Protecting the Most Photographed Spot on the Appalachian Trail

Eugene, OR: When we think of the Appalachian Trail, we think of high adventure, green mountain vistas - and, of course, McAfee Knob. A Leave No Trace Hot Spot in 2015, McAfee Knob is beloved by thru-hikers and day hikers alike, all of them making the four-mile trek from Virginia Highway 311 - and some heading the four miles back to the trailhead parking lot - just to snap that picture of them and that iconic view. As a part of our Hot Spot Revisit program, a pair of Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers went back to McAfee Knob this year, and brought back some tips on how to protect McAfee Knob and keep yourself safe when headed out on your hike.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
You should absolutely be excited to hike to McAfee Knob, but you should absolutely know what you're getting into before you do. If you're day hiking, know that this is an 8-mile round trip hike that's primarily uphill for the first four miles. Plan accordingly: the whole hike tends to take 4-6 hours, so bring two liters of water per person and some snacks. Bring along a bag - and if you're feeling extra helpful, pack more trash out than you pack in.
2. Think About Parking
McAfee Knob sees 200 visitors on a slow day - which means the trailhead parking lot is often filled to capacity. If you'll be hiking McAfee Knob with friends, try to carpool to avoid parking disappointment when you get to the top. Remember, the trail to McAfee Knob is north of the parking lot, so be careful crossing the highway on the first part of your hike.
3. Sunrise, Sunset
If you're planning on seeing McAfee Knob at sunrise or sunset, there are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind. Camping on McAfee Knob is prohibited, so get a headstart on your hike back to the trailhead or earn that sunrise by hiking up from one of the shelters that are a little over a half a mile away. Shelters have water and pit toilets, but make sure you bring toiletpaper! If you hike up for either sunrise or sunset, make sure to bring a flashlight and a warm jacket - it can be much cooler on McAfee Knob than it is in nearby towns.
Just these simple tips can help you enjoy McAfee Knob for years to come. We hope you enjoy your iconic photo at McAfee Knob, and Enjoy Your World!
--Amanda and Junaid, Team East Central
Leave No Trace's Amanda Jameson and Junaid Dawud are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and Smartwool.