Bike/Hike to Tinker Cliffs
Left: A companion joins Gail at lunch. Right: A hot, hazy view from Tinker Cliffs southward into the Catwaba Valley, with McAfee Knob at left.
We've arrived at Tinker Cliffs pretty much every way you can, save maybe this one: a one-mile road ride and another 1.4 or so along Happy Valley Road in the Carvins Cove Trail system; then locking the bikes at the intersection with the Arrowhead Trail and walking that trail, the Sawmill Branch Trail and then the Appalachian Trail to Tinker Cliffs.
We saw a trio of bikers on the Arrowhead, but continued our experience of being perhaps the only people to use the Sawmill Branch Trail. (Not true, of course, since it's not overgrown, but we've never seen anyone or any evidence of a hiker on it.)
We paused at Lambert's Meadow Shelter to contemplate having lunch there, but The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All pulled us onward and upward along the .6-mile climb to Scorched Earth Gap and the .5 to Tinker Cliffs, where lunch was good, views were hazy and the good breeze I'd promised was pretty much not there.
Mid-lunch, a butterfly stopped by to visit on Gail's arm and then finger, no doubt seeking some of that sugar and spice that girls are made of. Or maybe some good salty sweat.
Bicycles from the Bennett Springs parking lot of Carvins Cove to the base of the Arrowhead Trail; hiking via Arrowhead, Sawmill Branch and Appalachian trails to Tinker Cliffs and back; about 5 miles of biking and 7 miles of hiking.
How to get there: Va. 311 west out of Salem to a right on Bennett Spring Road and a bear-right onto Carvins Cove Road.