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)
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!
Date of Hike: Friday, November 11, 2016
I haven't done a lot of hiking in VA, but this is my favorite so far. It offers really spectacular views into the towns surrounding Luray, a comfortable 5-6 mile distance (from Scothorn Gap), lots of rock hopping, some fun rock scrambles, and great rock formations on which to climb once you get out to the knob itself. (Be careful though there was a technical rescue required for a hiker who fell the day after our hike.)
My companion and I chose to start at the Scothorn Gap Trailhead. Starting here instead of the Massanutten Trailhead makes the hike a few miles shorter, and I tend to prefer hikes in the 5-7 mile range rather than 9+ miles. (Note that the HikingUpward map is oriented toward those doing the 9+ mile route from Massanutten Trailhead, but you can shorten it by 3 miles or so if you start from Scothorn Gap like we did. Zoom in on the Interactive Map at the bottom of the page, and you'll see the Scothorn Gap Trailhead a little north of the Massanutten Trailhead on Crisman Hollow Road.)
To reach the trailhead, follow your navigation device directions to Crisman Hollow Road. Assuming you're coming onto Crisman Hollow from 211/Lee Highway, you'll pass by the Storybook Trail and the Massanutten Trailhead, and then you'll see the Scothorn Gap Trailhead about a mile or so later. Park, and you're off!
We had two wayfinding questions once we got on the trail, and here are the answers to those:
1) There's a sign about one mile (?) into the Scothorn Gap trail where it intersects with the Massanutten Trail. I forget the labels on the sign, but they don't provide obvious guidance for those on their way to Strickler Knob: you can go right, left, or straight. Go Straight! You want to go uphill, toward the orange (I think) blazes. We didn't mess this up, and you probably won't either, but it caused some doubt when we missed the pink blazes later on. (If you're coming from Massanutten Trail, you'll make a right turn up the hill.)
2) The Strickler Knob trail is blazed with PINK. You need to follow the pink blazes when you get the chance, so keep your eyes to the right of the trail sometime after you pass the sign mentioned in my prior bullet (#1), since it's really easy to miss them (which we did!). As a visual cue, you'll see what looks like a little field of rocks on your right, and that's the Strickler Knob trail itself. The blazes are on the rocks on the ground, which makes them easy to miss. Just past the turn off for the trail, there's a clearing from which you can get a view to the east. If you get to that clearing without having seen a pink blaze, you probably missed your turn.
It's easy to lose the trail for brief moments as you're on your way out to the knob, so you need to be a somewhat diligent about watching for pink blazes.
Once you get out to the knob, the views are really pretty. You'll see quaint towns in the valley to the east, and mountainous terrain to the west. Take it all in while enjoying a snack and the beverage of your choosing :)