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High Peak - Front Royal, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.0 mls
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4 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,650 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Turn into Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area (past group camping sign) Parking is on your right over a small bridge. 38.92917, -78.32929

The main attraction of the High Peak hike, located in the George Washington National Forest, is the unbelievable picnic area at Elizabeth Furnace. It is huge! Although there aren't many views and the trail is somewhat rocky it's a great hike to take with a group in the morning and then picnic afterwards.

Start on the right of the main parking area where a forestry service bulletin board marks the hikes beginning. Follow the white trail markers through the picnic grounds for 0.3 miles until the trail intersects Passage Creek and turns left uphill following the creek.

After 0.7 miles the white blazed connector trail intersects the pink blazed Sherman Gap Trail. Turn left uphill on the pink blazed trail for 2.5 miles for the steepest portion of the hike as it traverses the mountain then ascends steeply before reaching the ridge line intersention of the blue/orange Tuscarora/Massanutten Trail.

Side hike: If you like views and don't mind a little more hiking go right/south on the old Massanutten East trail from it's intersection with Sherman's Gap Trail (Pink) for maybe 1/2 mile tops. To the left there is a small rock ledge on a sharp point that juts out into the valley with some stunted pine trees ... great view of the Valley and River at the area of the river known as " The Point" for obvious reasons. Just before this is a bit of a saddle. If you find yourself hiking there in June you catch the sweet scent of Fringe Tree (AKA Old Man's Beard). There is a thicket of them to your left as you head south.

If you did not take the side hike above turn left/north and follow the orange/blue blazed trail along the ridge for 2.3 miles, traversing High Peak, before passing one of the only campsites and arriving at a four way intersection where the blue/orange trail now turns left downhill.

Either turn left downhill on the blue/orange blazed trail or take the yellow blazed Shawl Gap Trail (opposite the camping area you passed 15 yards back) that is more direct, however this trail is no longer maintained and has many blow downs. Either trail brings you back to the picnic area. Continue straight through the picnic area, arriving back at the car park.

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Hiker Reviews For The High Peak Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Diego S Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 02, 2016
As others have said, there is no real view as is suggested if you head south when you get to the top of the ridge. Don't even bother with it.

This hike didn't have much to offer once we got away from the Elizabeth Furnace recreation area and Little Passage Creek. The last half mile or so on the Sherman Gap (pink) Trail was easily the most strenuous park of the hike. Once upon the ridge line, views of the valley to the east are obscured by the forest. For the last portion back down the mountain, we started out on the blue/orange trail. The Shawl Gap (yellow) trail was not visible, or maybe I didn't look hard enough. At the first crossing of the yellow and blue/orange trails, we switched to the yellow trail. It is no longer maintained and I didn't see any yellow blazes, but it is a clear trail, and a straight shot downhill. We ran into a few blowdowns which were not difficult to get over. Taking this trail instead of the blue/orange definitely saves time.

I would rate the views as a 2 for this time of year. While there are only two campsites (I think) on the trail, there is abundant camping on Fort Valley Road (SR 678).

Our hike was about 7.85 miles if you start the count right from the parking lot.


By: Windy Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 03, 2015
Rocky path and a long climb up, this is a quite unexpectedly strenuous hike to me.

I attempted to do the side hike but even after having walked more than additional 0.5 miles (one way) I could not find what described in website as 'a small rock ledge on a sharp point that juts out into the valley with some stunted pine trees' so I turned around and continued to the main path.

Also, at the last part of the hike there are two options, turn right to the orange/blue trail which is more maintained but not straight forward, and the yellow trail which is less maintained but more straightforward. I took the orange/blue trail only to find myself regret my choice.. the route was indeed clear but it was a long switch backs. I was already tired and wanted to get back to the parking area so bad, it was frustrating to see the track in my gps that I was almost getting into the starting point direction but then turned away to other directions again and again, basically zigzag-ing down the hill. Luckily, at one point I saw on path 'cutting' the zigzag and instinctively I turned left and follow that path. This path took me to the parking area quickly - so I guess that was the yellow path (no yellow markings though). This path was not bad at all in terms of maintenance, I should have taken it the first time to save energy and time.

I finished the whole trail in 4 hours and 47 minutes, plus some additional breaks in between the climb up. Not so much view, and only met one couple on my way down. There were only 3 cars at the main parking area when I got back.


By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 12, 2014
It was a rainy, cool day but turned out to be nice for hiking. I really look for solitude and views most of all when choosing a hike, and this one delivered on the solitude and somewhat on the views. During the winter the views would be beautiful, and now that the leaves are dropping there are definitely more opportunities for views than in summer.

Finding the trail head was easy, as there's very clear white blazes on the trees next to the bulletin board. If you're facing the bathrooms, go to your right to the end of the parking lot.

The fog rolled in as I reached the ridge, so I didn't see much, but the mist mixed with the colors on the trees was gorgeous. Most of the trails are covered in leaves now and as mentioned, it's rocky, so it was slippery in spots.

