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.