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.
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.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 21, 2011
This was overall a nice hike. I had my dog with me and she enjoyed how much water was available. There were lots of wild flowers, and many more to come at the higher elevations that will be blooming in the next week or two. There was a little too much hiking on service roads for my liking, which is why it got 3 instead of 4 stars. It's a nice hike up to the peak. The reservoir was really pretty, but the service road after it got boring after awhile. The streams were very full, and I had to take my boots off at a couple crossing on the mudhole gap/purple trail. It seems like it would be a very hot hike in the summer. I would like to do it again in the late fall/winter/early spring when the leaves are off the trees. I think you'd have some really good views then. It wasn't a very hard hike technically, but 12.7 miles is enough to wear most people out. I would go on the hike again, but it wouldn't be my first choice.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 1, 2010
I was torn between a rating of 3 and 4 for this hike but decided to be generous.
I parked at the bear wallow parking area to cut off some of the hike. I have been on the section of the tuscarora trail from bear wallow to the signal know parking area and didn't think it was worth repeating for this hike.
I really enjoyed the walk along little passage creek and by the strasburg reservoir for all of the wildflowers. This section is a road but it is grown in quite nicely and well shaded.
Little passage creek through mudhole gap itself was another highlight.
The mudhole gap trail after the gap itself was dismal. That road is larger and not well grown in. I hardly saw any wildflowers at all along that route. I had wanted to stop for lunch but there was no pleasant place to do so. (I ended up eating a late lunch at Elizabeth furnace.) The lone highlight of this section was passing under a large purple flowering tree that filled the air with a lovely aroma. (Perhaps someone can enlighten me as the the species of that tree - 2 inch bell shaped purple flowers, large tree (reached the canopy))