Kennedy Peak

NOTE: Parking at Edith Gap was greatly restricted starting in fall 2020. If you attempt to park there, be sure to pay attention to the the new ‘No Parking, Tow Away’ signs. Unless you are very certain you are legally parked, we suggest following the updated route outlined below, starting from the horse trailer parking area for the Stephens Trail about a mile lower on the mountain.

Kennedy Peak is an beautiful seven-mile out-and-back hike in the Lee District of George Washington National Forest.  It gives hikers gorgeous views of the bends in the Shenandoah River.

The view from atop the Kennedy Peak Tower

Christine Says…

I love this hike. We’ve hiked it in winter and fall before, but this was the first time we’ve hiked it in the spring. Sunday afternoon was the kind of day that is custom made for hiking. It was dry, sunny, breezy and in the low 70’s. The trail was lined with brilliant, pink rhododendrons. All the trees were covered with new, spring green leaves and/or blossoms. Butterflies were fluttering all around the trail, taking pauses on the blooming trees and wildflowers. It was, in a word, idyllic.

turtle
Box Turtle, Swallowtail on Rhododendron, Indigo Bunting

We began in the Stephens Trail/horse trailer parking area on VA675. The Stephens Trail departs from the back of the parking area. You should look for the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail at the head of the parking lot. The trail climbs moderately uphill for .9 miles. At the top of the climb, you’ll exit onto VA675 at Edith Gap (the old parking area). On the road, take a sharp left, staying on the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail.

Hiking uphill along the Massanutten Trail, headed to Edith Gap.

The part of the trail starts off as a wide, almost road-like track. This part of the hike is extremely easy – climbing just a couple hundred feet over the next 1.75 miles.  

At around mile 2.65, the trail takes a sharp, hairpin turn and begins to climb more steeply over increasingly rocky terrain.  At this sharp switchback, you may be tempted to continue straight along a visible path, but be careful to make the turn and follow the orange blazes uphill.  This slightly tricky misdirection has been blocked off by logs and rocks, but enough people have missed the turn that the false path remains well-trodden. We once followed it out of curiosity and it doesn’t lead anywhere.  It eventually fades out into the forest.

Don’t miss this switchback!

After the switchback, the trail continues uphill for another half mile.  There is a small outcropping on the left with a obstructed views and a tiny campsite (room for a hammock or a one-person tent). After you pass this spot, continue a couple tenths of a mile to the junction with the Stephens Trail.  (Note: If you want to make a longer day, adding about two more miles to your route, you can descend back to your car via the Stephens Trail. We’ve heard it’s not very scenic and is often muddy and manure-covered, so we chose the out-and-back.)

At the junction, you will turn right and follow the signs toward the fire tower.  The tower is a little over .2 miles from the junction.  The last stretch to the fire tower is steep and rocky.  It’s really the only challenging section of the hike.  The tower is a sturdy one-story structure with great views looking into the valley and Shenandoah National Park beyond.

When we got to the summit, we had the observation tower all to ourselves. We watched birds in the treetops, spotted lizards climbing around on the rocks and took in a fantastic view of the Shenandoah River and the Page Valley.  It was one of the least hazy days we’ve had in a while, so we could clearly see Shenandoah National Park from this summit.  Lots of vultures were soaring overhead, and even though they’re kind of creepy, they were casting cool bird-shaped shadows onto the mountain top.  I always like it when they do that.

The trail is pretty rocky for the last half mile.

Sunday was the only time we’ve hiked Kennedy Peak in the afternoon.  Adam and I tend to be morning hikers — it helps us avoid the crowds.  But, the light is definitely prettier in the afternoon on Kennedy Peak.  If you hike it in the morning, the sun shines right in your face at the summit.  That makes it hard to appreciate the great view, and makes it nearly impossible to get any decent photos.

Adam Says…

This is one of our favorite hikes.  This hike is not very steep and the payoff is wonderful.  This is a good multi-use trail, since there are campsites and good footing for horses.  There are a couple of campsites at the beginning of the trail, near the road.  The nicest campsites are further up the trail.  Once you are on the fire tower trail, you will find a couple of places where you can have some nice lookouts over the valley and the Shenandoah River.  From some points, you can see several bends in the River.  Once you reach the top, there is an observation tower where you can chill for a while before heading back down.

Views from the other side of the tower.

If you are into geocaching, there are a few in the area:

Be sure to visit Camp Roosevelt a little north further on the road.  This is a great spot for a picnic.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 7 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Change – 1300′
  • Difficulty – 3. The trail for the first miles is moderately uphill. The next two miles are either flat or gentle rolling terrain.  The last third of a mile up to the observation tower is steeper, but very manageable.
  • Trail Conditions – 3.   The trail is well-maintained, but there are a lot of rocks, so you’ll need to watch where you step.
  • Views – 4.  You can really see some nice views close to the top.
  • Waterfalls/streams – 0. This trail is dry as a bone.
  • Wildlife – 2.  Seems like a great bird-watching area.  We saw an Indigo Bunting, Goldfinch, Wood Thrush, and Eastern Towhee.  Also spotted a box turtle and Eastern fence lizard.  We saw a bear when we hiked it in spring 2017.
  • Ease to Navigate – 4.   Other than the one tricky spot at the switchback, it would be nearly impossible to get lost.
  • Solitude – 2.  This trail is well-loved by a lot of locals, but the bulk of area tourists stick to the trails in Shenandoah National Park.  You may see a few groups of hikers along the way, but it’s rarely a crowded trail.

All Photos

Directions to trailhead: The parking lot is the Stephens Trailhead on VA675. Coordinates: 38.72795, -78.51536

Duncan Knob

Duncan Knob is a great 3.4 mile hike in George Washington National Forest, located near Kennedy Peak and Strickler Knob.  Reaching the summit requires negotiating a Class III rock scramble.

Wookie Enjoys the View from Duncan Knob
Wookie Enjoys the View from Duncan Knob.  Below: The foliage along the trail was pretty;  The scramble is a foreboding pile of boulders; Adam and Wookie make their way up the scramble.

Rocky Trail View of the Scramble from the Bottom Scrambling with Wookie

Christine Says…

On Friday, Adam and I both took a vacation day from work to get in some fall hiking. We decided Duncan Knob suited our plans perfectly.  We wanted to avoid hikes in the national park (the crowds are dreadful this time of year) and we didn’t want to drive more than an hour. We did a little online research to look at our route options, and found pretty much everyone did the hike as an 8.7 mile loop.  The common route passes by just one spot with a view and includes significant uphill climbs on both the outgoing and return arms of the loop.

