Appalachian Trail to Keffer Oak

  • Highlights: Appalachian Trail, views, Keffer Oak
  • Distance: 2.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 692 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with some rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Trailhead Parking: Intersection of routes 42 and 629 near Newport VA, there is a small gravel lot here with room for 3-4 vehicles
  • Beer Pairings: Solstice Farm Winery & Brewery—Sandy Ridge 2021 Vidal Blanc & English Pub Ale

Trail Map:

The Hike:

This easy hike on the Appalachian Trail has some nice meadow and mountain views. It also passes beside Keffer Oak, the 2nd largest tree on the AT. From the trailhead parking area, cross route 42 and follow a gravel double track road which runs beside the highway. In about 200 yards, reach the AT crossing. Once again cross route 42 and follow the white-blazed AT heading north.

The AT begins a steady climb through an open meadow. As you climb, views to the south and west open up. Wildflowers, butterflies, and birds populate the meadow. The climb is bit steep in places. The AT briefly enters the forest before returning to another stretch through a meadow. The AT crosses Northside Road and a bridge over Sinking Creek before heading back into the forest. At 1.1 miles reach the remains of an old cabin on the left. 

Continue on the AT and reach a “fat man squeeze” at 1.3 miles. Look up. This is the famous Keffer Oak. This giant white oak is over 60 feet tall and has a circumference of nearly 20 feet. The lower limbs are the size of a large tree. It is estimated to be over 300 years old. The Dover Oak in New York State is said to be the largest tree on the AT. While the Keffer Oak doesn’t win the largest tree competition, it’s still pretty amazing. 

For the best views, continue past the tree on the right just past a camp site. This massive oak towers above the rest of the forest. You can also get a nice view of the tree by continuing northbound on the AT for about one hundred yards. Enjoy a snack under the shade of this giant and retrace your steps southbound on the AT to return to your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Beliveau Farm Winery & Brewery is located about 30 miles from the trailhead.  Belvieau is primarily a winery. On our visit, they had eight wines available by the glass and only two beers. All of their beers are brewed with ancient grains and are gluten-free. They have indoor and outdoor seating a variety of food items are available. The outdoor seating area has some nice mountain views and dogs on-lease are welcome outside.

Kathy opted for a glass of white wine. The Sandy Ridge 2021 vintage is made with Vidal Blanc grapes and was dry and crisp—just as she likes it. Pete remained loyal to beer and enjoyed a pint of English Pub Ale (4.8% ABV • 45 IBU), a session-style English bitter. Like all of their beers, this was glutton-free and reminded us of the “best bitter” at an English pub. 

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.