Fridley Gap in the George Washington National Forest has
a little bit of everything. From gentle mountain streams, to
ridge climbs and a great swimming hole this hike has it all. Located at the southern end of the Massanutten range just east of Harrisonburg Virginia the hike is secluded. Consider taking a swim at the Fridley Gap swimming hole which is perfect on a hot summer day a 1/2 mile from the parking area, but remember this is cold mountain water anytime of the year!
Mile 0.0 - From the parking area on Airey Road walk up to the trailhead of the Fridley Gap Trail where the road turns left towards private property. Follow the Fridley Gap Trail next to Mountain Run on the left bank. The trail will climb through the gap and pass a side trail on the left. This leads to the private road up from the parking area. Continue upstream on the Fridley Gap trail crossing through Mountain Run twice.
Mile 0.46 - Arrive at the swimming hole. This large pool and table rock falls is a perfect place to take a swim on a hot summer day. From the swimming hole there is a campsite directly upstream, and the intersection with the Massanutten South Trail is in another 100 yards.
Mile 0.5 - Arrive at the intersection with the orange blazed Massanutten South Trail. Turn right crossing the run. There will be another larger campsite just upstream from this crossing. Continue on the orange trail south as it begins to climb on the eastern side of Fourth Mountain. In 1.4 miles from the run the trail will arrive at the ridge, with an unmarked side trail to a rock outcropping and view westward towards the Harrisonburg valley.
Mile 1.9 - Continue south on the orange Massanutten South Trail as it follows the ridge then makes two switchbacks and and crosses Fridley Run. The trail then turns back to the north and climbs on the western side of Third Mountain. Pass over the ridge of Third Mountain and through a small open area. The trail now follows a wider path that also serves as a forestry road, and descends for 0.3 miles to the 4-way intersection with the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail.
Mile 3.9 - At the 4-way intersection the Massanutten South Trail turns right, with the Fridley Gap Trail coming n from the left and continuing straight. Turn left at this intersection onto the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail. The Fridley Gap Trail follows a gravel forestry road at this point. The trail will descend for 0.7 miles and arrive at the intersection where the Fridley Gap Trail turns off the forestry road left uphill, and the forestry road continues as the blue blazed Martin Bottom Trail.
Mile 4.6 - Turn left off the gravel forestry road as the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail now starts climbing Third Mountain. The trail is rocky and steep and makes several small switchbacks then arrives at the ridge in 0.35 miles. Descend the steep western side of Third Mountain. The trail is rocky and has has only a couple of switchbacks before levelling out and arriving at the intersection with the orange blazed Massanutten South Trail.
Mile 5.6 - Turn left on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail for 0.1 miles back to Mountain Run and the intersection with Fridley Gap Trail you hiked up earlier.
Mile 5.7 - Turn right downstream on the Fridley Gap Trail passing the swimming hole on the left. Retrace your route back to Airey Rd. and the parking area.
Mile 6.2 - Arrive back at the parking area on Airey Rd.
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Reviews For The Fridley Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
Reading the previous reviews, intimidated me. "Had to stay over night after getting lost...." While we did the whole trail in about 6 hours, I have to say, this one kicked my rear. After the watering hole, we initially turned right and followed the stream/creek to a dead end. We went back to the watering hole intersection and went the opposite direction. Holy heck, i was not ready for the vertical hike. It felt like I was on a stair master for hours. I wish I had looked at the topo map prior to this outing. I'd have mentally prepared myself. I'm still rehabing an ACL reconstruction and the verticals were harsh but routine stops to reset my heart and breathing. It's beautiful country.
I won't bore you with the whole trek after that first ascent. Several times we thought we were approaching the "3rd ascent" and we were wrong. On the descent, I fell behind the group and wound up going downhill for 30-45 minutes and I kept telling me self, "why am I not hearing the water flowing yet!" There are some great views of the valley. The hike (after that first ascent) was wonderful. The overlook view was gorgeous. I'm definitely glad I went on this hike.
Point of clarification. if you turn right after the watering hole, the trail takes a steep descent on the "right" side of the creek. You should cross the stream/creek immediatetly after turning right at the intersection. Do not following the stream. That is where my group went wrong.
Date of Hike: Thursday, November 17, 2016
This hikes is one of my favorites close to Harrisonburg. Some of the turn can be a little tricky but if you follow the maps and pay attention to the color of the blazes you will be fine. If you hike often and are in pretty decent shape you can knock this one out in about two hours.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2016
Awesome hike! This hike is pretty steep, mostly just on the purple part. I would recommend hiking the whole trail in two days. I camped with two others at the swimming hole and that was very nice. Locals will frequent the swimming hole from an easy access route that doesn't require much hiking so take note that you'll likely run into a handful of other hikers at the swimming hole.