We decided to look at our maps to see if there was a more direct route to Duncan Knob.  I know lots of people primarily hike for the exercise. They love anything that makes the trail longer, steeper and more challenging.  I am not one of those people.  I don’t mind distance or elevation as long as there is a payoff for it.  But if there’s a more direct route to get the same view, I usually opt to take it.  Needless to say, we were pleased to find a 3.4 mile, out-and-back route that involved just 900 feet of elevation gain.

Blue Blazed Trail Gap Creek Trail
The Blue Blazed Trail Gap Creek Trail.  Below: The Gap Creek trail is well-marked;  Near the beginning of the trail you cross a small stream; Wookie enjoyed running back and forth across the bridge.

Gap Creek Sign Trail Sign Small Stream Wookie Running Across Bridge

The hike starts at the Gap Creek trailhead on Crisman Hollow Road.  You’ll walk a short way up a blue-blazed fire road until you see a campsite on the left side of the road.  The road continues uphill from this point, but you’ll want to cut through the campsite and cross the small bridge over the stream.  After crossing the bridge, the trail climbs steadily uphill.  For the first mile, the elevation gain is very gentle and is punctuated by flat stretches.  The trail is extremely rocky the entire way.  At mile 1.2, the blue-blazed Gap Creek trail intersects the yellow-blazed Scothorn Gap trail.  Continue on the blue-blazed trail until you reach a level place near the top of the ridge at 1.5 miles.  There’s a great campsite at this spot.  It has a big stone fire pit ringed by log benches.  There are lots of flat places to pitch tents, too.

Directly across from the campsite, the Duncan Knob spur trail begins.  The trail is blazed white and climbs steeply uphill to the summit.  As you walk along, you’ll notice the rocks on the trail are getting larger and more abundant.  Eventually, you step out of the woods and find yourself facing an enormous pyramid-shaped summit of jumbled rocks and boulders.

More Scrambling
Wookie and Adam scramble upward.  Below: The trail becomes progressively rockier; Adam explore the boulders; Wookie spots Adam climbing back down from the geocache.

Trail gets even rockier Adam scrambles Wookie sees Adam

Climb the rock scramble any number of ways (we followed a rather informal series of cairns along the left side of the rock pile) and you’ll be treated to sweeping views in almost every direction.  The scrambling was fun and not difficult at all.  I found a nice rock “chair” to sit on while Adam found a geocache hidden at the summit.  It was freezing cold and blustery sitting on the rocks, so we didn’t stay too long.

On the way down, we stopped back by the campsite and had some water and a snack.  We even gave our dog, Wookie, some graham crackers and marshmallows from our trail mix.  He did a great job on the rock scramble – especially considering how small he is.  The hike back down was pretty uneventful and just retraced our steps.  What a great hike!  I told Adam it’s been one of my favorite recent hikes.

Adam Says…

Ever since we did the Strickler Knob hike (actually our very first post!), I had been hearing that Duncan Knob also had amazing views.  I believe we put off this hike for a while due to the long 8.7 mile length, combined with lots of elevation gain.  So, I pulled out my map of the area to see if there was a different way.  Sure enough, you can easily get up to Duncan Knob by just sticking to the Gap Creek Trail.  The hike may have a little steeper of an elevation than approaching it from the Scothorn Gap Trail, but the hike up the Gap Creek Trail is much shorter and you aren’t missing much scenery.

The trail does include a few switchbacks once you start the trail over the bridge which takes the pressure of the elevation off your leg muscles.  The hike is almost all uphill, but before you know it you’ve reached the ridge where the campsite is.  We took a break here to see if there was anything else to see along the ridge, before proceeding up the white-blazed trail to the summit of Duncan Knob.  This white-blazed trail is slightly overgrown and some of the white blazes are quite faded, but it wasn’t too hard to navigate.  After only about .2 miles on this trail, we saw the looming rock scramble in front of us.  We decided to approach the rock scramble on the left-hand side.  Once you begin to climb up a few rocks, the views really begin to open up around you.  The rocks weren’t too tough to navigate, but it was harder to help navigate a small dog on a leash.  From the top, you will have great views of Middle Mountain, Waterfall Mountain, Strickler Knob, and Kerns Mountain.  The color was very nice and we took some time to soak in the scenery.

Adam enjoys the view
Adam takes in the view from Duncan Knob.  Below: A nice campsite on the ridge; Adam and Wookie take a break on the climb down;  Wookie did surprisingly well on the scramble, but occasionally he had to be carried.

Nice Campsite View on the Way Down Climbing Down

I left Christine to keep climbing up to the summit of the rock scramble and found the Duncan Knob Geocache.  A few people before me were not able to find it before me, so the owner had taken the posting offline until he had time to investigate.  I’m glad I was able to save the owner a hike back.  This was my 499th find, so I need to do something special for my 500th geocache.

If you haven’t done any hiking off Crisman Hollow Road, I would highly recommend making this a stop in the near future.  With the Massanutten Story Book Trail, Strickler Knob, and Duncan Knob hikes all off this road, I feel this road leads to some amazing hiking gems that are unknown to many.

Wookie Says...Wookie Says…

I’m so glad that I finally got invited to go hiking again!  I really enjoyed most of this trail because there wasn’t any water for me to cross.  When we first started the trail, I did a few runs across the wooden bridge with my masters on both sides.  I was feeling frisky and I was ready to get moving.  We made our way up the trail and I felt it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.  When we got to the final rock scramble, I was a little worried.  I really enjoy climbing up on rocks, but I wouldn’t recommend it to my less-agile canine friends.  There were a couple of moments where I had to perform an iron cross and pull myself up some rocks, but Adam helped navigate me the right way through the maze of boulders.

Begging for Treats
Wookie enjoys trailmix!

