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Signal Knob - Front Royal, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

5.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,680 ft with two different ascents
George Washington National Forest
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Signal Knob parking area on 678/Fort Valley Rd. 38.93503, -78.31956

The Signal Knob hike in the George Washington National Forest has spectacular views of Strausburg VA. in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as Buzzard Rock in Fort Valley to the east. Signal Knob, at 2,106ft, gets its name as both Confederate and Union troops used it as a lookout during the Civil War. The Confederate Signal Corps controlled the outlook from 1862 until August 14, 1864, when Union troops defeated the 61st Georgia Volunteer Infantry and took control of the peak.

  • Mile 0.0 - Start the hike from the right side of the Signal Knob parking area. The trail is blazed orange which designates it as part of the Massanutten Trail. Start uphill on the orange blazed trail then shortly pass an old stone house on your left, cross a small stream, then follow the trail around the eastern section of the mountain.
  • Mile 1.5 - Arrive at the Buzzard Rock Overlook. The trail will take a hairpin turn back to the south and becomes significantly more rocky. In 0.9 miles from the Buzzard rock overlook the trail turns back to the north passing another nice vista of Fort Valley. Continue to follow the orange blazed trail as it becomes less steep, then passes several nice camp spots just before arriving at the intersection of the Meneka Peak Trail.
  • Mile 3.4 - Pass the Meneka Peak Trail on the left, continuing on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail as it winds around the ridge to your right and passes a transmission tower in another 0.8 miles.
  • Mile 4.3 - Arrive at the Signal Knob lookout area. The lookout has some nice views north of the Shenandoah Valley and Strausburg VA. The Massanutten Trail continues as a orange blazed gravel road now descending the mountain to the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail the crosses the road.
  • Mile 5.5 - Turn left on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail crossing Little Passage Creek, then ascend Green Mountain/Meneka Peak where you arrive at the ridge line, and white blazed Meneka Peak Trail.
  • Mile 6.3 - Cross over the ridge and proceed downhill remaining on the blue blazed trail as it winds back and forth through the Bear Wallow area.
  • Mile 7.1 - Pass the pink blazed Sidewinder Trail on your right.
  • Mile 8.2 - Pass a white blazed connector trail for Elizabeth Furnace. Continue straight on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail as it winds around the mountain then arrives at a flatter area close to the valley, and an intersection where the blue blazed trail turns right downhill towards Fort Valley Rd./VA678
  • Mile 9.3 - Continue straight on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail (this section was formerly the the Tuscarora Spur Trail and was reblazed in 2002) as it descends slightly, then parallels Fort Valley Rd./VA678.
  • Mile 9.9 - Arrive back on the left side of the Signal Knob parking area.
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Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Signal Knob hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Signal Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Signal Knob hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: MattD Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2014
I did this as a training hike with a goal of 4 hours, but it took 4.5. The parking lot was full, but only saw 3-4 people all day, and a couple of bikers. It's a good day hike. I'm not a fan of the rocky terrain up to Signal Knob, so be sure to have good ankle support. After you come down the fire road and turn left onto Bear Wallow Trail (about m5.5), it turns up hill for about a mile, which was tough. After getting to the peak, and turned down hill it was a nice steady decent. The map is good, but my GPS clocked this at more like 10.5.

By: Zelma Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Took us 5 hours to complete this hike, plus about 20 minutes of stop at Signal Knob overlook. The hike was pretty intense and the ground only gets flat at about the last 2 or 3 miles. This flat surface is very much helpful as by that time we were so exhausted and just wanted to get to the parking lot and rest. Overall this is a difficult trail, total distance according to my gps is 10.17 miles from parking and back.

Tips: hiking shoes with good ankle support is a must as the trail is rocky. Wear long legging/pants, as the trail is covered with bush at several points. My long pants got scratches here and there. Our car is the only car parked but this is Thursday, not sure how the situation is on weekend. PS: we did not encounter any bear. But lots of bugs.

By: peter Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I hike portions of this hike often, usually a couple of times a week.The main reason why I'm posting is to make you aware of a bear that is hanging out about 1/4-1/2 mile into the hike. Ive seen him 3 times over the last few weeks. He is usually by the house that is never used. He seems to get spooked by people and he frequently runs full speed across the trail down to the creek. The problem is he doest run further than that. He stays just out of sight. I just thought you should be aware because his behavior is a little unusual.

By: DCA Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 22, 2014
Arrived early in the morning (Drove from DC) around 8-8:30 and there were only two other cars in the parking lot.  It was foggy/ misting for the first hour or two but cleared up very nice right before reaching Signal Knob.  Generally speaking it is a pretty rocky hike, had one person with the group that wore sneakers and they began to complain about the rocks about 3/4 of the way through so boots are strongly suggested.  It rained the night before and just a little that morning so not only were the rocks wet there were multiple places where a little water was running down the trail so i'd recommend proper footwear if it is wet out as well.  The climbs weren't extreme although the second one was a slight challenge, I would say that I am in good shape.  Ran into less than 10 people on the trail in total so that was nice, three were on horseback and one on a bicycle.  I will say that when we got back to the parking lot around mid day there were many bikers setting up to head out to the trails so this may be an area that gets busy with bikes later in the day.

All in all a good hike with some slightly challenging climbs, rocky for sure so proper footwear is reccomended. Enjoy!

By: Bernard in Virginia Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 08, 2014
Nice hike, challenging terrain, great views especially on the first leg up to Signal Knob. The hike up the Tuscarora Trail is brutal -- recommend a break or two going up. Also, there appears to be a new campsite (cleared area with a fire ring) just past the stream on the southern portion of the hike, a few miles before the parking area. Nice to have an established camping option on the way in from the hike. I recommend this one.

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