At 12.7 miles the Mudhole Gap loop isn't
as difficult as a lot of shorter hikes. After you compete
the first 3.8 miles to the ridge line near Meneka Peak the
remaining 3/4 of the hike is either downhill or mostly flat,
with the exception of a gradual ascent on the back loop. Little
Passage Creek that runs through Mudhole gap is beautiful in
the spring when the water is running with snow melt. One thing
in mind is the area is very popular with mountain bikers,
so make sure to keep an ear out for them as they come up from
Start by crossing the road taking the blue blazed Tuscarora
Trail uphill for .2 miles to the first
left .9 miles continuing on the blue blazed trail as
it winds around small ridges and crosses two small streams
white blazed connector trail that comes in from your left.
Continue uphill on the blue blazed trail as
it traverses the mountain and passes the pink blazed Sidewinder
Trail in another 1.2 miles on the left. Continue
straight on the blue blazed trail as it enters the
Bear Wallow area and and traverses the mountain until it reaches
the ridge line and the junction
of the Meneka Peak Trail in another 1.5
miles from the white blazed trail.
Continue straight downhill on the blue blazed trail
as it descends for another .9 miles where it crosses Little
and intersects an access
road that leads up to the Transmitting
tower on Signal Knob.
Turn left following the orange blazed forestry service road
that is part of the Massanutten Trail and in .5 miles the orange
blazed trail will turn right, stay straight, a little
you will pass
the reservoir. 2.2 miles further on the access
road you will come to a gate with
area. Continue straight
100 yards passing a small road and two cabins on your right.
off the access road onto the purple blazed Mudhole
Gap Trail. This will immediately cross Little Passage Creek
as it heads down through the gap. Cross Little
Passage Creek three more times before
the trail turns left uphill in
Stay on the purple blazed Mudhole Gap Trail as it
widens into an old access road and traverses and descends the
mountain for another 3.1 miles passing the pink connector trail
blazed connector trail will come in from your left.
Turn left uphill on the white blazed trail for .1 miles to
meet the orange/blue blazed trail you ascends earlier. Turn
the mountain and re-crossing the two small streams before meeting
the Tuscarora intersection in .9 miles. Turn right
descending the remaining .2 miles back to the parking lot.
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Reviews For The Mudhole Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
This was overall a nice hike. I had my dog with me and she enjoyed how much water was available. There were lots of wild flowers, and many more to come at the higher elevations that will be blooming in the next week or two. There was a little too much hiking on service roads for my liking, which is why it got 3 instead of 4 stars. It's a nice hike up to the peak. The reservoir was really pretty, but the service road after it got boring after awhile. The streams were very full, and I had to take my boots off at a couple crossing on the mudhole gap/purple trail. It seems like it would be a very hot hike in the summer. I would like to do it again in the late fall/winter/early spring when the leaves are off the trees. I think you'd have some really good views then. It wasn't a very hard hike technically, but 12.7 miles is enough to wear most people out. I would go on the hike again, but it wouldn't be my first choice.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 01, 2010
I was torn between a rating of 3 and 4 for this hike but decided to be generous.
I parked at the bear wallow parking area to cut off some of the hike. I have been on the section of the tuscarora trail from bear wallow to the signal know parking area and didn't think it was worth repeating for this hike.
I really enjoyed the walk along little passage creek and by the strasburg reservoir for all of the wildflowers. This section is a road but it is grown in quite nicely and well shaded.
Little passage creek through mudhole gap itself was another highlight.
The mudhole gap trail after the gap itself was dismal. That road is larger and not well grown in. I hardly saw any wildflowers at all along that route. I had wanted to stop for lunch but there was no pleasant place to do so. (I ended up eating a late lunch at Elizabeth furnace.) The lone highlight of this section was passing under a large purple flowering tree that filled the air with a lovely aroma. (Perhaps someone can enlighten me as the the species of that tree - 2 inch bell shaped purple flowers, large tree (reached the canopy))
Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Pros: 1) Proximity to DC. When I hike, I prefer at least a 1.5:1 boots to wheels ratio (or time spent on the trail vs. time spent in my car). This hike, being only an hour and 15 minutes from Arlington, provided nearly a 2:1 ratio for me (even more trail time for most folks) 2) Little Passage creek and the reservoir -- I love my lab and he loves water. 3) Only encountered two mountain bikers. This probably was because I went on a cool, overcast Wednesday in March. (I wouldn't recommend this hike on a warm weekend, given its proximity to DC and Front Royal.) 4) If you're somewhat out of shape, this is a good hike to shake the rust off your legs and clear the static from between your ears. After not having hiked all winter, this was long enough without having any particularly steep ascents or descents.