The way down was a little more challenging, so Adam tucked me under his arm for most of the way down to make sure I didn’t get hurt.  I really enjoyed the views from the top of Duncan Knob and I enjoyed sniffing the air around me.  After our hike back down, my masters even let me sample a few pieces of trail mix.  I really liked the marshmallows best!  One time I dropped a marshmallow and when I picked it up again the dirt from the ground made it look like cookies and cream.  I look forward to my next time hiking and I’ll be sure to put on my pitiful, pleading face the next time Adam and Christine get ready to head out for a hike.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 3.4 miles
    (Check out the stats from Map My Hike)*
  • Elevation Change –  900 feet
  • Difficulty – 2.5. The hike is squarely moderate – even with the rock scramble.
  • Trail Conditions –3. The trail is in good shape.  The rock scramble is not formally marked and there are some unbalanced rocks.
  • Views5. Beautiful views of the Massanutten Mountain area. The view looking toward Strickler Knob is awesome!
  • Waterfalls/streams –2. The stream is seasonal and may be dry part of the year.  When the stream is running, the area is popular with fishers.
  • Wildlife – 1.5. The area is popular with hunters, so animals tend to be reclusive.  We’ve heard of people spotting bears and deer in the general area, but we’ve never seen larger animals.
  • Ease to Navigate – 3.5. Trails are clearly blazed, but turns are not labeled and signed like they are in the national park.  It’s a good idea to have a map for this hike.
  • Solitude – 4.5. On a beautiful fall day, we saw just one other couple of hikers.

Download a trail map (PDF)

Directions to trailhead: From New Market, take 211 east.  In about 3 miles, take a left on Crisman Hollow Road. The road starts off paved, but turns to gravel.  At about 4.5 miles, park on the right at the Gap Creek trail.  Follow the fire road until you reach the first campsite on the left.  The trail starts behind the campsite at a wooden bridge.

Massanutten Story Book Trail

The view from the Massanutten Story Book Trail involves a short quarter-mile walk down a paved pathway.

Story Book View
The view from the Story Book trail overlooks 211 and the Page Valley. Below: The trailhead is marked by a large sign; Along the path, there is a series of interpretive signs that describe the geology and flora of the area.

Story Book Trailhead Interpretive Sign

Christine Says…

The Massanutten Story Book Trail is one of those ridiculously short path-walks that we personally wouldn’t consider a hike.  Nonetheless, it goes to one of the nicer viewpoints in the Shenandoah Valley. Sure… you can see the Battle Creek Landfill and a distant Walmart, but you can also see the mountains that make up Shenandoah National Park and pretty much all of the Page Valley.  It’s a beautiful spot.

To get to the view, just stroll down the level pathway for a quarter mile.  At the end of the paved trail, you’ll come to an observation platform.  It’s railed in and has several benches to rest upon.  But, for an even better view, don’t miss following a rocky footpath to the right of the platform.  It leads to a rock shelf overlooking the valley.  The rocks that make up the ledge have the most fascinating texture.

Curvy Walkway
One of the beautiful curved, wooden walkways.  Below:  At the end of the paved pathway, there is a platform from which to take in the view; Christine’s Mom and Dad take in the view (You can see our shadows, too!).

Observation Platform Taking in the View

It looks like a lot of work/money has gone into cleaning up the Story Book Trail recently.  The interpretive signs that had faded or been covered with graffiti have been replaced (although new graffiti is already showing up – seriously people, stop crapping up the outdoors… it’s disrespectful and stupid).  The path looked like it had been repaved not too long ago.  But, best of all, someone cleaned all the paint off the rock ledges that lie off the trail.

Adam Says…

Christine’s parents came down on a Sunday to meet up with us.  We decided to take them on a couple of short hikes with great views.  The first we did was Woodstock Tower and we finished it off with the Massanutten Story Book Trail.  This trail is one of the easiest you will find, since the path is paved most of the way, with some beautiful wooden walkways in a few parts.  Since it is also wheelchair accessible, just about anyone should be able to enjoy the views you will find here.

Adam on the Ledge
Adam enjoys the view from the ledge.  Below:  The path is paved; Some sections are traversed by beautiful curved bridges.

Paved Pathway Curved Pathways

The trail also works as an interpretive trail, with many plaques to read along the way that give a great description of the geologic forces that have created the mountains in this area.  There are two geocaches along this trail and one of these requires answers from the signs along the way.

Christine and I often say that some of the areas of George Washington National Forest lead to better views than you get through hikes in Shenandoah National Park and this trail is great evidence of this statement.  If you haven’t done this one before and enjoy great views with little effort, this is a trail for you.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – .5 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change – negligible
  • Difficulty 1.  This trail is for everyone – paved for strollers and handicap accessible.
  • Trail Conditions 5. The official trail is paved.  You can leave the trail and scramble on the rocks for another view.
  • Views –5. Amazing views!
  • Waterfalls/streams 0. No streams/waterfalls.
  • Wildlife 0.  The trail is too populous to really attract wildlife.
  • Ease to Navigate 5.  Just straight down a paved path and back.
  • Solitude 0.  You’ll see many people along this trail.

Directions to trailhead:
Reach the trailhead by turning on to Crisman Hollow Road (FD 274) off of 211 near Luray. Continue on this road for about a mile and park in a small lot off to the right.  A wooden footbridge and trail marker will signify the start of the trail.

Woodstock Tower

The Woodstock Tower hike is a fairly easy hike in the Lee Ranger District of George Washington National Forest that leads to a fire tower with 360-degree views of the surrounding area.

View from Woodstock Tower
The view from the Woodstock Tower is panoramic - offering views of the valley, river and distant mountains. Below: A wider view includes the mountains; It really wasn't the best time of day to photograph the actual tower -- I had to shoot right into the sun; The inside of the tower is covered with graffiti.

A wider view Tower Sunburst Inside the Tower

Adam Says…

After parking in the Little Fort Campground area, we headed up for our hike to Woodstock Tower.  The white-blazed Wagon Road/Nature Trail starts off as a rough fire road and after .1 mile, intersects with Peters Mill Run.  Peters Mill Run is an ATV/OHV trail, so look both ways before crossing this popular trail for ATVs and motorcycles.  Continue straight across Peters Mill Run to connect to the trail again.  The trail does go steadily up with a few switchbacks, but the switchbacks really make the trail easier of a climb.  The first switchback comes in around .25 miles and the second switchback comes around .5 miles.  After the second switchback, the trail does become steeper, but it ends after just a couple tenths of a mile.  At .7 miles, take a left on the pink-blazed Tower Trail.  It is only about .2 miles to reach the tower on a fairly level trail.

The Woodstock Tower
The Woodstock Tower. Below: A little bit of fall color was already showing; We took a break for water where the short trail meets up with the longer trail; Looking up through the Woodstock Tower.

A little fall foliage Water Stop Looking up through the tower

When we reached the tower, we climbed up the metal stairs to reach the top.  I’m not a big fan of heights, but I’m especially nervous when it involves man-made things.  The tower did seem quite sturdy, but it makes some noises when railings move slightly, so I was more eager to get down from the tower than the rest of Christine’s family.  The views are nice, but the area is quite crowded.  Unless you went up early in the morning, I fear that it would be hard to have a moment’s peace at the top.  There aren’t any signs posted for maximum number of people on the tower and you may have to hug the side of a platform as people pass in opposite directions.

