At 2.3 mi., the trail crosses a wide, rocky road and passes up a log staircase before continuing its steep ascent. The trees diminish for a short stretch as the AT crosses through a sloping meadow and under a power line (2.5 mi.), then makes a sharp right into another thick forest and continues its ascent. At 2.6 mi., a rocky outcrop to the right provides a nice view of Catawba Valley and North Mt. to the left. This preview of the picture-perfect shots waiting just ahead makes a great incentive to forge onward.
The trail dips for approximately 100 yd. beyond the lookout before beginning its final approach to McAfee Knob. Ahead, the trail curves to the left of a 20-ft.-high boulder of brown Silurian sandstone. Although the formation is towering today, it, too, will some day erode to sand. Beyond the boulder, the trail picks up an old forest road and continues to ascend.
As the AT curves to the right, an unmarked side trail leads to another rocky lookout on the left. The rocky ledge is slick and may be slippery after a recent rain or snow melt. If you decide to check out this view, proceed with caution. This is one of several side trails along this stretch. To stay on course, keep a close eye on the white AT blazes and stay on the old road.
At 3.5 mi. you will reach McAfee Knob at a small clearing at the end of the road. Follow the narrow side trail to the left and onto a cliff several hundred feet wide. Giant rock fingers jut out from it to form overhangs that extend more than 20 ft. beyond the supporting rock below. There are also several interesting alcoves to explore. Be careful, especially near the edges. Note that no camping or fires are permitted at the knob.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication