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.
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Topo Hike Map (PDF)
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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)
The bridges are back! There was a lot of standing/running water from all of the recent snow melting with the weather being in the 60s recently but we were prepared with proper boots. This hike was quite challenging, I would reccomend a walking stick for sure because there are many areas with steep hikes--but the view makes it totally worth it! There was a lot of snow on the ground at the top, but luckily somebody had hiked it earlier & we followed their footprints. Fantastic hike. We should have planned more time, it took us about 4 hours roundtrip with a stop at the top for late lunch!
Tony and Gretchan
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 30, 2013
Very challenging hike, but beautiful! We heard of the STEEP mountains, and saw that to be true. We borrowed hiking poles, and were very glad for that, also thankful we didn't take our hiking dog. We were ready for the bridge to still be out, but were told about .2 miles upstream was a concrete bridge, that helped a lot! Our brave son, and our exchange student, however, did use a log to cross the stream! The view on top was very worth it, just had to be very careful not to get too close to the edge. We would definitely do this one again, with trekking poles always!
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 13, 2013
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.