There are a few geocaches in the nearby area:

Christine Says…

This was the second time I’ve been to the Woodstock Tower.  Last time I was there was several years ago in mid-October.  I remember the fall foliage being amazing from atop the tower. This time, the foliage had just the slightest hint of change, but the day was crystal clear and sunny – not a bit of haze – so the view was extra nice.

There are shorter ways to get to the view.  In fact, you can practically drive right up to it.  However, we chose to hike up from the Little Fort campground instead.   The slightly longer route gave my mom a chance to try out her new hiking boots.

Off Highway Vehicle
The area has lots of ATV and dirt bike trails. Below: All the roads and trails in this area are well-marked.

Wagon Road Campground Sign

Because the day was so beautiful, we had to share the tower with crowds of people.  At times, there was actually a line of people waiting to get to the top.  We even saw a person trying to coax their pit bull up the open, metal stairs.  That didn’t go so well, and they had to turn back about halfway to the top.  The inside of the tower is covered with graffiti and the area is littered with broken beer bottles and empty soda cans – a very unfortunate side effect of its popularity.

Despite the tower’s less-than-pristine nature, it still offers one of the best views of the mountains in the area.  It’s well worth the short walk.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 2 miles
  • Elevation Change – about 500 feet
  • Difficulty –2. While you would think that going up 500 feet in one mile would be steep, the trail up seems to take off a lot of the steep terrain.
  • Trail Conditions – 3. The trail had some loose ground in a few areas (especially in the first .1 mile), but overall was well-maintained.
  • Views – 4.5. It does have 360-degree views, but we always enjoy views from natural surroundings like rock outcrops over man-made towers.
  • Waterfalls/streams 0. Non-existent.
  • Wildlife – 2. Too many people to see anything other than people.  May be good for hawk spotting or some other woodland birds.
  • Ease to Navigate – 4.  Not too many turns on this one and trails are well-labeled.
  • Solitude – 1. You will see lots of people on this trail during a nice day.

Directions to trailhead:
We approached this from I-81.  There are other ways to the east to approach this, but here is the most common way for anyone traveling via interstate.  Take exit 283 on I-81, heading east on 42.  Stay on 42 until it intersects with US 11.  Take a left on US 11, heading north through the town of Woodstock.  As soon as you pass the Woodstock Shopping Center, take a right on S.R. 665/Mill Road.  Take this until it ends at S.R. 758/Woodstock Tower Road.  Take a left here and continue to follow S.R. 758 up and down the mountain (this area can be scary when passing other vehicles – there are no guardrails in most spots).  Be sure to stay on S.R. 758 until you reach Little Fort Campground.  Turn into the campground area.  There are campsites and parking spots along the road here.  The trailhead is located on the right-hand side of the road near a campsite right before you reach the outdoor restrooms.

Tibbet Knob

Tibbet Knob is a short, but steep, hike that leads to a beautiful, rocky outcropping that overlooks both Virginia and West Virginia.  It’s considered the sister hike to Big Schloss.

Tibbet Knob Summit
The yellow-blazed Tibbet Knob trail offers spectacular views. Below: The first overlook on the trail comes within the first few tenths of a mile;  The footing along most of the trail is extremely rocky.

First View Hiking Over Rocks

Christine Says…

After a string of eight 90-100+ degree days, we finally got a break in the heat and humidity!  We picked a shorter, easier hike to celebrate the cooler weather – Tibbet Knob.  We’ve found we’re doing lots of longer hikes lately – partly because we’ve simply run out of shorter hikes.

I don’t know how Tibbet Knob escaped our notice for so long, because it’s a beautiful hike.  Tibbet seems to play second fiddle to its sister hike, Big Schloss – though I’m not really sure why.  The views are nearly as spectacular and the crowds are much thinner.  The terrain is definitely steeper and rockier, but not so much so it would scare hikers off.

We started our morning with breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Woodstock (worst/slowest service ever *and* they burned the bacon!)  We finally made it to the trailhead a little after 9:00 a.m.  At the very beginning, the trail passes through several lovely, primitive campsites.  One even has a picnic table that someone dragged a couple tenths of a mile into the woods.  The ascent starts almost immediately and follows a steady, but gradual, uphill to the first open view of the valley below.  This overlook is pretty, but pales in comparison to the summit of Tibbet Knob.

Looking Toward Big Schloss
You can see Big Schloss way off in the distance (circled in yellow).  Below:  Adam enjoys his perch on the summit; The trail was often open and out in the sun; There is a lovely (but dry) campsite about 10 yards from the rocky ledge at the summit.

Adam on the Summit Open Trail Campsite at the Summit

From the first vista, the trail drops gently into a saddle.  The footing becomes increasingly rocky from this point on.  Through some sections, it’s like walking on a dry riverbed of basketball-sized stones – some smooth, some pointy.  The last .8 of a mile is very steep and rocky.  There are two short rock scrambles.  At the first one, I abandoned my trekking poles because they were seriously getting in the way.  I can telescope them shorter, but I decided it was just as well to leave them stashed along the trail to retrieve on my way down.

Shortly after the second scramble, we arrived at the summit.  We stayed at the top for quite a long while.  Normally, we’re not the lingering type, but the morning was so pleasant that we spent at least half an hour sitting on the rocky outcropping.  It was cool and breezy.  The sky was crystal clear and blue and the scent of pine trees was all around.  There were several rocks to recline on, so I laid back and closed my eyes while Adam hunted for his geocache.  We didn’t see another soul on the entire hike.  I love having a beautiful summit all to myself.

The return trip was more downhill than uphill, so it went by quickly and we were back at the car within 45 minutes.

Adam Says…

We had been meaning to try out Tibbet Knob for some time now, since we’ve been several times to do the Big Schloss hike, but this was our first experience on this hike.  The hike takes off from Wolf Gap campground.  This campground is a great area for camping and has a lot of established campsites.  We always see plenty of cars in the campground and usually many of the sites are taken, but you should be able to find a spot for overnight camping.  We definitely plan on doing a camping trip in the future since this site provides access to some great hiking trails.

