Some of the best vistas in the mid-Atlantic. The Strickler Knob Trail is a challenging rock hopping/scramble with beautiful views of New Market Gap, the Luray Valley, and a 360 degree picture perfect panorama from the Strickler Knob summit. This is a challenging hike with a great little rock scramble on the ridge. Camp at any of the ridge campsites and enjoy great sunsets and sunrises over the Shenandoah Valley, however be sure to carry up water as there are no springs along the ridge.
The Strickler Knob Trail is not a maintained or an official trail, and is considered a bushwack. This hike is not suitable for young children or dogs.
You can shorten the hike to 5.2 miles and avoid the tough climb at the end by starting the hike from the Scothorn Gap trailhead on Crisman Hollow Rd/274.
Mile 0.0 - From the Massanutten trailhead on Crimson Hollow Rd/VA211 start east towards Waterfall Mountain on the orange blazed Massanutten trail, immediately passing a campsite on the left. In 0.3 miles there is a vista of the Luray Valley. Continue for 0.3 miles at which point the trail turns steeply downhill.
Mile 0.6 - Make several switchbacks, then the trail becomes less steep before reaching the intersection of the white blazed Massanutten Connector trail in 0.5 miles from the ridge.
Mile 1.1 - Turn left on the orange blazed Massanutten trail as it begins to climb alongside Big Run, passing a campsite in 0.1 miles. Cross the run where the trail becomes steeper, then re-cross the run, make one large switchback, then level out and arrive at the intersection of the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap trail 1.9 miles from the last intersection.
Mile 3.6 - Now the fun starts. Firstly, thank you to the trail builders! This used to be a formidable bushwhack. The Strickler Knob trail is marked with pink blazes on the rocks, but may not be there as they have previously been removed by the Forestry Service. The trail will also appear to end in several places, but keep heading along the ridge and you'll pick the trail back up. After 0.3 miles pass a rock outcrop and view to the west and north. From this vista, continue on the trail rock hopping for another 0.4 miles to another opening, and beautiful vista to the southwest. From this point the rock hopping and bouldering becomes more intense. The first obstacle is a 12ft climb over a small rock wall, then just before the the main summit pass through a group of three boulders. This is not the summit stack! Once through the crack continue to follow the blazes, pass a small overhang, and climb a 6ft ledge.
Mile 4.3 - The main summit is accessed through a rock crack on the left. Continue for another 30ft to the southern summit overlook. Climbing to the main summit provides a 360 degree view of the Luray Valley and New Market Gap.
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Reviews For The Strickler Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
I don't want to sound like a parrot, but this hike as described is particularly brutal. If you don't want brutal, don't hike this as described. I hike every weekend and like to think I'm in pretty good trail shape and let's just say that it is Tuesday and my quads still hurt from Sunday. I can't think of another hike in the east where I have had to take a "quad break" going downhill but there you have it. Our hike was just shy of 12 miles on the day in 6 hours (it is slow going on the rocky ridge), with 30 minutes to eat up on top of the knob. Despite the brutality, I give it 5 stars anyway. The views are so worth the agony.
Things to be aware of:
1) It is February and the gate is closed until some time in April. The gate is located at the trailhead for the Massanutten Story Book Trail and is 7-tenths of a mile south from where the Massanutten Trail crosses Crisman Hollow Road. We walked the extra mile and a half on the day.
2) If you go in and out via Scothorn Gap, this will be a much easier hike, somewhere around a 3, maybe 3.5 with the rock scramble.
3) A lot of people (and it was flat-out crowded on Sunday: there were about 50 cars parked when we returned late afternoon to the parking lot) are coming in off of a fire road that intersects US 211 on the Luray side of the gap. I have seen it on the map but haven't investigated it: it follows Big Run up to the Massanutten Trail. All those people had much, much fresher legs than did we after coming down the big hill. You could also come in from Camp Roosevelt in the north though it is a longish walk.
4) The pink blazes on the rocks and the red markers on the trees are there, but you have to be looking for them. The pink blazes are on the ground. The red markers are higher than you might expect. I came to a lot of places where it was 50-50 on which way the trail went, but on a narrow ridge, it doesn't really matter. You're going to pick up the "official" path again at some point.
5) I would venture to say that anyone who has the gumption to hike up to the Knob will have little difficulty in climbing up and through the rocks at the end. The scramble is nothing to really worry about. It is fun and the views are such a fantastic reward, though doubtless you will be sharing them with a bunch of other people.
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 15, 2017
First hike I've done with a 5-star difficulty rating on HikingUpward, and it is definitely warranted. The ascent at the end of the hike is B-r-u-t-a-l (and yes, the capital B is intentional). Aside from that, the rock scrambling and climbing in the last mile up to the summit was quite fun (it's not Old Rag, but still fun nonetheless). I agree that it is very easy to walk right by the start of the pink blazed Strickler Knob trail (I did), but once on it, the markings are easy to follow (and the pink blazes on the rocks are supplemented with red markers nailed to trees). It was a foggy morning, and unfortunately, the fog did not burn off by the time I reached the summit at 11 am so I did not experience the full majesty of the views. It burned off a bit by noon when I left, and the groups of hikers behind me probably got some better views. If you do the hike as described and park at the Massanutten trailhead on Crisman Hollow Road, do not park at the Story Book trailhead - keep going another 0.5 mile on Crisman Hollow past there. Parking is definitely limited (maybe 5-6 cars max).
Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Please check out our review of this hike on our blog -- http://wp.me/p8ebJj-3g
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Great hike! I arrived early, so parking wasn't an issue. Did not bump into a single person until my return.
A couple of things to point out:
At the top of the ridge, I walked right by the Strickler Knob trail. If you start going down, you went too far. It is well marked with both some (hot) pink paint and a small cairn, but hard to notice if you are daydreaming.
About halfway into the final stretch, the Strickler Knob trail turns right 90 deg. If you see the blue trail beginning, that is the turn.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 12, 2016
What a workout. This hike was spectacular and we didn't even make it the entire way...
Parking around here can be a little limited, so do keep that in mind if you're planning on coming on a nice day on the weekend.
We started at the Massanutten Trail head and followed the directions on this website. There's a really beautiful outlook not too far in. After that the trail is pretty flat until you hit THE DESCENT. I capitalize this because I am trying to emphasize the difficulty of this portion of the hike... it mentions above that it is steep but I am not sure that conveys the drama. And the corresponding ascent on the way back. Consider yourself warned - this portion of the hike was not easy but it was a fantastic workout (I also was prepping for my upcoming trip and was wearing a 20 lb pack while doing it. This obviously may have altered my experience, but my friend who wasn't wearing weight was also getting a good workout here).
I also wanted to mention that after the first cross of Big Run you will ascend a little and hit a crossroad in the trail. The directions aren't super clear but be sure to stick to the left here. There should be some yellow ribbons tied to the trees. Follow those!
We started late and didn't get a chance to make it out to the summit but I will be doing this hike again soon!