At 11.6 miles the Mudhole Gap loop isn't
as difficult as you may expect. With a large majority of the hike following fire roads on the Mudhole Gap and Massanutten trail portions the loop the hike can feel like a nice long walk in the woods. The circuit has a good deal of diversity with many pools and runs along Little Passage Creek in Mudhole Gap, Strasburg Reservoir, and views from Green Mountain. This loop also sees very little traffic compared to the the much busier Signal Knob trail system just to the north.
Mile Summary and Highlights
3.6 - Walk upstream along Passage Creek on the Mudhole Gap Trail 4.5 - Mudhole Gap Trail ends at FR66 and Massanutten Trail. Multiple campsites along the creek 4.9 - Pass a wildlife clearing on the right 6.9 - Strasburg Reservoir 7.4 - Begin steepest section of the hike 9.3 - Views of Fort Valley
Mile 0.0 - From the Bear Wallow parking area off Fort Valley Rd/VA 678 pass around the closed gate and start up the purple blazed Mudhole Gap Trail that follows a forestry road. Soon pass around a second gate and continue along the wide forestry road.
Mile 3.52 - The Mudhole Gap Trail turns right where it meets Little Passage Creek. There is an unmarked trail here that leads downstream and ends at a local road. Continue upstream on the purple blazed trail for another 0.3 miles to the first of 5 crossings of Little Passage Creek.
Mile 6.6 - The Massanutten Trail turns left off the forestry road and will pass around the western side of the reservoir before re-joining the forestry road on the top end. You can take either option, however we prefer to stay on the forestry road as it provides better views of the reservoir.
Mile 6.9 - Arrive at the Strasburg Reservoir. The reservoir is open to fishing with the appropriate fisheries state license, however swimming, boating or another activity on the lake is prohibited. Continue on the forestry road around the east side of the reservoir passing a campsite at the top end shortly before the Massanutten Trail rejoins the forestry road.
Mile 10.1 - Pass the pink blazed Sidewinder Trail on the right. Continue along the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail another 0.9 mile to the intersection of the white blazed Bear Wallow Spur Trail on the right.
I was looking for a longer hike with not too much elevation gain and this turned out to be a good choice. About half the hike is forestry road, wide and clear. Some reviewers of other hikes prefer rocker trails to roads but there are so many rocky hikes on this site I found this to be a nice change of pace. When you get to the steepest uphill part, you've already gained a lot of elevation without realizing it and so that steepest section is not so bad. This hike shares trails with other hikes on this site which I've been on and like also: Little Passage Creek, Signal Knob, Meneka Peak, and Three Top Mountain. Of all these, I think this is my favorite (followed by Little Passage Creek) and I'd hike it again.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Overall, straight forward hike. Directions / map were spot on. There were some downed trees between the first and second stream crossing. I was startled to find that there were vehicles driving on the Massanutten trail. Based on this, I decided to divert to take the loop on the west side (mile point 6.6 in the directions) of the reservoir and I'm glad I did, since when I got to the dam head, there were probably 30-40 people having a bbq up there. The views were unimpressive even without leaves being on the trees yet, but it was certainly a nice hike.
C$ and da BuGG Boyz
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 9, 2018
This hike is solid, nothing spectacular. There were plenty of great campsites and lots of water. The creek crossings did get a little old. The fire roads were not bad at all. We saw a 5' king snake and a baby box turtle. Very little views, I imagine in winter it would be better. The initial climb was fairly long and difficult, we were carrying 40 lb packs however. We did miss the white cutoff path at the end, not sure if it was even marked since we were paying close attention. We had to take the fire road to the main road where it dead ended and do a forced march quickly down the public road. Took us about 5.5 hours with a short lunch. A few people at the beginning of the hike but not a single person after the reservoir.
Date of Hike: Monday, September 8, 2014
I want to thank you for the gpx track for this hike. I spent a couple of nights along the Maneka Peak ridge and decided to do some bushwhacking. I had copied the Mudhole Gap track onto my GPS before I left home. I put the GPS in my daypack only as a safety precaution. My bushwhack launch point into the forest was at a switchback turn. I had a great time poking around until I decided to return to the trail. The sky was overcast and I had got myself turned around a bit. I pulled out the GPS and set a waypoint on your track and was back on the trail in no time. Thanks a bunch!
Date of Hike: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
We were iced out of school, so I took this long hike (made longer by using the pink trail to connect back to the blue). With every twig encased in ice for the first 2/3 of the trip, it was a wonderland, making up for the fire road hiking. The mudhole gap trail (purple) that parallels Passage Creek was really nice, the creek was full making crossing cold but still do-able. I'll hike again in the spring, there should be some nice photo opportunities while the creek is still running strong. I recommend the hike, just know you're going to be out there a while.