Of all the views on the Trail, few are more iconic than the one from McAfee Knob, which offers panoramic views of the Virginia countryside. McAfee is one of — if not the — most photographed locations on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), attracting visitors from all over Virginia and beyond.
Unfortunately, the view from McAfee is at risk due to the threat of development in the Catawba Valley below. In some places, the Trail is within 500 feet of private property, and real estate in this pastoral valley is becoming increasingly valuable due to its proximity to Roanoke and Blacksburg.
"There are numerous areas like McAfee Knob along the Appalachian Trail that have popular viewpoints overlooking amazing scenery, much of which is unprotected," said Laura Belleville, Vice President of Conservation and Trail Programs at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). "The land in these views is also ecologically important. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is working with our partners to increase the pace of land conservation along the Trail so that future hikers can continue to enjoy great views, and wildlife has healthy habitats."
Working with our partners at the National Park Service, Virginia Outdoors Foundation, National Park Trust, The Conservation Fund and Roanoke A.T. Club, and utilizing subsidies provided by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, ATC was able to purchase the 243-acre "Hogan Hollow" in Summer 2019. This vital stretch of land will help preserve the irreplaceable views from McAfee Knob and expand the corridor of public land that protects the footpath below nearby Tinker Cliffs.
ATC's purchase of the 243-acre Hogan Hollow tract will help protect the view from McAfee Knob expand the corridor of public land that protects the footpath below nearby Tinker Cliffs. Image courtesy of Christin Healey.
"The property turns a narrow portion of the corridor that was protected through an easement into a large protected corridor owned outright by the National Park Service," said ATC Regional Director Andrew Downs.
Adding Hogan Hollow to the protected A.T. landscape is a prime example of how ATC is taking action to ensure historic views and ecologically important areas along the Trail's corridor are as protected as the footpath itself for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.
"ATC will continue to collaborate with willing landowners and conservation partners to purchase lands that will permanently protect the A.T. experience," said Belleville.
For now, Virginia A.T. hikers can look over the rolling hills below McAfee Knob and know that we are one step closer to protecting this important part of the Trail experience forever.
Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting a variety of ATC projects and showing how they will positively affect the A.T. experience for future generations. These projects (and many more) are only made possible through the dedication of our members and donors! By giving a gift to the Trail today, you are ensuring that the unique A.T. experience is preserved and protected forever and for all.