Cons: 1) Seemingly at least half of the loop is on wide, relatively flat forest service trail/road. Good for bikers, but somewhat boring for hikers. (You might want to consider the suggestion of one of the earlier reviewers to stay on the blue trail rather than taking the left onto the orange trail.) 2) No challenges. While this hike is well suited to rusty or inexperienced hikers (though not too out of shape, since it is 12.7 miles long), I wouldn't recommend this for someone seeking challenging climbs.
Editorial Note: The trail description near the end says something like "after 3.1 miles (on the purple trail) you'll pass the pink trail then a white blazed trail will come in from your left." That "then" elides about half a mile. Have faith in those white blazes, you'll see them, just not as soon as you might have thought reading that sentence. Don't do what I did and double back to take a detour on the clearly pink blazed cut through trail that appears about 50 feet after the initial pink intersection. (Or you could intentionally take the pink trail all the way back to the blue, adding an extra mile and a half or so to your trek.) There's also a short unblazed trail leading to a campfire site about half way between the pink and white trails.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 29, 2008
Beautiful late autumn day, starting out at 31 degrees at around 9 AM, and ending in the mid fifties by 2 pm. Lots of sun. Lots of hunters and quite a few mountain bikers on the trail. This is a long walk, but most pleasant. The trails are all well kept and clearly marked. It has a little or a lot of everyting. It begins with a pretty steep ascent, a brief walk along the ridge line, and then a sharp descent to a long walk on a forest service road. Turning off on Mudhole Gap Trail is a great way to end it, with lots and lots of creek crossings, and a final mild ascent returning to the trail head. Leaves were none to sparse, but this allowed for some great vistas along the route. The reservoir you pass before reaching Mudhole Trail is quite an eyefull. I did this in 5 hours, but it's probably better suited to a more leisurely pace, maybe with a lunch break in the middle. By the end of the trail, I was fixated on getting to the new Mexican Restaurant in Strasburg ASAP. BTW, Strasburg could be a DC or Baltimore hiker's HQ for a week full of hiking on this trail, Signal Knob and its off-shoots, and the gaggle of trails around Shawl Gap.
M. R. Hyker
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 04, 2005
I reviewed this outing a couple of months ago. I stated that I hiked it with a friend in June, 1998. It was actually July, 2000. That was a very bad drought year. Little Passage Creek was a mere gutter. The old woods roads were open to the sun and hotter than heck. This last time was different and I have to change the rating. Little Passage Creek was full and gurgleling with life. Large sections of the woods roads were still quite sunny but other sections have grown in more in the past 5 years. While the woods road sections might still be considered mundane, the footpaths along Little Passage Creek and on Bear Wallow Tr were quite pleasing. As in 2000 we started at the campground and hiked the loop clockwise instead of as derscribed here. The highlight for me was all of the wildflowers. I saw over 20 different species. Here are a few: Whorled Loosestrife, Yellow Salsify, Yellow Star Grass, Blue-eyed Star Grass, Fringe Tree (AKA Old Man's Beard), Littleflower Phacea, Violet and Yellow Wood Sorrel, Beardtongue, False Solomon's Seal, Pink Lady Slippers, Lyre Leaf Sage and Mountain Laurel all over the place. Aslo had a nice lunch beside Strasburg Reservoir where we startled a large water snake. I finally got to hike up the back of Bear Wallow Tr. Been putting it off for years. That is one of the most challenging pieces of trail I've ever hiked. Fortunately it was brief. The rest of the hike was a proverbial romp!