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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: Cecelia Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 11, 2016
If you are a meteor shower or sunset chaser, or if you want to be alone for a couple of days, this is a great place. Otherwise, I'd say this hike isn't worth it. It's frankly kind of ugly (minus the very top), and the gravel road makes it really hot. However, if you still want to go, this is what I learned:

Google maps will take you to an entrance that is not the same one described on this site. (I learned on back drive back eastward that it takes you maybe a quarter mile past it.) It takes you to a gate that says "Foot Travel Welcome - Closed to All Public Motor Vehicle Use" and there's a "School Bus Stop Ahead" sign right where you pull in. I happened to run into an employee of the area who confirmed that this was an okay place to park, even though the footage of dirt didn't really seem like it was fit for cars.

The hike itself was pretty brutal. Granted, I went on a hot, humid day with a large pack at 3:30 in the afternoon. The gravel rock bounces heat back up at you for the entire hike and there are no switchbacks and little sun coverage. There is, however, a good variety of butterflies, mosses, fungi, and shade on the the offshoots which provide great refuge from the path's otherwise mundaneness. I did not come across any waterfalls, but I did see the pond. The pond has a nice little stream running adjacent to it, which was great for filling up on water the next day. It is maybe 15/20 minutes from the top of the mountain.

There is lots of space to pitch a tent at the top, either on the summit itself or right beforehand where the gravel road ends. People have set up fire pits and have kept it pretty clean. Sunsets and meteors here are spectacular.

Overall, I enjoyed myself, but perhaps that's because the meteor shower was so good. The only reason I'd go up again is to watch another one.


By: BenJ Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 23, 2016
My 15 yo daughter and I had a great hike over the weekend. We arrived Saturday mid-morning, hiked up to the top just in time to catch a 30 minute rainstorm. After we dried out we realized we had the entire mountain to ourselves. We went up to the fire watch tower and the views were incredible. The wind was blowing very nicely as we looked at the setting sun. We spent the night at the campsite near all the TV Equipment. The downside is that a cooling tower or something intermittently turns on and off. The upside was that there was plenty of wood already cut and stacked for us. Something else I like about this hike is that there's plenty of water near the top of the mountain. The pond is clean and there are fish swimming in it. And there is a mini camp site close to the spring that feeds it. I imagine that if there were more people it wouldn't be so nice. But we really enjoyed ourselves on this hike. Now on to other places!

By: Joey B Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 24, 2015
I actually really enjoy this hike and have done it a few times. Sometimes I just do the Falls Hollow portion and turn around before the fire road. The portion along Falls Hollow follows a stream and has several waterfalls worth stopping to see. The gravel fire road near the end is brutal. Very steep. While I would prefer hiking through woods instead of on a road, this Falls Hollow to fire road route to the top of Elliots Know is the most convenient. I've never seen more than a couple other hikers on the trail, even in Fall when places like Shenandoah are packed.

My advice is if you really want to make it to the top, be prepared for the steep gravel road at the end. If you don't care about making it to the top, I think doing Falls Hollow by itself would be worth it, especially if you like streams.


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.

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