The climb up the pink/Sherman Gap trail was a a great workout… it would be a good workout clockwise, too! I ran into two people fishing at the beginning along the water and two trail runners on the ridge. I can see this being a crowded trail on a sunny fall day, though. I did the Veach Gap hike last weekend, so it was neat to see the sign at the intersection of Sherman Gap and Tuscarora/Massanutten trails pointing in that direction. I did not take the side hike.

The yellow blazed trail is right across from the campsite and very obvious, taking you straight down the mountain. Though the blazes are visible but very faded, the trail itself is obviously very used, wide, and easy to stay on. If I had time, I would've take the longer blue/orange trail, but it intersects with the yellow trail three times, so the choice is yours all the way down, actually! Once you reach the flatter part of the yellow trail, there's a few trees down across the trail, but easy to get over. Then, there are a couple of trails with historical signs along them, as this area once was used for the production of pig iron. Stop to read the signs on the way back. Any of these trails will take you back to the parking lot.


By: FuzzyLabRat Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 12, 2014
My primary disappointment with this hike was the lack of views and somewhat inaccurate distance measurement. After reaching the Massanutten/Sherman trail intersection, I ventured southward to locate the side hike mentioned here. The trails crisscross several times here (Massanutten, Tuscarora, and Sherman trails). Looking at my topo, I stayed on the orange-blazed Massanutten trail for approx .45 miles, but never came to a clear 'point'. Also, the trail in this section appeared to be rarely used, had several loose rock slides, and was generally overgrown and narrow. Oh well, nothing risked, nothing gained I suppose... After backtracking, I continued northward on the Orange/Blue blazed trails as described. Regrettably, I never came to any areas with enough clearing to get a view to the east or west. 3 miles on the ridge with barely a peek of what lay in the valley was disappointing. I prefer not to bushwack, so that may have contributed. Lastly, the final decent back to the start of the hike is pretty steep. The yellow trail was easily located and, most definitely, was abandoned as written. Several tree blow-downs and a lot of wash-out. What I didn't realize is the blue-blazed trail recommended as the indirect route added over 2 miles to this hike! Thankfully it crosses over the yellow trail several times, and I abandoned it for the more direct route on the yellow. My detour south, decent down just part of the blue trail, and 1.5 mile in/out hike to the camp area turned this into a 10+ mile hike, so plan accordingly. I underestimated it for sure. I may attempt this again in the Fall/Winter when the foilage has dropped -- I could tell there was some great views to be seen, but just blocked by the summer tree-cover. Wouldn't recommend in August for sure.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 28, 2013
Elizabeth Furnace being among the favorite places my wife and I like to visit, I decided that it was time for me to check out the hiking in the area.  Having found High Peak on HikingUpward, I picked a Saturday, loaded my pack and headed for Elizabeth Furnace after dropping my wife at work.  I arrived at approximately 7:30 and found my first challenge was finding the Forestry Service bulletin board as it was behind some trees as I approached through the parking area.  Silly me, I assumed it would be out in the open and easy to see.  Following the white blazed trail (I was later told that it was the Botts trail) for about 3/4 mile I came to the intersection with the pink blazed Sherman Gap trail and turned left.  Here the hike begins in earnest as you make your way SSW along the mountain side through the rocky path for a little over two miles.  With some wet weather not long ago, I found that myself making about 7 stream crossings, only one of which did not present some well placed rocks for crossing.  The last 3 or 4 tenths mile of the pink blazed trail takes you up the hillside and to the ridge.  Here it's very steep and rocky.  You should keep a good eye out for the pink blazes as you ascend since the trail is not really obvious at times (good advice for the rest of the trail as well).  At the top, you'll find the blue/orange blazed Tuscarora/Massanutten as it intersects with the Sherman Gap trail.  I choose not to take the hike out to the point as suggested in another review but turned left and followed the ridge north for the 2.3 miles to the four way intersection.  Though there were some nice views to be seen along the way they weren't very camera friendly so I didn't bother with any photos on this trip.  I did enjoy looking at all the rock formations along the way found a quiet spot for lunch.  I was probably out for 4 hours or more before seeing anyone else on the trail so i thought that this hike offered a good deal of solitude.  It was quite a workout, even on the decent, as the trail could be narrow and rocky much of the time.  I chose to continue down the blue/orange blazed trail back to the picnic area, making my last stream crossing over a foot bridge and past the ruins of Elizabeth Furnace.  Having stopped for nearly an hour for lunch and taking my time climbing up the steeper portions of the trail, I finished up around 2:30 in the afternoon making this a 7 hour hike.  I highly recommend this hike for anyone seeking a bit of a challenge.  It doesn't offer much in the way of views unless you choose to make a side trip or two, but if you stop on the way up Sherman Gap trail and look behind you to the west you will catch glimpses of the valley below.   All in all, a hike that would merit 5 stars if the views were better, but I loved the workout so I feel good about a 4 star. 

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