Fridley Gap in the George Washington National Forest has
a little bit of everything. From gentle mountain streams, to
ridge climbs and a great swimming hole this hike has it all. Located at the southern end of the Massanutten range just east of Harrisonburg Virginia the hike is secluded. Consider taking a swim at the Fridley Gap swimming hole which is perfect on a hot summer day a 1/2 mile from the parking area, but remember this is cold mountain water anytime of the year!
Mile 0.0 - From the parking area on Airey Road walk up to the trailhead of the Fridley Gap Trail where the road turns left towards private property. Follow the Fridley Gap Trail next to Mountain Run on the left bank. The trail will climb through the gap and pass a side trail on the left. This leads to the private road up from the parking area. Continue upstream on the Fridley Gap trail crossing through Mountain Run twice.
Mile 0.46 - Arrive at the swimming hole. This large pool and table rock falls is a perfect place to take a swim on a hot summer day. From the swimming hole there is a campsite directly upstream, and the intersection with the Massanutten South Trail is in another 100 yards.
Mile 0.5 - Arrive at the intersection with the orange blazed Massanutten South Trail. Turn right crossing the run. There will be another larger campsite just upstream from this crossing. Continue on the orange trail south as it begins to climb on the eastern side of Fourth Mountain. In 1.4 miles from the run the trail will arrive at the ridge, with an unmarked side trail to a rock outcropping and view westward towards the Harrisonburg valley.
Mile 1.9 - Continue south on the orange Massanutten South Trail as it follows the ridge then makes two switchbacks and and crosses Fridley Run. The trail then turns back to the north and climbs on the western side of Third Mountain. Pass over the ridge of Third Mountain and through a small open area. The trail now follows a wider path that also serves as a forestry road, and descends for 0.3 miles to the 4-way intersection with the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail.
Mile 3.9 - At the 4-way intersection the Massanutten South Trail turns right, with the Fridley Gap Trail coming n from the left and continuing straight. Turn left at this intersection onto the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail. The Fridley Gap Trail follows a gravel forestry road at this point. The trail will descend for 0.7 miles and arrive at the intersection where the Fridley Gap Trail turns off the forestry road left uphill, and the forestry road continues as the blue blazed Martin Bottom Trail.
Mile 4.6 - Turn left off the gravel forestry road as the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail now starts climbing Third Mountain. The trail is rocky and steep and makes several small switchbacks then arrives at the ridge in 0.35 miles. Descend the steep western side of Third Mountain. The trail is rocky and has has only a couple of switchbacks before levelling out and arriving at the intersection with the orange blazed Massanutten South Trail.
Mile 5.6 - Turn left on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail for 0.1 miles back to Mountain Run and the intersection with Fridley Gap Trail you hiked up earlier.
Mile 5.7 - Turn right downstream on the Fridley Gap Trail passing the swimming hole on the left. Retrace your route back to Airey Rd. and the parking area.
Mile 6.2 - Arrive back at the parking area on Airey Rd.
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Topo Hike Map (PDF)
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Reviews For The Fridley Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
We were searching for a hike near New Market that would not take too long as we were short on time. We started out at the entrance off Airey Road and LOVED the hike along the water. So many beautiful waterfall pictures especially since we've had a lot of rain and the water was really flowing. The trail was very well marked and we followed the directions from this site and had no problems staying on the trail. It got rather strenuous after crossing the water and heading up the mountain. Just had to take breaks to let the heart rate come down now and then. But we were determined to make it to the lookout. And we did! It was worth it. We sat up on the rock and had our lunch. Amazing! We decided to hike back down the same way we came as we had someplace to be and didn't think we had enough time to do the whole loop. Next time we will do the whole thing. The downhill is hard on the toes and knees. We ended up doing just under 5 miles with different cutoffs for pictures, etc. We saw a total of 5 other people on the trail which is a nice change from some of the other populated trails in the area. Just be careful on all the big rocks - very easy to twist an ankle. Hiking boots and a stick would be beneficial.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 21, 2017
We did this hike as directed in about 4.5 hours, with some longish breaks at the little overlook spur and other spots. The blazes are clear and you shouldn't go wrong if you're paying attention. The parking lot was pretty full but I think that was for the camping spots near the swimming hole, which was really low for this time of year. Past all that we didn't see anyone until we came back down. Speaking of coming down: a heavy crop of acorns plus several inches of dry leaves makes for some very tricky footing... the descent is pretty tough on the knees. My Runtastic app mapped this at 8 miles.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 03, 2017
Reading the previous reviews, intimidated me. "Had to stay over night after getting lost...." While we did the whole trail in about 6 hours, I have to say, this one kicked my rear. After the watering hole, we initially turned right and followed the stream/creek to a dead end. We went back to the watering hole intersection and went the opposite direction. Holy heck, i was not ready for the vertical hike. It felt like I was on a stair master for hours. I wish I had looked at the topo map prior to this outing. I'd have mentally prepared myself. I'm still rehabing an ACL reconstruction and the verticals were harsh but routine stops to reset my heart and breathing. It's beautiful country.
I won't bore you with the whole trek after that first ascent. Several times we thought we were approaching the "3rd ascent" and we were wrong. On the descent, I fell behind the group and wound up going downhill for 30-45 minutes and I kept telling me self, "why am I not hearing the water flowing yet!" There are some great views of the valley. The hike (after that first ascent) was wonderful. The overlook view was gorgeous. I'm definitely glad I went on this hike.
Point of clarification. if you turn right after the watering hole, the trail takes a steep descent on the "right" side of the creek. You should cross the stream/creek immediatetly after turning right at the intersection. Do not following the stream. That is where my group went wrong.
Date of Hike: Thursday, November 17, 2016
This hikes is one of my favorites close to Harrisonburg. Some of the turn can be a little tricky but if you follow the maps and pay attention to the color of the blazes you will be fine. If you hike often and are in pretty decent shape you can knock this one out in about two hours.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2016
Awesome hike! This hike is pretty steep, mostly just on the purple part. I would recommend hiking the whole trail in two days. I camped with two others at the swimming hole and that was very nice. Locals will frequent the swimming hole from an easy access route that doesn't require much hiking so take note that you'll likely run into a handful of other hikers at the swimming hole.
CAMPING: There are 4 or 5 small cleared camping spots along the orange marked trail. They are in decent spots but the only cleared camping spots with easy water access are at the swimming hole. The swimming hole is a great spot to camp, however you will see other hikers there. The orange portion of the trail has fewer hikers and is pretty secluded. Also on the orange part you could stray a few hundred feet from the trail and find a ton of great spots to make your own campsite. The purple portion of the trail is likely too steep to camp comfortably (unless that's what you're in to). GETTING TO THE TRAIL (it's a little confusing): You'll see the sign for Washington National Forest at a gravel road. You can park at the very first intersection but make sure you don't block any direction. Best bet is to parallel park on the gravel road somewhere. You can take Boone Trail to begin. Or you can drive (or walk) up the gravel road to the next trail head. From what I understand, you have to start using one of these other trails.