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Elliot Knob - Buffalo Gap, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.5 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,425 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Park on VA42 at a small turn-in and closed gate. There will be a stop sign with '291' attached to it. 38.16125, -79.26927

Elliot Knob is the highest point in Augusta County, and one of the highest peaks in Virginia. Just west of Staunton and secluded in Buffalo Gap, this hike features two waterfalls, several great views to the west and east, and a grass covered summit. If you're lucky, this hidden treasure can be all yours for a day.

From the small parking area pass the closed gate and head up Falls Hollow Trail. The trail is marked with both yellow blazes and yellow plastic diamonds, and follows an old logging road for the first 1.5 miles.

At 0.4 miles pass a small logging road on your right, the first of four. In 0.6 miles from the parking area the trail makes a turn to the left before entering the first of three small clearings at 0.8 miles.

Pass through the clearings and arrive at Falls Hollow Run on your right in another 0.6 miles. Continue up the trail, cross the run, and in 50 yards reach the first of the two main falls. Cross the run again, where the trail becomes steep, then arrive at the largest set of falls in another 0.3 miles. There is a yellow diamond on a tree, and small pile of rocks marking the falls.

In another 0.1 miles the trail turns off the old FS road to the left. The turn is marked by three yellow diamonds. The old Falls Hollow Trail continues straight and is no longer navigable.

After turning left on the yellow blazed trail continue 0.8 miles, crossing two small spurs, and passing through a utility clear cut before arriving at an access road. Turn right uphill on the yellow blazed dirt access road for the steepest part of the hike before arriving at a spring and small pond in 1.0 miles.

Continue along the road as it passes a small stand of spruce, winds back to the right, then to the left, passes the yellow blazed North Mountain Trail and transmission station, then enters another stand of spruce and flatter area.

At this point the dirt road you have been following turns to the right towards the transmission station. Turn left onto the trail that climbs on the west side of the mountain and up to the grass covered summit in another 0.1 miles. The lookout tower was built in 1958 and hasn't been used since the early sixties. If you are doing this hike as a backpack there are two sheltered campsites under a stand of spruce at the summit.

To return retrace the route you took up. However, be alert for the left turn off the steep dirt access road onto the trail that leads back towards the run. There are three yellow diamonds making the intersection, take the immediate left onto he trail.

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Hiker Reviews For The Elliot Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Kate M. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 22, 2018
If you are interested in getting out into the woods, then turn around when you hit the gravel road. The first part is lovely and climbs steadily through the forest trail that follows a creek with several small waterfalls. Great for a hike with a dog. Then it switches back to wind up along a mountainside on a trail surrounded by shrubby mountain laurel. Also pretty nice and a good workout. I would go back and do the first two legs of the hike again to get outside and enjoy a nice day (constant gunshots from the nearby shooting range even fade in time as you get back in there.)

Then it takes a turn for the worse. The road is downright punishing- steep without reprieve, no tree cover, and you are essentially walking under powerlines the entire way. The good feeling of communing with nature is stripped away almost instantly. It never ends. Wound up turning around with the power stations in site and the way back down to the mountain trail was almost worst. Take care not to break an ankle as my feet were constantly rolling on loose gravel. Terrible end to a pleasant hike! First hike of the season and so perhaps a bit ambitious. I'm not in terrible shape but I could always be better. But even in the best shape, I still would never do that again to myself, I don't care how nice the view is from the top. They should have cut the trail across the road and switched-back to the knob that way.That was not hiking.

By: Anonymous Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 14, 2017
I rarely write reviews of hikes, but this one was almost exceptionally bad, which surprised me based on the reviews I read before heading out. The very first bit is nice, through the woods with a pleasant incline, and the trail is well-kept. But then after about 45 minutes or so you take a right turn onto a fire road that is extremely steep, with no tree cover, for the entire rest of the way up. On a hot sunny day and my feet pounding the hard gravel I wondered why this seems to be such a popular hike. But I thought the view must make up for it. I was disappointed to find that after hours of struggling up this unrelentingly steep and decidedly un-scenic road (it follows along under a power line), the top is just a small pasture with the view of the surrounding mountains entirely obscured by trees. I regret having made the trip. I can find stuff like this at home.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
During July 2017, a hiking partner and I completed a round trip hike from Shenandoah Boy Scout Camp to the top of Elliot Knob and back. The 18 mile trek took about 8.5 hours and it was definitely worth every step, including the last 2 miles of the grueling, rocky and rutted service road (where Falls Hollow trail intersects, upward). We started at 1700 feet and summited the knob at 4400 feet somewhere just over 50,000 steps and almost 4000 feet in elevation gain!! The view from the fire tower is absolutely amazing and the cold breeze was extremely nice. Bring lots of water or prepare to filter water from the creeks along the way if you hike during the summer. I left with 4 liters in my backpack and used every drop!

By: BenJ Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 29, 2017
The creek was up and covered part of the trail. We unblocked a log jam that was helping it overflow the trail. There are a couple of trees that are down over the "cross mountain" part. The temperature was pleasant and only saw a couple of other people. Nice hike with flowering bushes in the forest to look at.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 08, 2017
We split the hike into two days and camped at the top, which was a little chilly this time of year but gorgeous.

Day one was ROUGH for us. Hiking along the waterfalls was refreshing and shady, but we missed the nearly 360-degree turn off of the old Falls Hollow Road onto the yellow blazed trail. On the website, it shows three yellow diamonds on your right indicating to turn left but those diamonds are either no longer there or no longer visible. We hiked straight on the old trail for about half a mile before the trail got too strenuous and we realized we hadn't seen any yellow diamonds. So we turned around and retraced our steps. Luckily, it is easier to see the crazy turn when you are headed back down the hill. The next part of the trail after the turn was shaded and less sloped.

But things change drastically once you hit the dirt access road. I'll be quite honest - I felt incredibly defeated climbing the steep 25% grade. The only thing you can really do is take it in short bursts. The view from the top of that mountain is well worth it though! Including short breaks and our little detour, it took us about 4-4.5 hours to get to the top of the mountain. Also when it comes to water, keep in mind that the only source once you break away from the waterfalls and creek is the pond near the top. Even after filtering it, the water still has a dirty pond water taste and we much preferred the cold creek water. You just have to decide if you are willing to carry all that extra weight up the hardest part of the hike.

There are plenty of places to set up camp and start a fire if you want to. We slept great in our tent and sleeping bags even though the temp dropped to 30 degrees. The top of the mountain is an amazing place to watch the sun rise and set though. Day 2 was much easier and all downhill even though it is the same distance. We were down and to the car in just about 1.5-2 hours. Overall a beautiful hike, but you have to brace yourself for the end of the climb up.

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Early May
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