Austin and Furnace Mountains loop is one of the most strenuous
day hikes in the Shenandoah National Park. Not only is the hike long, at over 13 miles, but the steep descent down the Austin Mountain ridge, and long climb up the exposed Furnace Mountain trail, make the 3000+ vertical feet of gain seem even that much harder.
From the Browns Gap parking area pass the closed gate, and start down the yellow blazed Madison Run Fire Road (FR). In 0.8 miles look for the yellow blazed Big Run Spur Trail where the FR makes a right bend. Turn right and follow the Big Run Spur Trail uphill for 0.3 miles to the ridge, and intersection of the blue blazed Rockytop Trail.
Turn left on the Rockytop Trail for 0.4 miles to the intersection of the blue blazed Austin Mountain Trail. Stay left on the Austin Mountain Trail as it follows the ridge, then gradually begins to descend. Pass several vistas of the Furnace Mountain summit, before passing through four rock slide areas. In three miles from the Rockytop Trail, the Austin Mountain Trail will make a sharp left turn, and descend the mountain very steeply for the remaining 0.3 miles to the valley, and ending at the Madison Run FR.
Return the 0.5 miles to the Furnace Mountain Trail, and turn left uphill. In 2.1 miles the Furnace Mountain Trail ends at the intersection of the blue blazed Trayfoot Mountain Trail. Stay left, on the Trayfoot Mountain Trail as it descends, then climbs to the intersection of the AT/Blackrock Connector Trail in 0.6 miles. Stay left towards the Blackrock Summit, and in 0.2 miles pass through the lower section if the Blackrock area, before arriving at the intersection of the white blazed Appalachian Trail AT and Blackrock Summit.
Turn left on the white blazed AT. In 0.3 miles pass the Blackrock parking area, before crossing Skyline Drive on the AT in another 0.6 miles. After crossing Skyline Drive, pass the Jones Run parking area in 0.2 miles, and stay on the AT for the remaining 1.2 miles back to the Browns Gap parking area.
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Reviews For The Austin/Furnace Mountains Hike (5 Most Recent)
Note: this excellent hike is currently closed, as are several hikes to the north, because of the Rocky Mount fire, which has (to date) burned almost 10,000 acres. Furnace, Austin and Trayfoot Mountains are not burning now (yet?), but they're closed for safety and containment purposes. Check the SNP website to see when the routes reopen.
Date of Hike: Friday, April 15, 2016
Did this as overnight from Brown's Gap parking lot, camped on Furnace Mountain. Gorgeous weather both days. The slog up Furnace Mountain was as advertised, I was ready to drop everything and camp by the time I got to the summit. Took it nice and easy, so about 4 hours the first day, then 3.5 the next. Pay attention to the elevation profile, the hike from Furnace Mountain to the Trayfoot Mountain intersection is nearly all uphill and no walk in the park. Saw only one other group on Friday, then a couple folks came up to the Furnace Mountain overlook, but I was the only one camping there. A few more people on Saturday, but not a whole lot. Definitely the right time of year for this hike, not enough bugs to really bother you.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
This was a great hike, although I did it in a different order. From Harrisonburg I followed Port Republic Rd past 340 until it dead-ends, then left on Browns Gap Rd. I parked at Browns Gap parking then went up Madison Run .8 miles until meeting the Austin Mountain trail on the left. That way, go up Austin, over to the AT and Blackrocks Summit, then down Furnace Mountain. I started early - 7am - and was alone until meeting the AT. Then it was crowded with large groups the remainder of the way. I made the loop in 4.25 hours, but didn't stop for a picnic lunch...
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
This is an awesome hike with spectacular views! I hiked this in reverse of the directions, starting at the Blackrock Summit Parking Area and hiking up Furnace Mountain first (great overlook here!) and ending with Austin Mountain and the Appalachian Trail. Could easily be done as a two-day trip if you camped at the campsite at the top of Furnace Mountain and then finished the hike the next day. Very strenuous at points, just made the views all the more worthwhile. I started at 7am and barely saw anyone on the trail until 11ish. I got low on water in the last stretch and refilled at Dundo Picnic Grounds which are right off the trail (I do not know the condition of the spigot in the winter but hiking it in the summer, it was fine!). Overall, a really incredible hike that I highly recommend!
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 28, 2014
Did this hike as two day outing. Started on the AT at Jones Run and hiked the Austin Mountain trail around to the summit of Furnace Mountain. Used the campsite on the summit of Furnace Mnt. There was enough room for our one tent and three hammocks. The weather was unbelievable for the last weekend in December: 50's during the day, overnight low above 40 and excellent visibility. Coming down the rock gardens of Austin Mountain is very tough and then to follow that off with a 1200 foot climb to the Furnace Mountain summit is almost more than the mind can bear (for us 50+ guys in the group, anyway). But the agony is somewhat diminished with the incredible views along the trail and at the summit. You would never realize there are so many homes in the valley, until you see all the lights at night. On second day, continued the hike along the Furnace Mnt. trail, back to the AT and the car. This trail offers the most visitas of any hike I have done before. Having the leaves down right now helps a lot. This is definitely a hike to take your time on and enjoy the views.