As soon as you begin the yellow-blazed trail, you will come across several other campsites alongside the trail – one even had a picnic table near the firepit.  At about .6 miles you come to a nice overlook with a decent viewpoint to the south.  If you look closely, you can even see cars on the road below you.  You descend from this overlook for a short distance, but then you begin your climb.  At some points along the ascent, the terrain opens up to larger grassland areas.  You will also pass by several blueberry bushes along the trail, which reminded us of our hikes in New England.  Due to the already hot and arid summer, the blueberries were already past their peak so we weren’t able to pick any on the trail.  The terrain does get quite steep towards the end of the trail.  You don’t have to quite crawl up the slope, but it is almost that steep.  Once you get pass the two steep areas, you are very close to the summit.  The views from the top were gorgeous and I believe give you a little better view than Big Schloss, since you get a better perspective of the valley with mountains around you.  To the east, you can see the side of the Big Schloss hike.   There is also a primitive campsite near the top of the overlook if you wanted to camp at the top, but there is no nearby water source.

Signs of Fall?
Signs of Fall?  Maybe… but more likely evidence of the drought we’ve been having lately.  We saw lots of patches of red trees in the distant mountains, too.  Below:  The only wildlife we saw was a toad; Adam looked for, but did not find, the geocache; It was a beautiful, breezy, blue-sky day; the trailhead starts across the road from the Wolf Gap campground.

Trail Toad Looking for the Geocache
Tibbet Knob Summit Trail Sign

The trail does continue on from the overlook, but it just leads to SR 671 after about .7 miles.  You can actually approach this hike from SR 671 for a shorter, less steep option to give you a 1.5 mile out-and-back hike.  We stayed up at the top for a while to soak in the views and for me to look for a geocache.  I wasn’t able to find this one, but there is an alleged geocache here:

We really enjoyed the peaceful hike for the day.  We had the entire hike to ourselves on a day that was in the 70s and we even had the bonus of not having any bugs buzzing around our face.  This is a great short hike that provides enough challenge to get the blood pumping and marvelous views at the top.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 3.1 miles out-and-back. Add another .1 mile to get to your car.
  • Elevation Change –830 feet
  • Difficulty 3. There are two significant climbs on this hike.  The first ascent gains several hundred feet in elevation and is pretty easy.  After a short, gentle series of ups and downs, the second ascent is significantly steeper/longer and includes two short rock scrambles.
  • Trail Conditions 2. The trail is extremely rocky.
  • Views –4. The view are beautiful and expansive – a little more than 180 degrees of mountains and valleys.
  • Waterfalls/streams 0. Non-existent.
  • Wildlife 0. The only creature we saw was a toad.
  • Ease to Navigate 4. Just follow the yellow blazes. There are no turns or trail junctions.
  • Solitude4. Tibbet Knob is less popular than its sister hike, Big Schloss. You may see a few hikers, but you probably won’t see large groups.

Directions to trailhead:
From I-81, take exit 279. Follow Rte. 675 until it meets Route 42. Turn right on 42 and then take almost an immediate left on 675 (Wolf Gap Road). Follow Wolf Gap Road until you come to the Wolf Gap Campground (right on the Hardy County Line.) The trailhead is across the road from the campground.

Kaylor Knob

Kaylor Knob is a fairly easy 3.5 mile ridge hike offering nice (but slightly obstructed) views.  The summit is the highest point on Second Mountain.

The rhododendrons and wild azaleas are starting to bloom.
The rhododendrons and wild azaleas are starting to bloom. Below: The view was cloudy and hazy from Kaylor Knob.

View from Kaylor Knob Trail

Adam Says…

For those that regularly follow our blog, you may know that Christine sprained her ankle badly during our hike up Buzzard Rock.  While she was healing, we participated in a Backpacking 101 course through PATC. The workshop concludes with an overnight backpacking trip scheduled for the first weekend in May.  We decided to test out the ankle with some extra weight to see if going on the backpacking trip would even be possible.  So, we got our gear together and decided to do a short hike to Kaylor Knob after work last Friday.

While you can approach this summit from Cub Run, we decided to try the shorter approach,  taking off from the overlook at Massanutten Resort.  The hike starts across the road from the parking lot at the top of the overlook.  We have hiked this trail several times to the first overlook where a geocache is hidden, but this was the first time that we took the hike to the summit.  Since the last time we did this hike, someone has improved the trail markings.  You simply follow the blue-blazed trail along the way (some points also have blue signs marked with a “K.K.” and the mileage).  At around .5 miles, you will come to a junction with another trail that is marked with pink blazes.  Just stay to the right and continue on the blue-blazed trail.  At .75 miles, you will come to a small rock outcropping that has a nice view to the west.  If you continue up the hill past this outcropping, you will continue to walk along the ridge.  You will see views to the west and east through the trees that will open up at different spots.  At 1.75 miles, you will come to the summit, which is marked with a larger outcropping and nice views toward Shenandoah National Park. There used to be a summit sign, but as of spring 2017, it’s gone! After taking some time to enjoy the views head back the way you came.

Adam tries out the backpack
Adam tries out the backpack.

I do think the views to the east are better than the views to the west on this hike.  If you wanted to see a nice sunrise, you should get up early to make it to the summit by sunrise.  If you are a geocacher, there are two caches you could easily reach hiking this trail:

This is a great short hike to do if you’re visiting the Massanutten area.

Christine Says…

Adam and I have a backpacking trip coming up, so I needed to get out there and give the ankle a good test drive.  Our original plan was to hike somewhere in Shenandoah on Saturday and then spend the night camping in our backyard.  However, the weather took a turn for the worse, and we ended up just squeezing in a quick hike to Kaylor Knob on Friday evening. (we also skipped the tent in the backyard  and slept in our nice, plush bed instead.)

I managed to load about 25 pounds of gear into our backpack for the “dress rehearsal”.  My ankle felt completely fine for the entire hike – stable and painless.  The pack was easy to carry and comfortable.  It did make the hills a little tougher, but I still felt really good.  I know our packs for the trip will be a little heavier, but this was still a decent test.

The Kaylor Knob hike is not particularly remarkable.  It’s pretty and peaceful and has two nice viewpoints along the way.  There are definitely more impressive trails in our area, but this one is a five minute drive from the house, so it was perfect for a quick after-work hike.

Kaylor Knob Summit
The Kaylor Knob summit has a nice place to sit.

Note: If you have a couple days in the area, be sure to check out the Massanutten Ridge Trail!