CAMPING: There are 4 or 5 small cleared camping spots along the orange marked trail. They are in decent spots but the only cleared camping spots with easy water access are at the swimming hole. The swimming hole is a great spot to camp, however you will see other hikers there. The orange portion of the trail has fewer hikers and is pretty secluded. Also on the orange part you could stray a few hundred feet from the trail and find a ton of great spots to make your own campsite. The purple portion of the trail is likely too steep to camp comfortably (unless that's what you're in to). GETTING TO THE TRAIL (it's a little confusing): You'll see the sign for Washington National Forest at a gravel road. You can park at the very first intersection but make sure you don't block any direction. Best bet is to parallel park on the gravel road somewhere. You can take Boone Trail to begin. Or you can drive (or walk) up the gravel road to the next trail head. From what I understand, you have to start using one of these other trails.
Message/email me with questions!
Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Hope somebody checks in and reads this to help me out. I "accidentally" ended up spending the night in the park (unplanned as it got too dark for me to continue) and when I was picked up I was told I was near or at Fridley Gap. Now what I'm gonna say next will be hard for most to believe - but I started this trek at the Overlook at Massanutten, just out for a short jog I thought. I had never hiked there or on the Massanutten trails, so I got REALLY off those trails. Anyhow, I know there must be quite a few ways to get onto the trails, so I'm going to do the best I can to describe my last approx. half mile and see if anyone recognizes this and can tell me if it was Fridley Gap/Cub Run. This last portion of my trek was pretty much all a path that followed and was next to a nice stream/creek. At one point the trail even seemed to be right on the creek itself as I had to walk over and on the rocks within the creek for at least I would say 20-25 yards before the path was back on solid ground. Another part of this path split to the left or right - following to the let kept me by the creek, going to the right would have been up a small hill. (I believe both of these trails ended up in the same place though) Close to the end of the trail were a big group of rocks to climb over and the end of the path ended up on a gravel road. There were gravel parking spots on both sides of this gravel road and the gravel road went downhill. I think I saw a sign at the end of this gravel road that might have said it was a private road, but not so sure about that. There was definitely a sign-but not exactly sure what it said. But there were 2 cars in this parking area - one for a camper that was about 1/2 mile in and camped out by a nice flat spot by the creek. Sooooo, by this description, can you tell me if this sounds like Fridley Gap / Cub Run? Thank you!!
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 24, 2016
We did this hike and our GPS measured it to be 10.1 miles. It was a LOT longer than the 6.2 that it is listed as. Maybe we parked in the wrong place? We used the map/our phones to park at the Hiking Upward dropped pin, and the directions as listed seemed to make sense, except for the extra long distances. Like other reviewers suggested, it was super buggy and that incline after the swimming hole is beast. Severely overgrown parts of the trail in the dead of summer (abundant wild blackberries-- tasty but thorny). We did spot a mama bear and her cub! We did not spot any other people.
The most helpful directions were from Matt G, a hiker who reviewed this hike in 2011-- I copy his great step-by-step directions here:
1. Once you get on the Orange Blazed Trail keep going on it until you see the Blue Blazed Trail.
2. Do NOT turn onto to the Blue Blazed Trail keep going on the Orange Blazed Trail.
3. Arrive at a 4 way Junction and a clearing. This is a great camp site, but there is another one about 1.5-2 miles away which breaks up the hike better if youíre doing the whole thing.
4. You want to turn left at this junction. It is a bit overgrown and might not seem correct but it is, even though the sign says Fridley Gap trail is another direction, donít go that way, make sure you go left at the four way junction.
5. There is another great camping area in this section at the top of a fairly long steep portion of the trail. Itís an established camp site with a rock fire pit. Once you have put your pack down make sure to climb up the small path, about 20 yards up is a fantastic view.
6. Keep following the Orange Blazed trail until you get to a junction in a valley by a stream. If you take the left fork you get to the Swimming Hole about 50 yards down the way. If you are not going to the Swimming Hole take the right junction going up to the right.
7. You will then take another right pretty quickly onto the Purple Blazed Trail (Leaving the Orange Blazed Trail)
8. This part of the trail is super steep. Itís about 0.75 miles and rises about 750 feet.
9. Stay on the Purple Blazed trail until you get back to the first four way junction you came across.
10. Now come back the way you came back to the parking area.