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Duncan Knob - Luray, VA

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
3.6 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
2 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,090 ft
8.5 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,510 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Trail head and parking area for the Gap Creek Trail. 38.70868, -78.56038
Trail head and parking area for the Scothorn Gap Trail. 38.69143, -78.58004
Crisman Hollow Road/274 is closed February 1 to April 1.

Along with sister hike Duncan Knob Hollow, Duncan Knob climbs Catback Mountain in the Massanutten Range offering solitude, a rock scramble, and great views of the Massanutten Range and Shenandoah Valley. Choose from either the 3.6 mile out and back to the Duncan Knob summit from Gap Creek, or make the longer 8.5 mile circuit hike from Scothorn Gap. There are multiple good camp sites on both hikes, including a site at the summit with gorgeous sunset views to the southwest.

Gap Creek - Out/Back - 3.7 Miles

Scothorn Gap - Circuit - 8.5

  • Mile 0.0 - Take the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail uphill after crossing Passage Creek. Traverse one switchback and climb steeply, pass a clearing then a pond at 1.2 miles. Depending on what time of the year it is the pond might be completely dry.
  • Mile 1.4 - Arrive at a four way intersection. The yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail turns left, and directly ahead is the orange blazed Massanutten Trail which you will use to return. To the right is the Massanutten Connector Trail. Turn left staying on the Scothorn Gap Trail. The trail gradually rises and passes a small clearing then ends at the intersection of the blue blazed Gap Creek Trail.
  • Mile 3.0 - Turn right uphill on the blue blazed Gap Creek Trail for 0.3 miles to Peach Orchard Gap where there is a large campsite. The white blazed Duncan Knob Overlook Trail is on the left in the saddle.
  • Mile 3.3 - Turn left onto the white blazed trail then in 0.1 miles pass a campsite on the right. After the campsite the trail becomes more rocky and harder to follow. Look for rock cairns to guide you. As the trail enters the rock slide below Duncan Knob stay to the left and around the largest bolder in the field before heading uphill to the ridge. At the ridge there is a small campsite suitable for a single tent. Follow the trail right to the overlook.
  • Mile 3.6 - From the overlook there are expansive views to the south of the Shenandoah Valley and west towards New Market Gap. Return back to the intersection with the Gap Creek Trail at Peach Orchard Gap.
  • Mile 3.9 - Turn left downhill on the blue blazed Gap Creek Trail (steep) where the blue blazed trail ends at the intersection with the orange blazed Massanutten Trail. Directly across the run is a large campsite suitable for multiple tents.
  • Mile 4.4 - Turn right upstream on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail for 1.8 miles, then the trail makes two long switchbacks becoming steeper and crests Middle Mountain at the intersection with the unofficial pink blazed Strickler Knob Trail.
  • Mile 6.5 - Descend on the orange blazed trail back to the intersection with the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail where the orange trail turns left.
  • Mile 7.1 - Continue straight on the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap trail past the pond retracing your route back down to the Scothorn Gap parking area on Crisman Hollow Rd.
  • Mile 8.5 - Arrive back at the parking are on Crisman Hollow Rd.
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Hiker Reviews For The Duncan Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Duncan Knob hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Hans und Heidi Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 14, 2017
Will someone please bring a can of white paint out to mark the trail to the summit? Or do the Boy Scouts do that? The white blazes are faded out. We almost missed this trail. When the blue trail is at the crest of the saddle, that is where the skinny White spur trail is. There are no blazes in sight and we walked right past it, and a runner came up behind and missed also. We doubled back before we went downhill very far. At the boulders we scrambled way to the left. It was not as steep and there was a view that otherwise one would miss if they went straight up the rocks.

It was a nice hike. The views should be great in the winter. We hiked on a blue-sky day just after 3 days of rain. The yellow trail downhill was like walking a flowing creek bed, and it was quite muddy on all the segments, but navigable. I give it , on this day, 3 stars over all, 4 for difficulty, 5 for streams that otherwise are not there, 3 for views. We will come back here in the winter, for sure.

H und H

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2016
Gorgeous Fall day to hike this trail. The drive from Vienna Metro Station via I-66 and down I-81 was a breeze. Navigating route 211 through New Market, VA was easy as well. However, when going up the hill, the sign for Crisman Hollow Road on the left side of the road is a "blink and you'll miss it" entry point. Once driving onto Crisman Hollow Road, it is winding and paved road for a mile and a half before turning into a dirt road. The road itself is barely large enough for 2 cars so be cautious when driving on the road.

The Scothorn Gap Parking Area holds up to 10 cars and the lot was full by the time we arrived, so we parked on the side of the road and took our chances that no one would hit my car. We followed the trail in accordance to the HikingUpward map. The incline 20-minutes into the hike (on the first segment of the Scothorn Gap Trail) was slightly challenging as it rarely plateaued enough to catch your breath. The second segment of Scothorn Gap Trail up until the Gap Creek Trail was much more manageable. The incline from the start of the Gap Creek Trail to the Duncan Knob Summit was fun, but the real test came when finagling through the lengthy rock scramble. Believe me, the rock scramble got more challenging as the elevation progressed. I highly recommend going slow over the boulders. The view from the rock outcrop at the summit was breathtaking.

The downhill portion of the Gap Creek Trail, containing a few switchbacks, could be a little claustrophobic as misplaced footing could lead to tumbling down the mountainside. The Massanutten Trail offers some incline and flat sections, plus there is a brief switchback as you get closer back to the Scothorn Gap Trail.

Overall, this is a great hike. Perfect for a dry Fall day. I would avoid this hike if it going to rain as the rocks will be rather slippery. Not sure if this hike is a good hike to do in the Spring or Summer given that the trails are narrow and hikers could easily come into contact with ticks.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 25, 2016
Originally planned to hike out the Scothorn Gap trail and up the blue Gap Creek to camp out on the ridge just below Duncan Knob. I've hiked the Duncan Knob Hollow trail loop previously in the winter and it's great, but this is a muddy boggy mess in the spring/summer. The initial ascent was very wet and you'll be taking your shoes off to cross Passage Creek. Lots of ticks on the way up to the the first four way intersection, so bring bug spray and/or wear pants tucked into socks.

Started down the Scothorn Gap trail after the four way intersection and ended up turning around due to the amount of water on the path. At least 6-7 inches in some areas that are unavoidable. Luckily I knew that there are a couple camping spots out on Strickler Knob, so we turned around and hiked up the Massanutten trail taking the red/pink knob trail on top of the ridge. Overall it ended up being a great overnight trip and we got a great campsite with an amazing view of the Shenandoah River Valley.

I won't be back out here anytime soon. This is certainly a 4-5 star trail in the fall/winter, but i'd avoid in spring/summer. Especially with all the recent rain.

By: yoshi Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2016
Duncan knob is really nice. Climbing up rocks was fun. But there were many ticks, my wife and I found 14 ticks during hiking. We had to check often and we always found a couple ticks. Also there were a lot of muddy places.

By: Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Truly lovely views from the summit, but I wish I had heeded the warning of the person below who hiked in May 2014 and mentioned how muddy it was! The trail was quite boggy and buggy, which took away from some of the enjoyment. Overall it was a nice hike, but not one I'd plan to repeat, even in a different season.

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