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 3.5 miles out-and-back
    (Check out the stats from Map My Hike)*
  • Elevation Change – about 450 feet
  • Difficulty –1.5 Most people should be able to do this.
  • Trail Conditions – 3. While the trail is used often, it contains lots of pointy rocks.
  • Waterfalls/streams – 0. Non-existent.
  • Views – 2.5. Pretty, but not terribly open or panoramic.
  • Wildlife –1.5 There isn’t much room for wildlife on the top of this ridge.  Expect to see birds of prey soaring in view as well as many of the local birds in the thickets.
  • Ease to Navigate –4.5. If you stay on the blue-blazes, you’ll be fine.
  • Solitude –3. You may see some people due to its popularity with vacationers, but you should still have mostly solitude.

Download a trail map (PDF)

Directions to trailhead: From Harrisonburg, head east on US 33 for about 10 miles. Turn left at the Exxon on the left and head on SR 644, Resort Drive.  Follow this road and take a left on Massanutten Drive.  You will reach a guard house.  Let the guard know that you are here to hike and they will give you a guest pass.  After about 3 miles, take a right on Del Webb Drive. Follow Del Webb Drive for about two miles until you begin to drive up to the ridge, where there is a parking lot on the left.  After you park here, cross the road.  At the end of the guard rail you will begin the Kaylor Knob trail.

Buzzard Rock

This 4 mile out-and-back hike takes you to a ridge walk with views of Fort Valley below.

Adam on Buzzard Rock
From Buzzard Rock, you get a great view of Passage Creek and Fort Valley below. Below: The view below from this vantage point; Scrabbly pines are the predominant tree at the summit

View of Fort Valley

Adam Says…

This was the first time that we had done this hike.  The hike seems to be very popular for people from nearby Front Royal, Winchester and Northern Virginia.  It is not too difficult of a hike, which makes it a great hikes for families and newbie hikers.

You start the trail from the parking lot and you’ll follow the double white blazes for the entire trip.  You begin walking through a piney area that will smell nice if the area has been warmed up in the spring/summer sun.  The trail has some hills to go up and down and a few small streams to cross.  Around 1.0 miles, you will arrive at a frequently-used campsite.  Just cross the campsite and continue up the trail for about another .75 miles until you reach the first overlook.  You will continue up the hill to reach the ridgeline.  Continue to hike across the ridge to take in the views from different angles.  Once you feel that you have seen all that you would like, you can return the way you came.

Trail Sign
The trail is well-marked and connects to other local GWNF trails. Below: Lots of stuff along the trail is in bloom now; the rocks at the top are covered in lichen.

Blossoms Flowering Trees Lichen

For any of those people that are interested in geocaching, you can grab three easy ones along the trail.  All of them are normal-sized containers and have some things to trade.  One of these was placed by our inspiration for a lot of hikes, Hiking Upward.

Unfortunately, this trip was marred for us since my wife sprained her ankle very badly at the top of the ridge.  She somehow managed to hike back down under her own power despite my offerings to carry her down – quite a trooper!  We definitely will do this hike another time.

Christine Says…

Buzzard Rock was a beautiful hike for a beautiful spring day.   The summit offers a great scenic payoff with minimal effort.  The elevation gain of 650 feet is very gradual with the exception of one very short, steep climb to the ridgeline.

The early part of the hike passes close to civilization, so the sound of cars and glimpses of houses are always in sight.  However, within a half a mile, the trail leads away from everything and passes through a pretty stretch of open woods with very little undergrowth.  In early spring, the forest floor is covered with tiny wildflowers peeking out from under the brown leaves. The view from the trail eventually opens up and provides a nice view of the Front Royal Fish Hatchery and the surrounding valley below.

The view of the valley below is beautiful! Below: The Front Royal Fish Hatchery; A view of the Buzzard Rock “spine”

From this point on the trail is extremely uneven and rocky – big slabs of stone, angle up out of the ground like jagged teeth… more about that later.  The view from the top is not as dramatic as other Virginia hikes, mostly because you can’t see many distant layers of ridges.  What you do see is a deep, narrow valley below with Fort Valley Road and Passage Creek winding their way through.  Because of all the recent rain, we could hear creek’s roar even hundreds of feet above.

We enjoyed the view, had some trail mix and then headed back down the mountain.  I stopped along to way to photograph some flowering trees.  When I turned to rejoin Adam, I moved a bit too hastily and carelessly.  The toe of my boot got caught between two of the “jagged teeth” on the ridge.  My toe stopped dead, but my ankle kept moving.  It completely rolled to the side, resulting in a bad Grade 2 ankle sprain.

I was extremely glad to get back to parking lot so I could stop walking on my injured ankle. Below: My bruised and deformed ankle.

My ankle immediately started to bruise and swell, but I had no choice but to hike myself out.  Adam found a makeshift walking stick in the woods, and that helped offset weight on my injured foot.  Nonetheless, it was a long two miles back down to the car. I’ll be off the trails for several weeks to come while my ankle heals and rehabs.  I’m hoping it won’t take as long as the doctor predicted.  I hate to waste three (or more) weeks of this fantastic spring hiking weather.

Wookie Says...Wookie Says…

This was a great first hike of the year for me!  It wasn’t very steep, and I love to scramble on rocks.  What I liked less were all the small stream crossings on this trail.  I hate to get my paws wet and muddy, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing on this hike.  I actually acted quite brave, and on the return trip I crossed all the streams with confidence.  Maybe I’ll be a water loving dog yet!

Wookie on the Trail
Wookie had a great time on the hike.

I really enjoyed the breezy overlook atop Buzzard Rock.  I liked sniffing the air and feeling the sun on my back.  I even got to enjoy a few graham crackers from my masters’ trail mix.  I also got some water from my portable dog dish.

It was a great day, but I have a feeling I’m getting a bath when I get home.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 4 miles – out-and-back
  • Elevation Change –around 650 feet
  • Difficulty – 2 This trail isn’t too steep and most people should be able to make it up to the top.
  • Trail Conditions – 3. The trail is in decent shape.  There are some muddy spots and a lot of jagged rocks on the ridge.
  • Views –3.5. There are great views along the entire ridge.  We would have liked it better if we couldn’t see a road below.
  • Waterfalls/streams –1. There are a few rock-hops across some streams, but nothing photo-worthy.
  • Wildlife – 1. This is a better bird-watching trip than a trip for spotting any mammals.  We were glad we saw a buzzard at the top since it is their rock.
  • Ease to Navigate – 4.5. The trail is well-marked with a white double blaze.
  • Solitude – 2 . This is a popular trail for local families and also rock climbers.

