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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: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 15, 2014
I tackled this as a day hike today with a group from Central Virginia Trailblazers.  The streams were flowing pretty fast due to the recent rain and snow, making the crossings a little tricky but doable.  The views of the waterfalls on the right of the trail were such a nice distraction that none of us noticed the three diamonds marking the sharp left turn, and we continued up the old Falls Hollow Trail.  The HU description says this trail is "no longer navigable"...but we just followed the stream and rock bed and did some bushwhacking until we made it to the top.  I wouldn't want to go through that again, but it was interesting to hike off trail for a change.  The towers at the top didn't detract from the outstanding views, and we never saw a soul the whole day despite the weather being perfect.  All in all a great hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 24, 2014
Great Hike. It can be a bit of a workout but well worth the view!

There are many changes in scenery along this hike. There are several falls in the area most of which were frozen over which was amazing. Lots of water sources. When you shift to a small trail the growth is think on each side of the trail for a couple of miles. There isn't really any place to get off the trail when on Hollow trail. Blazes are clearly marked and the trail is in really good condition. Once you get on the last leg the trail will open up to an old vehicle path that was used to get to the fire lookout. This is a steep incline. I will spend the last mile in a half climbing about 1500ft. This makes this trail slightly harder than a moderate in my opinion but we also had two days of gear on our backs and lots of snow on the ground. Beware as you near the top, winds are extremely high. At night we were experiencing approx. 35mph winds (tore a tarp in half) so come prepared.

Over all I loved the challenge and the rewarding sites made it well worth the trip. Even in January we ran into three hiking groups. It seems this is a well traveled trail.

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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 24, 2013
We really liked this hike. It was very easy up the logging road, as well as the creek section with the falls. Even the upper section of the Falls Hollow Trail was simple. We had a little snow & it was very windy & the hardest part was the mile up the STEEP access road. I know that it's been noted that it is the hardest part. We have hiked most trails in SW VA, even though we are not AT hikers (we try :)) & this was quite a trek. The top & fire tower were amazing! It's in great shape compared to the others we've found. Probably bc not many vandals will make that hike (thankfully). Overall, the trails were well-marked, well-maintained & the views were gorgeous, antennas aside. Very glad we did it in the winter, even if it was 12 degrees. lol. Definitely one of our favorites now!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 03, 2013
Had a little trouble finding this hike because my directions said it would be on the left. Is off 42 S/Little Calf Pasture Highway, on the RIGHT, directly after a yellow-green school bus crossing sign. The parking area is more like a pull off wide enough for a couple of cars. There is a small brown marker #291 under a stop sign to the left side of the parking area for further identification. Hope that helps any future hikers. Really enjoyed this hike! Not the most scenic on the way up, but beautiful views at the top. Also a great workout.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 14, 2013
When I started up the trail there was quite a bit of fog and some rain, but at the summit I was treated to brilliant sunlight and a view of a sea of clouds in all directions. In short, it was amazing.

I doubt that specific scenario can play out for everyone, but even without that this was quite an enjoyable hike. Due to the recent rain pretty much every inch of the trail was slippery with wet leaves and all the streams were running very full.

The last mile or so on the access road is pretty grueling, you definitely aren't expecting that after the gradual ascent up to that point. The fire tower is a good way to get a higher vantage point so long as it remains structurally sound... seems that way for now.

For solitude, this was great. I only met one couple on their way up when I was on my way down, no crowds here!

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