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Elliot Knob - Buffalo Gap, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.5 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,425 ft
George Washington National Forest
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Park on VA42 at a small turn-in and closed gate. There will be a stop sign with '291' attached to it. 38.16125, -79.26927

Elliot Knob is the highest point in Augusta County, and one of the highest peaks in Virginia. Just west of Staunton and secluded in Buffalo Gap, this hike features two waterfalls, several great views to the west and east, and a grass covered summit. If you're lucky, this hidden treasure can be all yours for a day.

From the small parking area pass the closed gate and head up Falls Hollow Trail. The trail is marked with both yellow blazes and yellow plastic diamonds, and follows an old logging road for the first 1.5 miles.

At 0.4 miles pass a small logging road on your right, the first of four. In 0.6 miles from the parking area the trail makes a turn to the left before entering the first of three small clearings at 0.8 miles.

Pass through the clearings and arrive at Falls Hollow Run on your right in another 0.6 miles. Continue up the trail, cross the run, and in 50 yards reach the first of the two main falls. Cross the run again, where the trail becomes steep, then arrive at the largest set of falls in another 0.3 miles. There is a yellow diamond on a tree, and small pile of rocks marking the falls.

In another 0.1 miles the trail turns off the old FS road to the left. The turn is marked by three yellow diamonds. The old Falls Hollow Trail continues straight and is no longer navigable.

After turning left on the yellow blazed trail continue 0.8 miles, crossing two small spurs, and passing through a utility clear cut before arriving at an access road. Turn right uphill on the yellow blazed dirt access road for the steepest part of the hike before arriving at a spring and small pond in 1.0 miles.

Continue along the road as it passes a small stand of spruce, winds back to the right, then to the left, passes the yellow blazed North Mountain Trail and transmission station, then enters another stand of spruce and flatter area.

At this point the dirt road you have been following turns to the right towards the transmission station. Turn left onto the trail that climbs on the west side of the mountain and up to the grass covered summit in another 0.1 miles. The lookout tower was built in 1958 and hasn't been used since the early sixties. If you are doing this hike as a backpack there are two sheltered campsites under a stand of spruce at the summit.

To return retrace the route you took up. However, be alert for the left turn off the steep dirt access road onto the trail that leads back towards the run. There are three yellow diamonds making the intersection, take the immediate left onto he trail.

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Hiker Reviews For The Elliot Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Ken & Brenda Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 16, 2015
Once we got off the logging road it was beautiful. Love to hear the streams and falls while we hike. Then we got to the point in the directions on this site where you cross the utility clearing and we should have turned around at that point. We go to the woods to enjoy nature, but seeing the immensity of the clear cutting of the forest made us sick...such destruction! Then we walked up the dirt/gravel road for over a mile...that's not a hiking. We would not recommend it to anyone.

By: Frank Mack Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 15, 2015
Could have been better. Someone needs to be get signage to highlight the trail location on Route 42. And can we find some parking which is extremely limited? We guessed and ended up on the fire road which was very boring by going up. Found the trail on the way down which was nice. I have taken 12-15 hikes via hiking upward and this was the first one that was challenging to find and park. Thanks

By: Appalachian Love Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 03, 2015
Like other people before have said, this is a really difficult hike for the last mile or so. Once you hit the utility road the trail takes off uphill and I found myself stopping a lot to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow down and I would consider myself to be in really good athletic shape. However, the views at the top are beautiful! If it's a sunny day I would definitely wear sunscreen because you're exposed to the sun for a good portion of the hike- especially at the outlook. To read my review/about my trip:

By: AEH Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 14, 2015
My wife & I did this hike following the heavy northern Virginia snowfall during early March.  Most of it had melted, but the streams were pretty full making the two or three crossings a bit hair raising.  Fortunately, there were well made staffs awaiting on the correct side of the creek at all crossings.  The waterfalls were probably about a good as they get due to the earlier snowfall.  The middle part of the ascent is really very nice - not too steep with a nice surface and a good view here & there.  The sound of the flowing creek is also nice.  Once you reach the fire road, it's very steep w/o any leveling off.  Seems to me the grade is maybe 25% or steeper in places.  Just after we got to the fire road it started raining and became pretty windy.  By the time we reach the knob, the winds were strong enough to blow your hat off.  Unfortunately, it was fogged/clouded in and we got no views from the top.  Regardless, I'd recommend this hike if you don't mind about a mile of fairly boring and steep fire road on the way up and the way down.  We did get a couple of nice views from the fire road before the fog & rain arrived.

Parking is pretty limited at the trail head - maybe two or four cars.  But, we were the only ones on the mountain the day we did the hike.

By: Ridgerunner Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 31, 2015
Decided to knock this hike off the list. I've heard a lot of good things about it, and I was not disappointed. I've seen a lot of reviews that knock this hike, but it's not really warranted in my opinion. That said, you will want to be in fairly good shape though. It's not one of the easier hikes out there.

This is mainly a walk through the woods, criss-crossing back and forth across a narrow creek for the first mile, mile and a half with minimal elevation change (600-700 feet of gain).

From the first switch back, this trail really narrows. If there are multiple parties out there, you'll be yielding right of way often. Lucky for us, we saw very few people on the trail. This is expected when there is snow on the ground though, so no big surprise there.

Once you hit the road, the climb gets fairly intense. 1400' feet of gain in the last 3/4-1 mile to the summit. no switchbacks either. You just have to force yourself to keep moving.

The views from the top are without a doubt some of the best I've seen in Virginia. Well worth the extra effort it takes to get to the top.

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