Roanoke, Virginia – One of the most famous vistas on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), McAfee Knob, has been given additional protection with the acquisition of three tracts of land near Roanoke
This effort, led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), The Conservation Fund and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), will add almost 600 acres of permanently protected land to the area. These acquisitions will help preserve iconic views from McAfee Knob, improve access to the Trail and provide greater conservation of the surrounding area.
The protection of these properties builds on the acquisition and conservation of the Hogan Hollow tract in 2019, which is located below the nearby and similarly renowned Tinker Cliffs. The ongoing work to conserve lands in the viewshed of McAfee Knob represents the dedication and collaboration of multiple partners to protect and improve the A.T. experience at one of Virginia’s most beloved outdoor destinations.
“The conservation efforts surrounding McAfee Knob continue the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s work to improve access for visitors, conserve the world’s most famous footpath and protect views cherished by millions of visitors,” said Andrew Downs, senior regional director for the ATC. “The A.T. remains a work-in-progress, and through this partnership and others like it across the Trail landscape, the ATC is improving and protecting the A.T. experience every day, one day at a time.”
“Piece by piece and property by property, securing these lands adds to our ongoing efforts to protect the beautiful viewshed from the A.T. of the landscape surrounding the “Triple Crown” from Dragons Tooth to McAfee to Tinker Cliffs,” said Heather Richards, Virginia state director for The Conservation Fund. “The A.T. is an important economic driver to the surrounding communities, so protecting lands to enhance the overall trail experience for outdoor enthusiasts fits well with The Conservation Fund’s dual mission.”
“Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club is proud to have partnered with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and The Conservation Fund to protect and preserve these properties now and for future generations,” said Jim Beeson, president of RATC. “Acquisition of the 8-acre property immediately adjacent to the McAfee Knob trailhead and parking area is especially gratifying, with the hope that future use of this property will improve the visitor experience at McAfee Knob.”
Early in 2020, the ATC and RATC began a fundraising campaign for the acquisition and restoration of a property adjacent to the McAfee Knob trailhead on Route 311. RATC raised over $44,000 from hundreds of individual donations from Roanoke Valley residents and trail lovers across the county. While the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately halted these efforts, the voluntary stewardship agreement signed between the ATC, The Conservation Fund and Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC provided the remainder of funds needed to purchase the McAfee Knob trailhead property. This tract will now be included in an ongoing study to improve safety and the visitor experience at the Route 311 parking area.
Utilizing additional funds from the agreement and in partnership with the ATC, The Conservation Fund acquired a 197-acre property along Blacksburg Road, where the Trail was located on a narrow easement. An additional 353-acre parcel was also secured just below the famed McAfee Knob summit, adding to the conserved land in the shadow of this famed viewpoint along the Trail.
These conservation efforts will significantly improve access, help conserve the world’s most famous footpath and protect views that millions of visitors have come to love. Special thanks go to the private landowners who chose to work with the ATC, RATC and The Conservation Fund to preserve the unique character of the Catawba Valley and the A.T. landscape.
“Protecting the areas surrounding McAfee Knob is a clear example of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s focus on conserving the areas essential to the unique experience the Appalachian Trail provides,” said Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the ATC. “Land conservation is an essential element of our work, helping ensure the ecosystems and inspiring views the Trail is known for are available for all of us to enjoy and benefit from for centuries to come.”