The Signal Knob hike, in the George Washington National Forest,
boasts some of the best vistas we have seen in Northern Virginia.
Situated 8 miles west of Front Royal, it takes approximately
1.5 hrs to get there from the metro Washington area.
hike starts from the right hand side of the Signal
Knob parking area and is marked by both yellow (Signal
Knob Trail) and Orange (Massanutten Trail) blazes.
on the yellow/orange blazed trail as it shortly passes a old
stone house on your left and curves to the right around the
mountain for 1.5 miles until arriving at Buzzard
The trail will take a hairpin turn back to the south then
in 0.7 miles turns back to the north again following a ridge
and passing a couple of great camp sites before meeting the
intersection of the white blazed Meneka Peak trail that enters
from the left 1.1 miles further.
Continue straight as the trail winds around the ridge to your
right and passes the transmission tower in 0.7 miles before
arriving at the Signal Knob lookout area. Continuing take the
orange blazed service road down the mountain for 1.2 miles
where the blue blazed Tuscarora trail crosses the road.
Turn left on the blue blazed trail crossing Little Passage
Creek as it ascends Green Mountain/Meneka Peak until reaching
the ridge line and white blazed Meneka Peak Trail in 0.7 miles.
Continue straight now downhill on
the blue blazed trail as it winds back and forth through the
Bear Wallow area and passing the pink blazed Sidewinder Trail
on your right in 1.7 miles.
Continue straight on the blue blazed trail as it winds downhill
passing a white blazed connector trail for Elizabeth Furnace
just before you cross a creek 1.0 miles from the pink blazed
Continue straight on the blue blazed trail as it winds around
the mountain before reaching a flatter area close to the valley
and an intersection in 0.9 miles where the blue blazed trail
now turns right downhill.
Again continue straight on the now orange blazed Massanutten
Trail (this section was formerly the the Tuscarora Spur Trail
and was reblazed in 2002) for only another 0.5 miles as it
descends slightly then parallels VA678 before arriving back
on the right side of the Signal Knob parking area.
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Reviews For The Signal Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
I hiked the loop counter-clockwise. I wasn't in top shape so it was very tough. The first half of the hike was challenging but comfortable. I camped by the reservoir, which was apparently a very popular camping spot. I had a tiny campsite by the water. Very pretty, and I highly recommend checking it out. The next morning, I hiked up the F/S road to the peak. The peak was gorgeous. The views on this hike really are amazing. The rest of the hike was b r u t a l. I swear there was no point where I wasn't either going up hill, rock hopping, or both. By the end of the hike I could barely walk!
Overall, great hike. Super challenging but very rewarding. It was very crowded, but keep in mind that this is a trail that is easily accessible from the metro area and this was a beautiful Saturday in mid fall. Doesn't get much sweeter than that!
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 16, 2013
No way is this a four in difficulty. This was our first time on this hike. We are experienced and in pretty good shape, ages 47 and 58. We went counter-clockwise (going up the orange-blazed trail). It was a very gradual ascent. The only challenge was dry slippery leaves and tricky footing on the rocks - and there are LOTS of rocks. Coming back down on the blue-blazed trail was much less rocky and it is a gradual descent on switchbacks. Actually kind of boring. It is pretty enough, even at this time of year, and there are some good views from the ridges, but overall, I'd say it was maybe a three and then only because of the tricky footing and the distance.
Date of Hike: Monday, November 11, 2013
This is an amazing hike to take in the autumn, perhaps the best time is mid-october to mid-november.
Leafs have fallen enough on the higher parts of the trail so you could see far, far away throughout the entire trail, and trees are still covered down below so there is something colorful all the way to the bottom. One of the best autumn hikes in the area.
Date of Hike: Friday, October 18, 2013
This was a nice hike with a few disappointments. We hiked this on a Friday, and we only saw one other person, so it was quite nice as far as solitude. There are a number of good views that overlook the surrounding ridges as you ascend the Signal Knob trail. One of them has a cool old tree with a trunk split into 3 in such a way as to form a perfect seat. At Signal Knob itself, the view is of Strasburg personally I much preferred the views of nature on the ascent. The hike down from Signal Knob is on an access road, so it's not all that interesting. You don't see too much for the rest of the hike, though you will get a few more limited views as you cross the ridge on the Tuscarora trail. We were surprised by the number of sections of trail with fields of small to medium sized rocks. Crossing these is definitely a workout for your ankles, a pain for your feet, and keeps you looking down rather than at your surroundings. We were just doing a day hike, but there appeared to be a number of well-used campsites (where people had built fire rings) along the way. Some were practically on the trail while others were a bit more secluded.
We were hoping to see some good fall color but found that things were greener at the bottom and browner at the top without much color between. I think this was due to the windy and raining weather in the previous week. We were also hoping to see some wildlife, but we only saw turkey vultures and squirrels the whole time (not even deer). I can't explain that, and I don't know if it's typical. Overall, though, this hike has a lot of views and gives you a decent workout without being overly strenuous, so it's worth checking out.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 07, 2013
Did the clockwise hike and camped at the reservoir. Awesome weather and great views. First time having done this hike and packing for overnighter I would definitely recommend starting blue trail (clockwise) and doing day 2 on orange and seeing signal knob. Seen a black phase (i think) timber rattler coming up blue trail just before summit and intersection with white trail in the boulder field eating a frog. Many great places to camp. If coming regular route counter clockwise bring plenty of water as not much available until you decend from Signal Knob. Definitely not a stroll in the park but manageable. The reservoir is worth the extra .4 mile, especially in the warmer months.