Part of the Signal Knob area in the George Washington National Forest, Three Top Mountain with its 3.5 mile stretch along the ridge line is one of the least traveled trails in the area.
The blue blazed Tuscarora Trail has been cleared and re-blazed by a PATC volunteer group, and is in much better shape than pictured here. On the return down the orange blazed FS road, which is part of the Massanutten Trail, the hiking is almost a gentle walk.
To begin backtrack down the orange blazed FS road you just drove up passing the purple blazed Mudhole Gap Trail in 100 yards where it enters from the left, then in 0.4 miles the orange blazed Massanutten Trail will turn right off the FS road and begin its ascent up Three Top Mountain.
Follow the orange blazed trail as it ascends the mountain and in 0.5 miles reach the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail that enters from the right. The orange blazed Massanutten Trail and blue blazed Tuscarora Trail will join and continue straight.
Turn right on the blue blazed trail as it ascends slightly to reach the ridge. For the next 3.5 miles follow the blue blazed trail and ridge line before it begins to descend the mountain to the east/right side.
At this intersection turn right to follow the orange blazed FS road (you follow it the entire way back to the parking are) . In 0.5 miles the orange blazed trail will veer off the road to the right.
You can either follow the trail and pass the reservoir on its right or continue on the FS road and pass the reservoir to the left. Either way the FS road and orange blazed Massanutten Trail will rejoin on the other side of the reservoir in 0.3 miles.
Continue on the orange blazed FS road as it follows the valley before crossing Little Passage Creek in 0.2 miles and in another 1.2 miles arrives at a closed gate. 50 yards further the parking lot is on your left.
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Reviews For The Three Top Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
It was a good hike but it took use a lot longer than 4 hrs. Our small group hikes 200-250 miles a year with hike speed of 1.0-2.1 mph. On this trail we, our speed was only 1.3 The views were ok. The trail was in good condition, apparently the result of volunteers who went to a lot of trouble to clean it up and apply fresh blaze along the trail. Thanks to those who did the work! No snakes, though I expected we would see some with the temperatures in the low 80s. On a return visit I would definitely hike the trail in a counter-clockwise direction to get the road hike out of the way first. Road and pasture hiking is not on my list of great hikes. Saw one other hiker on the mountain part of the hike. On the road, we saw 12.
Date of Hike: Thursday, January 21, 2016
Second time on this hike and I liked it much better in the winter. Even though the leaves are all down, the views are not spectacular, so don't expect more than one or two decent vistas. The best part of this hike is the solitude. The FS road part is actually really nice, too, as it follows a stream and it's a peaceful walk. When you reach the reservoir, take the orange trail for a bit, then turn left going downhill to walk over the short connector trail by the reservoir back to the FS road (then go right). One easy stream crossing with rocks placed to assist you across. Nice hike, with many campsites around the reservoir and along the road out.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Hiked this one on a warm muggy day, so that took a little away from it. That being said, the 3.5 mile stretch along the ridge line, with rock outcroppings and a few scenic views made this hike fun. We hiked it counter-clockwise as we wanted to put all the 'road walking' at the front rather than at the end. The ridge part of the trail is well marked, but, as is typical with the Tuscarora Trail, not real well maintained. Expect high grass, stickers, and occasional trail blocking large trees to climb over. That being said, the trail along the ridge whimsically meanders across, over, and between the rock outcroppings typical of mountain ridges in this area. A good doable hike for an afternoon of fun. While we saw the occasional bear scat on the trail, no bears were in evidence at the time we hiked this. In fact, while the rocky terrain made us constantly on the alert for snakes, we did not encounter any.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 18, 2014
A nice, very easy hike… but it would amazing in the late fall to early spring as I couldn't see much from the ridge. I found many, many ticks on me and my dog (small and large), as the trail is not used often so it's overgrown in places. I only saw two people the whole hike and they were fishing the creek off the FS road at the end of the hike - and it was a PERFECT day to hike! So if you like solitude, this is ideal. A few notes: 1) As you drive down to the parking area on the orange blazed FS road, there's a also parking area up a small hill off to the left and it's very close to the trail head. It's a little longer than the 1.8 miles to get to the parking area described. It's up to you! 2) Be careful as you climb the first part - the blue trail you need to take will be a sharp right turn right (at a tree with three blue blazes) as you see the orange/blue blazed trees. If you come to a fork (orange to the left and blue to the right) with a sign for the Tuscarora trail, you've gone too far. I made this mistake and started descending on the other side of the mountain. 3) The last couple miles are along the FS road, but it's a nice walk that follows the creek and has one crossing. I would like to return on a sunny winter day - the views would be beautiful.
Date of Hike: Monday, September 05, 2011
Hiked this one clockwise. Enjoyed the steep hike up to the ridge which was strenuous but still fun. The hike along the ridge was awesome, there were some tricky spots but all in all it was very nice and not very slick despite all the rain. I am certain there are views here but the clouds concealed them. Hiking off the ridge down to Strasburg Reservoir was pretty tame and the views along the dam (side trip) was worth the trip. The final stretch along the road to parking was the only drawback for me as I am never a fan of road walking. All in all it was really nice and shocked it was rarely used but seemed to show signs of recent maintenance and if you ask me, it was a nice hike I would be happy to do again.
I am surprised the trail does not stay along the ridge up to Signal Knob.