Tinker Cliffs via Andy Layne Trail

Tinker Cliffs

To get breathtaking views of the Virginia Mountains you can take the Andy Lane Trail to Tinker Cliffs. Tinker Cliffs, a hidden Virginia destination, is the ideal day trip that gives you a great workout and is full of beautiful flowers, bridges, rocks, and views that will make you want to explore more.

Tinker Cliffs begins just off the little Catawba Creek Road (Route 16) in the Andy Layne Trail Parking area. It is the only parking option and has a capacity of only about 15 cars. It’s usually best to arrive early to secure a spot and, if visiting during the summer, to enjoy a few hours of cooler weather. The trailhead is located in the center of the parking lot on the east side. The trail map is posted on a board along with other relevant posts. There is little need to worry about getting lost because the trail itself is very easy to follow.

On the Blue trail, you’ll begin your ascent. A small wooden “gate” that marks the start of a section of private property you’ll pass through can be seen about ten minutes into the journey. This pleasant flat stretch provides a good warm-up and offers stunning views of the mountains directly in front of you.

The Hike through the Ticker Cliifs

You will come across a somewhat rickety wooden bridge that spans Catawba Creek at approximately 0.6 miles (0.97km). Following the crossing, a lovely open area leads to a second wooden gate, which meanders down to a second bridge. Despite the fact that it is completely safe, proceed slowly across. The trail on the left will take you to a different perspective of the creek. Seeing the west-facing rock face alone is worth the detour.

Tinker Cliffs hiking starts on the other side of the second Catawba Bridge with a moderately steep climb through the forest. You will pass an ever-deepening valley with stunning views but quite challenging to depict in photos or videos. You’ll start to face difficulties after about a mile. The “steps” are there, but they are spaced rather widely, and this part is very steep. It starts to climb once more just as you think you are finished. During this stretch, take your time and drink plenty of water.

Tinker Cliffs steps

You will gain 900′ (274m) in total over the course of roughly half a mile. The scenery is breathtaking even though the hike might be a little challenging. While some slopes are gentle, others demand that you pay close attention to staying on the path. In order to take a break before continuing up yet another steep section, there was one lone large rock that provided the ideal justification. There will be some nice views through the tree limbs on your right if you hike at any time between the fall and the spring. A large cement factory may be visible or audible in the distance. A large portion of the trail land is their property.

Later on, at around the 3-mile mark (4,8 kilometers) you’ll arrive at a flat area with a spectacular rock formation, wood signs, and a junction with the White trail . You are now half a mile (0.8 km) from the summit, but be ready—this is arguably the hardest part of the hike. Since there isn’t much downhill and almost no breaks, take some time to enjoy the trees, the amazing rock formations, and the wonderful fresh air.

Rock faces directly in front of you and to your left will eventually start to become visible. They are magnificent and diverse. One in particular looks like Chimney Rock because it rises straight up for what seems like an eternity. As you keep climbing, you’ll move between a variety of formations. Ensure that you pause occasionally and turn around to examine the surroundings. It’s nice to see what you have just traveled through (and give yourself a pat on the back for your effort).

Rocks on the Tinker Cliffs Trail

The lookouts for Tinker Cliffs are dispersed throughout the area, unlike those for Dragons Tooth and McAfee Knob. As you climb to the top, you’ll start to see various rock formations on your right. It’s amazing how many different kinds of rocks you come across. While others are more dispersed, some are massive and have hundreds-foot shear drops along the edges.

You’ll eventually reach the payoff points. There are several outstanding vantage points from which to choose. Although they all have the same view, some of them offer either a little extra privacy from other hikers. We decided to follow the path to the furthest overlook and then make our way back. Each unique and exceptional formation stood out on its own. Of course, now is the ideal time to enjoy a meal, and take in the breathtaking scenery.

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.

Extra Adventures

  • After your hike, stop by a local brewery for a drink. For example Twin Creeks Brewing in Vinton (20 miles away) or Ballast Point in Botetourt (just a short drive from Daleville).
  • Visit Downtown Roanoke to see two local landmarks, the Taubman Museum of Art and Center in the Square
  • You can purchase a bottle of wine to take home at the Fincastle Winery in Fincastle or the Blue Ridge Winery on the James River.