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  1. #1
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    Default McAfee Knob fire road?

    this seems to be the preferred way up and down the mountain for everyone who isn't walking on the AT for the sake of walking on the AT.

    i have to say, even though i havent walked the fire road, given that the AT through that section is a bunch of PUDs running along the side of the hill i wouldnt exactly want to walk it either. the fire road appears to e in the obvious spot that a trail through there should be in.

    it makes me wonder, was the AT once on the fire road or where the fire road is? why isnt it any longer? is my guess that the fire road is a much more pleasant walk accurate?

    the whole ridge from 220 to 311 in general fascinated me. very narrow corridor, i could see into people's backyards at time it felt like. the weird and very consistent arrangement of campsites and shelters (near each other but yet deliberately separate from each other also) and with the campsites all seeming to have picnic tables and grills... what is the story behind all of that? the whole place felt sort of like some odd town or maybe small state park, yet it curiously eems to, as far as i can tell, have no official designation of any kind?

  2. #2

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    One of the older maps in viewranger depicts the fire road as being the AT, I believe.

    The road definitely continues on past the intersection leading to the knob. It looks like it goes all the way to the next shelter, though I've never walked it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWODaddy View Post
    One of the older maps in viewranger depicts the fire road as being the AT, I believe.

    The road definitely continues on past the intersection leading to the knob. It looks like it goes all the way to the next shelter, though I've never walked it.
    the section past the junction with the AT up to the knob appears to be, perhaps temporarily, closed.

    also, there was no sign that i saw at that junction indicating that one could return to the parking lot on the fire road, or where the fire road continues to when it is open. though i was momentarily distracted so perhaps i just didnt notice it.

    also i saw a sign further along stating the distance to 220 as 17.2 miles. about a hundred feet away is a sign stating the distance to 311 is 2 miles.

    the total distance between 220 and 311 is actually 19.8 miles.

    perhaps the distances they put on signs don't count the switchbacks?

  4. #4

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    I don't believe there are any signs at the AT/fire road junction halfway up to McAfee's that indicate the option of using the fire road. If you take the fire road up from 311, you will see an informational sign on (IIRC) the left hand side within the first half mile that maps the two.

    At least in the last 25 years, the fire road has not been the AT. It does continue on to Campbell Shelter.

    The mileage distance may be a function of a small reroute in the upper section of the AT between the fire road and the top. I can't remember when that took place, but as you're walking down from the top you'll make a hard right to stay on the trail versus continuing straight onto what becomes a section of fire road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    I don't believe there are any signs at the AT/fire road junction halfway up to McAfee's that indicate the option of using the fire road. If you take the fire road up from 311, you will see an informational sign on (IIRC) the left hand side within the first half mile that maps the two.

    At least in the last 25 years, the fire road has not been the AT. It does continue on to Campbell Shelter.

    The mileage distance may be a function of a small reroute in the upper section of the AT between the fire road and the top. I can't remember when that took place, but as you're walking down from the top you'll make a hard right to stay on the trail versus continuing straight onto what becomes a section of fire road.
    yeah i came across that sign at the junction of the AT and the fire road when you get down almost to the parking lot.

    my map, upon closer inspection, does show the fire road and the AT but they are so close to each other they show basically as 1 trail at a glance for most of the length.

    have you walked the fire road in order to get up to the knob from the parking area? i'm really curious what that hike is like compared to the AT through that section.

  6. #6

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    Sure, many times. It's a much more gentle grade with less PUD, as you suggested. Not uphill the whole way, but very little that actually goes back down. I still prefer the trail just because the fire road seems boring, but it's not a bad way to go.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    this seems to be the preferred way up and down the mountain for everyone who isn't walking on the AT for the sake of walking on the AT.
    i have to say, even though i havent walked the fire road, given that the AT through that section is a bunch of PUDs running along the side of the hill i wouldnt exactly want to walk it either. the fire road appears to e in the obvious spot that a trail through there should be in.
    it makes me wonder, was the AT once on the fire road or where the fire road is? why isnt it any longer? is my guess that the fire road is a much more pleasant walk accurate?
    the whole ridge from 220 to 311 in general fascinated me. very narrow corridor, i could see into people's backyards at time it felt like. the weird and very consistent arrangement of campsites and shelters (near each other but yet deliberately separate from each other also) and with the campsites all seeming to have picnic tables and grills... what is the story behind all of that? the whole place felt sort of like some odd town or maybe small state park, yet it curiously eems to, as far as i can tell, have no official designation of any kind?
    -The land is owned by the National Park Service. It's not National Forest like most of Central VA because it's out of the USFS proclamation boundary. It's narrow because we haven't finished acquiring the desired corridor.

    -Campsites and shelters are spaced based on water availability, and use patterns at McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. They have picnic tables and grills to direct use patterns of the weekender traffic.

    -I like the views, rock outcroppings and boulder fields in this section, I wouldn't call them PUDs - there's not enough U and D, its mostly ridge-walk.

    -The fire road makes a nice loop with the A.T., is a popular route up and was never whiteblazed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digger'02 View Post
    -
    -I like the views, rock outcroppings and boulder fields in this section, I wouldn't call them PUDs - there's not enough U and D, its mostly ridge-walk.

    -The fire road makes a nice loop with the A.T., is a popular route up and was never whiteblazed.

    thanks for the info!

    i think you may be taking my comments as being on the whole section from 220 to 311. when i call it PUDs im talking about the section that parallels the fire road after the descent going southbound from the knob only. i dont recall that specific stretch of a few miles having the things you describe. i do recall doing quite a bit more ascending that one usually expects during a descent.

    my first hint that i was missing something was that it was a beautiful day and the knob was crowded and the first part of my descent i had the company of many people going both up and down.

    when i got to the area that i now know as being after the junction of the fire road, suddenly everyone was gone. i didnt see another soul from that junction until i got to the other junction on the lower end. it really doesnt seem like that part of the AT gets much use by people who just want to hike up to the knob.

  9. #9

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    One time I did that section it was a miserable, rainy, windy day. My guide said there was a blue blaze around Tinker cliffs and being in an adventurous mood, I decide to use it. The only problem was finding it. After a bit of hunting around, I figured out where it left the AT and then it was just a matter of looking for little flakes of blue paint at the bottom of trees to reassure me I was still on a trail. Eventually it came out a few tenths north of Lambert Meadow shelter. It was definitely an adventure to sniff out out that trail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    One time I did that section it was a miserable, rainy, windy day. My guide said there was a blue blaze around Tinker cliffs and being in an adventurous mood, I decide to use it. The only problem was finding it. After a bit of hunting around, I figured out where it left the AT and then it was just a matter of looking for little flakes of blue paint at the bottom of trees to reassure me I was still on a trail. Eventually it came out a few tenths north of Lambert Meadow shelter. It was definitely an adventure to sniff out out that trail.
    i had no plans of taking any lengthy side trails yesterday, but i am always on the lookout for such things, mostly as a way of knowing where i am. the whole hike was a series of never coming across things that are supposed to be there. i have no doubt they are, but they seem to be well guarded secrets.

    i had an eye out for that trail you mention, never saw either end of it marked at all.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i had an eye out for that trail you mention, never saw either end of it marked at all.
    It came out to the AT by crossing a stream on a foot bridge about 0.2 north of the shelter. Had to back track to get to the shelter (it was raining). That end had a few obvious blue blazes. I don't remember if the junction was signed. On the south end it started out as a woods road from a gap and took you past an old farm building. No sign or obvious blazes on the south end.
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