Directions to trailhead: From I-66, take 340 South Exit. Take a right on 55 – Strasburg Road. Take a left onto 678 – Fort Valley Road. Take a left onto Mountain Rd., Route 619, towards fish hatchery. Parking lot is on the right-hand side. If you are arriving from the south, go up 340 (following directions for Front Royal Airport) until you reach 619-Rivermont Drive. After a few miles, Rivermont Drive becomes Mountain Rd (At sharp right bend ~1/2 mile past Fire Dept.). Parking lot is on the left-hand side just past Massanutten Farms Rd. If you reach the fish hatchery or Fort Valley Road you have gone too far.

Big Schloss

Big Schloss is a moderate 4 mile hike with gorgeous views at the top. Located in George Washington National Forest’s Lee Ranger District, this trail is one of our favorite re-hikes due to great views and beauty of the trail.

Christine's dad and Adam at the Big Schloss overlook.
Christine’s dad and Adam at the Big Schloss overlook.

Adam says…

Since Christine’s birthday is this week, her parents wanted to do something to celebrate.  So, we decided to take them on a hike to Big Schloss and have a picnic.   We’ve done this hike on numerous occasions, but this was the first time for her parents.

German settlers to this area named this rock outcropping “Big Schloss” due to its resemblance to a castle.  “Schloss” means “castle” in German.

We parked at the Wolf Gap Campground.  There are outhouses near the parking lot in case you need to make a pit stop before the hike.   The Mill Mountain trailhead starts out from campsite #9.  You’ll see the trail marker indicating a distance of two miles to Big Schloss.

Christine's mom climbs the Mill Mountain Trail
Christine’s mom climbs the Mill Mountain Trail.  Below:   We saw lots of red and yellow in the trees already, the first panoramic view after the initial ascent, Christine’s Mom and Dad check out the small cave

red foliage_1 first look cave

The hike starts off with a fairly steep and steady uphill.  However, you are getting this portion of the hike done with first, which is a nice bonus.  After .66 miles, your climb ends. When you reach the ridge, the trail takes a sharp turn to the left.   For most of the remainder of this hike, you will be walking on the top of the ridge, with occasional views through the trees to your left of the Long Mountain ridge and better views to your right.

At .78 miles, you will come to your first overlook.  We noticed quite a bit of tree color on the trail and at the overlooks, which gets us both excited for some fall hiking.   You’ll continue walking on the ridge, going slightly up and down, but not a lot of elevation change.  At 1.75 miles, you will reach a signpost leading you to take a right to take the Big Schloss spur trail to the summit just .25 miles ahead.   At 1.9 miles, you will see a campsite off to the left of the main trail and a small rock outcrop that holds a small cave.

You access the Big Schloss overlook via a small wood footbridge.
You access the Big Schloss overlook via a small wood footbridge.

Shortly after this, you will cross a wooden footbridge and then reach the summit for the best views.  There is not a ton of room on the rocks to view the summit, but you will likely have a spot to enjoy the view and eat a snack.

At the summit, we ate a small handful of trailmix and then made our way back to the parking lot for a picnic lunch.  Christine’s mother went overboard on packing for the picnic.  She brought about 15 pieces of fried chicken, various pasta salads, pineapple, grapes, cheese & crackers, three different bags of potato chips, assorted beverages, and two birthday cakes (lemon blueberry cake and coconut cake).  We ate way more than should have, but we had a wonderful morning for a hike.

Adam and our friend Shannon found the Big Schloss Cache back in 2007.
Adam and our friend Shannon found the Big Schloss Cache back in 2007.

If you are into geocaching, there is one that you can find not too far from the summit.

Christine Says…

Big Schloss is one of my favorite hikes in the Lee District.  It’s a beautiful hike in every season!  Springtime brings a trail lined with mountain laurel and rhododendron.  In the fall, the changing foliage colors spread across the valley below like a colorful tapestry (photo from Fall ’08).  Summer brings fog in the valley and dense green foliage all around (photo from May 2007).  In the winter, views are crystal clear and unobstructed for miles and miles.

Big Schloss offers beautiful, panoramic views - especially to the west.
Big Schloss offers beautiful, panoramic views – especially to the west.

The area is popular with central Virginians.  The Wolf Gap campground is often full, and you’ll see hiking groups  – especially on weekends.  We’ve seen everything from hardcore mountain bikers to ultra-distance trail runners on the Mill Mountain trail.  A couple years ago, we even met a team of competitive cyclists helping an injured teammate off the mountain.  The terrain is very rugged, so I imagine you’d have to be an experienced mountain biker to travel this route.

On this particular day, we hiked with my Mom & Dad to celebrate my birthday.  In addition to their wonderful company, I also got the gift of a new hiking gadget before starting the hike.  My parents gave me a pair of Komperdell trekking poles.  I’ve been wanting to get a set of poles for quite some time now, so I was thrilled with the present.  I don’t really have the best of balance, so I loved the added stability the poles gave me hiking down the loose, rocky trail on the return trip.  I was also amazed with how much strain they took off my knees. The model they gave me has cork handles, which are apparently cooler and chafe less than other handle types.

We were surprised to see how many colorful leaves had already fallen.
We were surprised to see how many colorful leaves had already fallen.

When we started out on our hike, the sky was brilliant blue with just an occasional cloud passing by overhead.  By the time we got to the overlook, the sky was mostly cloudy and hazy.  It wasn’t the best view that we’ve ever had from Big Schloss, but it was beautiful nonetheless.  I loved seeing the hints of autumn starting to appear in the forest.  The Virginia creeper was crimson.  A lot of maples and dogwoods were starting to change, too.  At every open viewpoint, we could see distant ridges with red, yellow and orange trees peppered into the greenness.  Fall is definitely on its way, and I think it might be coming early this year.

We really didn’t stay too long at the summit, especially since we had a big picnic lunch waiting for us at the campground.  As Adam mentioned, my mom went nuts with quantity and selection.   I’m not complaining, but seriously… who brings two birthday cakes to a picnic lunch for four people?

My mom even brought birthday candles along.  My family “sang” Happy Birthday to me while the breeze repeatedly blew out the candles.  You’ll notice “sang” is in quote marks.  I have to tell you, my family cannot sing – not a single note.  They’re so bad, it’s become a family joke to make “Happy Birthday to You” sound like the saddest, most off-key, howl-inducing dirge you might ever imagine.  Since we were in a public place, my dad and Adam put extra effort into singing it loudly and badly.  I think I heard babies crying, dogs barking and campers exclaiming “What is that noise?”

After lunch, we parted ways with my parents and headed home.  It was a great hike.

