Media Statement

In Response to the Tragic Hiker Death on McAfee Knob, Virginia

May 31, 2022

Statement from Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

“On Sunday, May 29, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy was made aware of a tragic incident in the area of McAfee Knob in Virginia.Appalachian Trail (A.T.) hikerPaul ‘Grandmaster’ Classen sustained serious injuries after falling 50 feet. Rescue teams quickly located Paul, who was then taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital. It was announced today that Paul died from his injuries. 

“All of us at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy express our deepest condolences to Paul’s family and friends. We have witnessed an outpouring of sympathies and support from the greater A.T. hiking community, a reminder of the close connections the Trail creates even between those who have not met directly. We hope that such sympathies offer a degree of comfort to all those grieving his loss. We also express our sincere thanks to the rescue teams who assisted in the rescue operation.” 

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is 2,194.3 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to protect, manage, and advocate for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. For more information and safety tips, please visit 

Media Contact: Jordan Bowman
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 304.885.0794