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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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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: BenJ Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 29, 2017
The creek was up and covered part of the trail. We unblocked a log jam that was helping it overflow the trail. There are a couple of trees that are down over the "cross mountain" part. The temperature was pleasant and only saw a couple of other people. Nice hike with flowering bushes in the forest to look at.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 08, 2017
We split the hike into two days and camped at the top, which was a little chilly this time of year but gorgeous.

Day one was ROUGH for us. Hiking along the waterfalls was refreshing and shady, but we missed the nearly 360-degree turn off of the old Falls Hollow Road onto the yellow blazed trail. On the website, it shows three yellow diamonds on your right indicating to turn left but those diamonds are either no longer there or no longer visible. We hiked straight on the old trail for about half a mile before the trail got too strenuous and we realized we hadn't seen any yellow diamonds. So we turned around and retraced our steps. Luckily, it is easier to see the crazy turn when you are headed back down the hill. The next part of the trail after the turn was shaded and less sloped.

But things change drastically once you hit the dirt access road. I'll be quite honest - I felt incredibly defeated climbing the steep 25% grade. The only thing you can really do is take it in short bursts. The view from the top of that mountain is well worth it though! Including short breaks and our little detour, it took us about 4-4.5 hours to get to the top of the mountain. Also when it comes to water, keep in mind that the only source once you break away from the waterfalls and creek is the pond near the top. Even after filtering it, the water still has a dirty pond water taste and we much preferred the cold creek water. You just have to decide if you are willing to carry all that extra weight up the hardest part of the hike.

There are plenty of places to set up camp and start a fire if you want to. We slept great in our tent and sleeping bags even though the temp dropped to 30 degrees. The top of the mountain is an amazing place to watch the sun rise and set though. Day 2 was much easier and all downhill even though it is the same distance. We were down and to the car in just about 1.5-2 hours. Overall a beautiful hike, but you have to brace yourself for the end of the climb up.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 04, 2017
Did this hike as described in the guide. Beautiful hike and the falls were really nice with plenty of water in winter. A couple of spots near the top of the Falls Hollow have washed out and you have to pick your way through a section of the stream, but it wasn't too hard. I thought the switchback trail would be hard but it was relatively easy and a very nice trail. Then, we got to the access road and it kicked my butt. I routinely hike Humpback Rock without stopping to catch my breath, but this is significantly tougher. Expect a real workout and I can only imagine how hot this must be in summer. That said, getting to the top was all worth it. A really nice view and great open area that appears to be used (but not abused) for camping. Coming down, expect the access road to be a knee crusher, with loose gravel and grades steeper than 15% making it be hard on your knees. I'll do it again, but I won't do it in summer.

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 19, 2017
After reading the "less than stellar" reviews of hiking to Elliott Knob from VA42, we decided to approach the summit from the south on North Mountain trail which can be accessed via Hite Hollow Road. The trailhead was at coordinates 38.132985, -79.362688 (roughly). The trail appears on the "MyTrails" map if downloaded to ones GPS unit. But it is easy to stay on the trail without a GPS.

Our group of 7 hikers really enjoyed the hike. It was a 4.2 mi hike to the summit ascending approx 1,300 feet (8.5 mi RT - we are tired). The ascent was consistent but not overwhelming. The trail was in good shape although it was single file for a bit due to overgrowth.

Very interesting rock formations along the way.

The tower is located on a bald at the top of the mountain. Nice places to sit and have lunch and the view from the tower was excellent in all directions. Being the highest point in Augusta Co. (and the 3rd highest peak in Virginia), this is a must-do hike. Go the way we went - you won't be dissapointed.


By: CH Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
Hiked up from rt 42 then and finished at VA 688 with a scout troop. Going up the first 2/3s was nice. Once we got to the service road it became an aerobic workout. The road goes basically straight up for a mile +. It would not be a fun climb in July or August. The view from the tower is great. We took the north mountain trail over to rt 688 (see Chimney Hollow/Elliot Knob hike). That is a good trail with lots of solitude. If I was to do this again I would have done it in reverse.

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