Long in the making, the Catawba Greenway was formally unveiled on the last day of September. Connecting Virginia Tech’s Catawba Sustainability Center with the Appalachian Trail near McAfee Knob, the new trail creates a little over a 5 mile-loop for hikers who wish to access the AT without worrying about parking on the top of 311.
The trail itself utilizes parts of the original RT 311 roadbed, before transitioning onto purpose-built trail completed by the Pathfinders for Greenways Midweek Crew. The crew’s work includes impressive stone tread and several stair sections that will help hikers ascend the elevation changes. The trail also showcases VA Tech’s agricultural research facility, from American chestnut plantings to riparian buffer crop studies. The first six-tenths of a mile is intended to be a more accessible trail and includes a bridge across the Catawba Creek and a shelter complete with accessible picnic tables.
The Catawba Greenway Trailhead is located at 5061 Catawba Creek Road. Please consider using this access area for the AT if you arrive at the top of 311 and see that the parking area is full. The surfaced lot will hold 25 vehicles, but there is optional overflow parking as well. Additionally, another dozen or so parking spots are available at the Roanoke County Catawba Community Center, located at 4965 Catawba Creek Rd.
For a better sense of the trail, the scenery you’ll encounter and the partnerships it took to bring the trail to life, check out this video from the ribbon cutting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8l282vCaDs
If you plan your trip for a Thursday, be sure to visit the Catawba Farmers Market, open May through October. More details can be found at Catawbafarmersmarket.com