Note: There is another great trail starting out from the Wolf Gap Campground.  If you have a couple days in the area, check out the Tibbet Knob trail.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 4 milesout-and-back. Add another .1 mile to get to your car.
  • Elevation Change –1000 feet
  • Difficulty 2.  After a rather steep .7 mile climb at the beginning, the trail is mostly level and follows a ridge.  There is one other short climb after the Mill Mountain Trail meets up with the Big Schloss spur.
  • Trail Conditions 2.5.  The trail is well-maintained but it’s rocky and has lots of loose footing in the first .7 mile.
  • Views –4.5. The view are pretty spectacular – especially on a clear day.
  • Waterfalls/streams 0. Non-existent.
  • Wildlife 0 We didn’t see anything beyond chipmunks, birds and squirrels.  We did see a fawn near the Wolf Gap campground.
  • Ease to Navigate 4.  Just stay straight on the trail.
  • Solitude2. This trail doesn’t see the same crowds as trails in Shenandoah National Park, but it is a popular hike with the local crowd.

Download a Trail Map (PDF)

Directions to trailhead:
From I-81, take exit 279.  Follow Rte. 675 until it meets Route 42.  Turn right on 42 and then take almost an immediate left on 675 (Wolf Gap Road).  Follow Wolf Gap Road (you will have to make a few turns so keep an eye at road junctions) until you come to the Wolf Gap Campground (right on the Hardy County Line.)

Strickler Knob – via Scothorn Gap

The Strickler Knob hike is a beautiful, 5.5 mile hike in the Lee Ranger District of George Washington National Forest.  It offers fabulous views of the Page Valley and a short, but fun, rock scramble.

View from Strickler
The view of New Market Gap from Strickler Knob is amazing! Below: Park at Scothorn Gap; Adam crossing Passage Creek; Trail markers.

Park Here Crossing Passage Creek Trail Sign

Adam says…

This is a great hike that is still not very well known.  There are some great views at the top and a mini rock scramble that is good preparation for anyone who wants a little practice before tackling Old Rag.  I wouldn’t recommend this hike for small children or dogs due to the rock scramble.

The hike can be a little tricky to navigate, so I have provided some clear directions for following the trail.

After parking at Scothorn Gap, you’ll immediately wade or rock hop across Passage Creek.  The hike starts off on a fire road.  The way starts to get fairly steep at .4 miles, but levels off again at .65 miles. At .8 miles, the hike gets steep again, but levels at .95 miles. This is the hardest part of the hike, so once that is done, the elevation changes are small. At 1.07 miles, you will see a nice campsite for anyone that wants to stay overnight. At this point, you will see an arrow pointing to the right, where you will pick up the trail again. The trail continues SSE from the campsite and you will be leaving the fire road for a hike through the woods. At 1.3 miles, you will come to a junction sign. Head straight on to the orange-blazed Massanutten trail.

At 1.94 miles you will come to the junction with the Strickler Knob trail to the right. This trail was built and opened in 2006 by some anonymous trailblazers. The blazes for this trail are marked as pink on rocks and typically red or purple rectangles on trees. This trail is fairly rocky, so be careful not to turn your ankles. Around 2.5 miles, you will see gorgeous views of the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east. To the west, you will see more of the Shenandoah valley and the Appalachian Mountains. At 2.67 miles, you will reach a rock scramble for about one tenth of a mile until you reach the summit. This is a great spot to have 360 degree views of the area around you. Tied to a tree, you will also see a logbook that someone placed for people to journal about their hike.  It’s definitely a good read to those that are interested.

For those that are interested, I also placed a geocache up there.  The direct link for the geocache can be found at:

Rock Formation
The hike to Strickler Knob has lots of interesting rock formations to scramble over! Below: One of the more interesting formations; Adam walks the mountain’s spine; Scrambling up the pinkish-purple blazed Strickler Trail; More rock formations.

Rock Formation Spine Walk Scrambling Rock Formation

Christine says…

We hiked the Strickler Knob trail on the recommendation of a friend of mine from Flickr.  He said it was a fun hike with excellent views.  He wasn’t kidding!

We walked the trail on a bitter, windy winter day shortly before the forest road closed for the season.  The section of road that leads to the trailhead is periodically closed in the winter to prevent damage to the road surface.  (You can always check the status of roads and trails in the George Washington National Forest on their website) The hike was fairly easy and passed through the beautiful woods of Massanutten Mountain.  The Strickler Knob trail branches off the main trail and follows a rocky ridgeline over to the knob.  I love scrambling on rocks, so the last portion of the trail was my favorite part.

When we reached the knob, the view was amazing.  We got there mid-day, so it wasn’t a great time for photography.  I’d like to hike it again in the afternoon sometime.  I think the late day light would be prettier on the rocks and over the valley below.

Trail Journal
There is a log book at the summit of Strickler Knob.  Below:  Adam takes in the view; Geocaching

Strickler View Geocache

While Adam hid his geocache, I spent some time reading the trail journal at the summit.  It was entertaining, and I even came across the name of an old co-worker in the book.    I also remember it being super windy at the summit.  It was so bad, my bag of trailmix blew over and (sadly) sent chocolate covered peanuts spilling all over the rocks.  I hate it when I lose chocolate like that.  I’m sure some stupid crow enjoyed it though.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 5.5 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Change – 1,600 feet
  • Difficulty – 3.  There is some moderate climbing along the route.  The scramble might be tough/scary for some.
  • Trail Conditions – 3.   Most of the trail is nicely graded and well maintained.  But once you turn onto the Strickler Knob trail it’s rocky and requires some scrambling.
  • Views – 4.  Once you reach the top you have some great views.
  • Waterfalls/streams – 1.  Just a small stream to cross at the beginning.
  • Wildlife – 2.  Hunters like this area, so there must be wildlife (although we didn’t see any.) During hunting season, make sure you’re wearing bright colors and making noise.  A co-worker who was running up here also got attacked by a wild goat here.
  • Ease to Navigate – 3.   The blazes can be a little tricky to follow on the pink blazed Strickler Knob trail.  Otherwise, the trail is pretty straightforward.
  • Solitude – 2.  Since 2009, this trail has become increasingly popular.  We revised the solitude rating from 4.5 down to 2 in 2014.

Directions to trailhead:

Reach the trailhead by turning on to Crisman Hollow Road (FD 274) off of 211 near Luray. Continue on this road for a few miles and park at the Scothorn Gap trail parking.

Once you have parked follow Orange Blazes on Scothorn Gap trail.  Follow trail directions above.