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Mudhole Gap - Front Royal, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
12.7 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

6.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,140 ft 
George Washington National Forest
Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Front Royal Weather Forecast
Garmin (GDB), GPS eXchange (GPX) (What's this?)
3D View of Route

Left into Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area (past group camping sign) Parking is on your left just before the bridge. 38.92997, -78.32788

At 12.7 miles the Mudhole Gap loop isn't as difficult as a lot of shorter hikes. After you compete the first 3.8 miles to the ridge line near Meneka Peak the remaining 3/4 of the hike is either downhill or mostly flat, with the exception of a gradual ascent on the back loop. Little Passage Creek that runs through Mudhole gap is beautiful in the spring when the water is running with snow melt. One thing to keep in mind is the area is very popular with mountain bikers, so make sure to keep an ear out for them as they come up from behind.

Start by crossing the road taking the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail uphill for .2 miles to the first intersection. Turn left .9 miles continuing on the blue blazed trail as it winds around small ridges and crosses two small streams passing the white blazed connector trail that comes in from your left.

Continue uphill on the blue blazed trail as it traverses the mountain and passes the pink blazed Sidewinder Trail in another 1.2 miles on the left. Continue straight on the blue blazed trail as it enters the Bear Wallow area and and traverses the mountain until it reaches the ridge line and the junction of the Meneka Peak Trail in another 1.5 miles from the white blazed trail.

Continue straight downhill on the blue blazed trail as it descends for another .9 miles where it crosses Little Passage Creek and intersects an access road that leads up to the Transmitting tower on Signal Knob.

Turn left following the orange blazed forestry service road that is part of the Massanutten Trail and in .5 miles the orange blazed trail will turn right, stay straight, a little further you will pass the reservoir. 2.2 miles further on the access road you will come to a gate with a small parking area. Continue straight 100 yards passing a small road and two cabins on your right.

Turn left off the access road onto the purple blazed Mudhole Gap Trail. This will immediately cross Little Passage Creek as it heads down through the gap. Cross Little Passage Creek three more times before the trail turns left uphill in 1.0 miles.

Stay on the purple blazed Mudhole Gap Trail as it widens into an old access road and traverses and descends the mountain for another 3.1 miles passing the pink connector trail then white blazed connector trail will come in from your left.

Turn left uphill on the white blazed trail for .1 miles to meet the orange/blue blazed trail you ascends earlier. Turn right traversing the mountain and re-crossing the two small streams before meeting the Tuscarora intersection in .9 miles. Turn right descending the remaining .2 miles back to the parking lot.

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Hiker Reviews For The Mudhole Gap Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Mudhole Gap hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 08, 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! 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, February 05, 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.

By: Sarah Rating: 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.

By: Andy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 01, 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))

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Pros: 1) Proximity to DC. When I hike, I prefer at least a 1.5:1 boots to wheels ratio (or time spent on the trail vs. time spent in my car). This hike, being only an hour and 15 minutes from Arlington, provided nearly a 2:1 ratio for me (even more trail time for most folks) 2) Little Passage creek and the reservoir -- I love my lab and he loves water. 3) Only encountered two mountain bikers. This probably was because I went on a cool, overcast Wednesday in March. (I wouldn't recommend this hike on a warm weekend, given its proximity to DC and Front Royal.) 4) If you're somewhat out of shape, this is a good hike to shake the rust off your legs and clear the static from between your ears. After not having hiked all winter, this was long enough without having any particularly steep ascents or descents. Cons: 1) Seemingly at least half of the loop is on wide, relatively flat forest service trail/road. Good for bikers, but somewhat boring for hikers. (You might want to consider the suggestion of one of the earlier reviewers to stay on the blue trail rather than taking the left onto the orange trail.) 2) No challenges. While this hike is well suited to rusty or inexperienced hikers (though not too out of shape, since it is 12.7 miles long), I wouldn't recommend this for someone seeking challenging climbs. Editorial Note: The trail description near the end says something like "after 3.1 miles (on the purple trail) you'll pass the pink trail then a white blazed trail will come in from your left." That "then" elides about half a mile. Have faith in those white blazes, you'll see them, just not as soon as you might have thought reading that sentence. Don't do what I did and double back to take a detour on the clearly pink blazed cut through trail that appears about 50 feet after the initial pink intersection. (Or you could intentionally take the pink trail all the way back to the blue, adding an extra mile and a half or so to your trek.) There's also a short unblazed trail leading to a campfire site about half way between the pink and white trails.

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Early October
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