Outstanding views, a tough climb, a cool creek cliff face, wobbly bridges, Scorched Earth Gap, and The Murder Hole are just a few reasons to hike Tinker Cliffs via the Andy Layne Trail. We were so close to this trail when we hiked Carvin Cove/Hay Rock that we knocked this hike out the same day. Tinker Cliffs is the third leg in the Triple Crown of great views/hikes in this part of Virginia, along with McAfee Knob and Dragons Tooth.
It's around 3.8 miles to the top, but be prepared for an exhausting trek. You'll go through Scorched Earth Gap to get there, then look down on the valley where the Murder Hole cave is. Read the stories linked above about how they got their names, very interesting.
Bridge Warning July 2013: One or both of the bridges crossing the Catawba Creek near the beginning of this hike have been washed out as per a report from the Roanoke ATC. The crossing of the creek is possible during normal creek heights but would require fording with water shoes.
Mile 0.0 – The yellow blazed Andy Layne Trail begins at the rear of the parking area on Route 779 (Catawba Road). You'll cross two fence stiles before reaching the first of two bridge crossings of Catawba Creek. In some places over the next mile the trail was overgrown but manageable as of 2011. The first couple of miles you will hear the hum of the Roanoke Cement Co, this is their land they have generously allowed hikers to cross, so to get to the top you will just have to put up with the noise :)
Mile 1.2 – Arrive at the gate, and as long as you stay on the trail you are granted permission to go around the “No Trespassing” sign from the Roanoke Cement Co. The trail bears to the left around the gate, and in 100 yards bears to the right. The next portion begins the tough part of the hike, gaining 900ft+ feet before reaching the Appalachian Trail. One section has no switchbacks for about 0.4 miles.
Mile 3.0 – Reach the white blazed A.T. and stay right/south, this area is referred to as Scorched Earth Gap. Continue 0.6 miles south on the A.T. for a beautiful view to the north.
Mile 7.7 - Retrace your steps to return to the parking area.
Note: If you're adventurous and need more miles, you could continue south on the AT to McAfee Knob, this would be approximately 18 miles roundtrip from the Andy Layne parking area.
Interactive Hike Map BelowPrintable
Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left Mouse-over the icons in the map below for location shots
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Tinker Cliffs/Andy Layne Trail hike:
Reviews For The Tinker Cliffs/Andy Layne Trail Hike (5 Most Recent)
Bridge is still out but you can avoid getting wet. Awesome hike!
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Thanks Jen, I know. Hiked it in the mist and mud, slipped on the make shift bridge and got one wet boot, but no harm done. Unfortunately the top was entirely clouded in, but I intend to combine this with McAfee in the next month or two on a clear day. Of the triple crown, Dragon's Tooth, McAfee and Tinker, I found this by far the most strenuous. Great hike I intend to do again.
Date of Hike: Monday, October 07, 2013
I have not hiked this trail before, but am interested in doing it maybe this weekend. Does anyone know if all the bridges are back in service? Appreciate the feedback.
Date of Hike: Sunday, August 25, 2013
Great hike!! Thanks to Hiking Upward for great map and directions.
Bridge is still out over Catawba Creek but creek can be crossed with dry feet just downstream.
Black-eyed Susans everywhere!
Saw a copperhead on the trail watch your step!
Date of Hike: Thursday, August 22, 2013
I'm a noob hiker and if you are also have no doubt that this trail will challenge you! But the views are really worth it. I went on a Thursday at mid-morning and there weren't many other hikers, I think I met 5 others. The worst thing on this hike was the spider webs across the trail everywhere but that's just nature.