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Elliot Knob - Buffalo Gap, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.5 mls
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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: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 13, 2015
We hiked his as an overnight on a hot and humid weekend. Luckily, we were blessed with a few light showers and that cooled us down before we hit the steep part to the top, which has a few shady spots but it mostly exposed to the sun. I didn't mind the gravel FS road up, though (aside from the heat) as it was a nice challenge, but it was not brutal. We took several breaks and were fine. I actually thought going up the FS road on the Robertson Mountain hike (reviewed her on HU), was harder. I gave this hike three stars because the views from the top are beautiful, and we really enjoyed the lookout tower. There is, of course, graffiti and trash in there, but it's not bad given how many people go in it. While the views from the tower are great, the best ones were of the sunset from a rocky outcrop a short hike back down the trail from the summit on the right. If you're on the summit, that view includes part of a radio tower, which is a little blah, but it's still nice and the sky was gorgeous at sunrise, too. We shared the summit with a pretty loud group of college boys who claimed the campsites under the pines, but we were content with the campsite out in the open. They spent most of the evening in the tower, but quieted down by 2300. Waking up at 3am to stargaze was the highlight of this hike. So many stars to see and so quiet. If you are hiking this in the summer, be sure to bring bug spray, though, as the biting gnats were horrendous and left bites that bled and itched for a week. When the sun went down it was cool enough to keep them at bay. Waterfalls were pretty, but I wasn't that impressed with the first part of the hike. Parking area is small - maybe four cars can fit without blocking anyone in. We ran into a few mountain bikers and day hikers, so solitude on this is more of a 3.

By: wisteriacamper Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 25, 2015
The Falls Hollow Trail was lovely, though watch out for snakes. We ran into a rattler that wasn't too pleased to see us, but he slithered off the path into the woods. The last portion (1.2 miles) of the hike is rough, though worth the view! Not sure I would hike this again, but it certainly was a good workout.

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: http://www.appalachainlove.com/2015/05/hiking-elliot-knob.html

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