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Signal Knob - Front Royal, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

5.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,680 ft with two different ascents
George Washington National Forest
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Signal Knob parking area on 678/Fort Valley Rd. 38.93503, -78.31956

The Signal Knob hike in the George Washington National Forest has spectacular views of Strausburg VA. in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as Buzzard Rock in Fort Valley to the east. Signal Knob, at 2,106ft, gets its name as both Confederate and Union troops used it as a lookout during the Civil War. The Confederate Signal Corps controlled the outlook from 1862 until August 14, 1864, when Union troops defeated the 61st Georgia Volunteer Infantry and took control of the peak.

  • Mile 0.0 - Start the hike from the right side of the Signal Knob parking area. The trail is blazed orange which designates it as part of the Massanutten Trail. Start uphill on the orange blazed trail then shortly pass an old stone house on your left, cross a small stream, then follow the trail around the eastern section of the mountain.
  • Mile 1.5 - Arrive at the Buzzard Rock Overlook. The trail will take a hairpin turn back to the south and becomes significantly more rocky. In 0.9 miles from the Buzzard rock overlook the trail turns back to the north passing another nice vista of Fort Valley. Continue to follow the orange blazed trail as it becomes less steep, then passes several nice camp spots just before arriving at the intersection of the Meneka Peak Trail.
  • Mile 3.4 - Pass the Meneka Peak Trail on the left, continuing on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail as it winds around the ridge to your right and passes a transmission tower in another 0.8 miles.
  • Mile 4.3 - Arrive at the Signal Knob lookout area. The lookout has some nice views north of the Shenandoah Valley and Strausburg VA. The Massanutten Trail continues as a orange blazed gravel road now descending the mountain to the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail the crosses the road.
  • Mile 5.5 - Turn left on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail crossing Little Passage Creek, then ascend Green Mountain/Meneka Peak where you arrive at the ridge line, and white blazed Meneka Peak Trail.
  • Mile 6.3 - Cross over the ridge and proceed downhill remaining on the blue blazed trail as it winds back and forth through the Bear Wallow area.
  • Mile 7.1 - Pass the pink blazed Sidewinder Trail on your right.
  • Mile 8.2 - Pass a white blazed connector trail for Elizabeth Furnace. Continue straight on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail as it winds around the mountain then arrives at a flatter area close to the valley, and an intersection where the blue blazed trail turns right downhill towards Fort Valley Rd./VA678
  • Mile 9.3 - Continue straight on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail (this section was formerly the the Tuscarora Spur Trail and was reblazed in 2002) as it descends slightly, then parallels Fort Valley Rd./VA678.
  • Mile 9.9 - Arrive back on the left side of the Signal Knob parking area.
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Hiker Reviews For The Signal Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Signal Knob hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: CStepp80 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 03, 2016
Arrived at the parking lot just before 1:30pm Sunday, April 3. The forecast was calling for wind, so I planned the trip in hope to dodge the wind as it died down late in the afternoon.

My route was the Orange Blazed Massanutten Trail up to Buzzard Rocks, and onward to Signal Knob, back to the Meneka Peak Trail, and finally taking the Tuscarora Trail to the parking lot. My GPS measured 11.05 miles this route and it took me 5.5 hours (including breaks) with a total elevation gain of 2,035ft. Word of caution, it is extremely rocky this way – I highly recommend boots. It is a solid 1 mile of navigating rocks from just before Buzzard Rocks all the way to the Shenandoah Valley Overlook, as if you’re walking on an old creek bed. Second word of caution – beware of snakes sunbathing on the rocks, especially in the afternoon on these sunny spring days. I saw quite a few on my hike. I hiked Old Rag last week and I thought this trail was much more difficult, mainly because my feet were done in from the rocks on the way up- I did not expect it to be that rocky. The views from Signal Knob were very nice and clear and I met a few trailblazers at the top working the trails. I only passed 10 people the entire length of the trail and had the overlook to myself for 30 minutes, so you will definitely not hit many crowds on this trail. I would recommend taking the reverse way to avoid the rocks - Massanutten South, to Tuscarora, to Meneka Peak, to Signal Knob, and back- it will end up being about a 12 mile round trip hike that way, same elevation gain, although more gradual.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 13, 2016
Leaves were still down so we got some decent views before the rains came down on us. Socked in from then on . Lots of excellent camping spots up top (bring water.) Beautiful down in the bottom area. You can take the cutoff trail if you want to avoid climbing back up Meneka Peak. It is a well maintained trail but rocky. Enjoy.

By: GGinDC Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 08, 2015
Started about 7am. Very quiet, I only saw about 8 other people the whole hike. The way up was good, a lot of fallen leaves making some of the rocks more slippery then they normally would be. Good views and saw a few deer. On the way down from the knob, the road was a little wet, but nothing too bad. The last up and down was fine, but leaves made staying on the trail a little difficult. I had a good time on this hike, but would probably stay away in the future because my ankles didn't do too well with so many small rocks. Luckily I had my trekking poles, but another guy fell and twisted his ankle on a rock. Overall nice.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 13, 2015
I actually really liked this hike, there was something about the trails that was very peaceful and enjoyable (although I would definitely recommend backtracking along the Massanutten trail to Meneka Peak and hiking along that's much more scenic).  We hardly saw anyone the whole day, and the weather was perfect, nice and cool.  Being from the Northeast, I actually liked the rocky trail.  It makes it interesting (when I hike, this trail is what I expect to encounter!).  The viewpoint at Signal Knob was cool, but a bit disappointing that you could hear the traffic below.

Overall, I would do this one again, but only when the leaves are down so I could get some better views up on Meneka Peak.

By: John D Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 06, 2015
Waste of a hike. It was nearly all rocks, and the views were completely forgettable. Also, my GPS had nearly 11 miles, not 9.9.

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