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)
This was a really great hike but tough! A lot of it is rocky so its tough on your feet...wear good shoes! We did the hike counter-clockwise, started around 10:30am, finished 5:00pm. Passed a few great campsites between the parking lot and the transmission tower. On the descent on the blue trail (somewhere between the service road and the end of the hike) we came across a bear. We didn't notice him until we were about 30-40 yards away, but he was minding his own. Eventually he started to wander off, but we then back tracked 20-30 minutes or so since we knew other hikers were behind us and we could join them temporarily so we could proceed past where we saw the bear. We then turned around again and continued the hike and didn't see the bear again. Recommendaton: keep going on the blue trail and eventually you'll find the orange trail again which will take you back to the parking lot. We thought we had missed the intersection of the blue with the orange for the final leg of the hike, but we were just tired from the bear encounter and wanted to just call it a day! I really recommend this hike, but it is medium-hard difficulty with lots of rocks, not many streams, great views, and only came across a few other hikers and a boy scout group.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 30, 2013
My 4th time doing this circuit, but the last time was 20 years ago. I was planning to go to Shenandoah NP but heard about all the snow still there above 2000 ft. So Signal Knob was a great plan b and at 2300 ft or so there was just a little snow on the north facing part of the ridge. Views were really great without leaves on the trees, surprisingly along the Maneka Peak trail where you could see the blue ridge mountains way out to the east. Yes, I took the shortcut rather than adding the second ascent. I really like the first 3 miles or so of this hike. Its really rocky and just so different and one of my favorite trails. Definately better in the winter/early spring with the continuous views. None of it is real steep, but its still quite a workout from walking on rocks all day You'll feel it more in your feet and ankles than your thighs! I took 6 hours but spent a good 45 minutes at Signal Knob eating lunch.
Hurry and do it before the leaves get here.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Personally, I liked this hike very much. It's fairly short, the trails were clearly marked and maintained well, the views were decent all along the ridgelines, fellow hikers courteous (and there were a lot of them), etc... Parking was sparse, but I think there was an organized event taking place on the weekend we went. We had the luxury of utilizing one of the tent sites up on the ridge which (depending on which one you get, it would seriously impact the rating here). Luckily, it was mid March with some wintery weather in the forecast so we had our option of any/all of them. Some of the designated camp spots are literally right on the trail. I never understand this as it makes fellow hikers feel like they are invading someone's privacy by walking through someone's camp and the overnighters, many of whom are there to get away from civilization for the weekend, may not want all the visitors. Finally, like others have mentioned, there are some loose rock scrambles on the upper portions of this trail. Stiff soles and ankle support would be wise. In closing, despite the critique concerning the camping, the hike IMHO was fantastic! I will certainly be back and do this one again. I really enjoyed it and recommend it, even for the beginners or less athletic hikers.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 18, 2012
I left Arlington at 6 this morning, and was on the trail at 7:40. Started out the hike in the lower 30s, up at the knob it was substantially colder. Saw two campsites, 3 mountain bikers, and 3 on horses.
Good hike, very rocky but great views this time of year. Leaves make the rocks a bit slick, but manageable. At the summit we chilled for 30 minutes and made coffees, still finished by 1230.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 29, 2012
This is my favorite hike in the Shenandoah Valley - period. I've done it countless times. It's a great workout with a 270 degree panoramic view at the top of the valley and river below. Like many have said, this trail is extremely rocky so you need to wear shoes with good ankle support. The only time I did this hike in tennis shoes, I sprained my ankle on the way down. Lesson learned the hard way. In the winter time, I like to do this hike at night. If you get started at around 7 PM, you can make it up and back before midnight and spend a good hour at the top. It's well worth the effort.