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Strickler Knob - Luray, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.6 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5.0 hours with 1/2 hour for lunch
2,140 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Park at either the Massanutten Trailhead 38.66285, -78.59838, or at the Scothorn Gap Trailhead 38.69143, -78.58004 on Crisman Hollow Road/274.
Crisman Hollow Road/274 is closed February 1 to April 1.

Some of the best vistas in the mid-Atlantic. The Strickler Knob Trail is a challenging rock hopping/scramble with beautiful views of New Market Gap, the Luray Valley, and a 360 degree picture perfect panorama from the Strickler Knob summit. This is a challenging hike with a great little rock scramble on the ridge. Camp at any of the ridge campsites and enjoy great sunsets and sunrises over the Shenandoah Valley, however be sure to carry up water as there are no springs along the ridge.

  • The Strickler Knob Trail is not a maintained or an official trail, and is considered a bushwack. This hike is not suitable for young children or dogs.

  • You can shorten the hike to 5.2 miles and avoid the tough climb at the end by starting the hike from the Scothorn Gap trailhead on Crisman Hollow Rd/274.
  • Mile 0.0 - From the Massanutten trailhead on Crimson Hollow Rd/VA211 start east towards Waterfall Mountain on the orange blazed Massanutten trail, immediately passing a campsite on the left. In 0.3 miles there is a vista of the Luray Valley. Continue for 0.3 miles at which point the trail turns steeply downhill.

  • Mile 0.6 - Make several switchbacks, then the trail becomes less steep before reaching the intersection of the white blazed Massanutten Connector trail in 0.5 miles from the ridge.

  • Mile 1.1 - Turn left on the orange blazed Massanutten trail as it begins to climb alongside Big Run, passing a campsite in 0.1 miles. Cross the run where the trail becomes steeper, then re-cross the run, make one large switchback, then level out and arrive at the intersection of the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap trail 1.9 miles from the last intersection.

  • Mile 3.0 - Turn right uphill as the orange blazed Massanutten Trail continues to climb then arrives at the ridge and intersection of the pink blazed Strickler Knob trail in another 0.6 miles.

  • Mile 3.6 - Now the fun starts. Firstly, thank you to the trail builders! This used to be a formidable bushwhack. The Strickler Knob trail is marked with pink blazes on the rocks, but may not be there as they have previously been removed by the Forestry Service. The trail will also appear to end in several places, but keep heading along the ridge and you'll pick the trail back up. After 0.3 miles pass a rock outcrop and view to the west and north. From this vista, continue on the trail rock hopping for another 0.4 miles to another opening, and beautiful vista to the southwest. From this point the rock hopping and bouldering becomes more intense. The first obstacle is a 12ft climb over a small rock wall, then just before the the main summit pass through a group of three boulders. This is not the summit stack! Once through the crack continue to follow the blazes, pass a small overhang, and climb a 6ft ledge.

  • Mile 4.3 - The main summit is accessed through a rock crack on the left. Continue for another 30ft to the southern summit overlook. Climbing to the main summit provides a 360 degree view of the Luray Valley and New Market Gap.

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

By: GS Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 16, 2017
I hiked the shortened version (~5.2 mi) of this hike with my wife this past weekend. Great views at the end, but we had a bit of fun getting to the knob itself. A few notes:

- There's no signage at all for Strickler Knob. Hiking east from the Scothorn Gap trailhead led us to an eventual four way trailhead with a sign for the Massanutten Connector Trail and a few others. We correctly figured that the "straight" route was the right one, continuing in the direction that the Scothorn Gap trail had led us. (Important: This note doesn't apply to the longer ~8.6 mile version of the hike, which would have you turning right at this intersection.)

- The pink blazes were essential to navigating to the knob. Many wrong paths along the way, so keep an eye out for them.

- There was a turkey vulture living in the rocks you pass through at the base of the summit. He spooked us while we were balancing on an edge when he appeared and flew a ways away. I'm guessing he's roosting there from the smell and his behavior in staying so close by.

- There's ATO fraternity graffiti on the tops of the rocks at the summit, which is sad. Please leave no trace.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
This is a great hike. It's not as scary as some of the other reviewers proport it to be. It's certainly worth doing over the other easier trail that slims a few miles off the hike if you want a little bit of a workout. Great canopy cover for the initial 4 miles or so. Obviously, the knob is the fantastic and great place to stop for lunch. The return is basically all downhill until that last "brutal" uphill section. Steady pace and few breather breaks and we got to the top in just under 20mins. If you're worried about it then just hike the first flat section until you get to the decent and assess from there. If you're looking for a great training hike then this is it. At speed, we did it in under 4 hrs.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Started from the Scothorn Gap trail head mid morning. There is a small creek to hop over or wade through right at the very beginning that immediately gives way to a fire road. The fire road starts off gently and is a pleasure to walk for most of its length. There are a couple of steep parts, but nothing to give anyone any pause. The road narrows as it skirts the northern end of a small clearing. Soon after the fire road quickly comes to a four way junction, where the Gap Creek Trail comes in from the left and the Massanutten comes in from the right. Crossing over both you end up on the Scothorn Gap Trail which climbs up through a fairly open forest. Soon you get a limited view looking east across the valley to the mountains that make up Sheandoah National Park. To the south, right near this view is the side trail to Strickler Knob. There is a small cairn on a larger rock that marks the start of the trail, in addition to pink blazes on rocks. It is nearly impossible to miss the turn off to Strickler Knob.

The trail to the knob bounces over some low rocks before becoming single track for a little while. The trail zigs and zags and rolls over and around some interesting rock formations, which provide plenty of diversions for those so inclined to climb or check out every cool little feature on the trail. There are a couple of openings to the west, which provide limited views. Near the end of the trail there is a blue blazed trail that leads down approximately a tenth of a mile to a series of cliffs which provide the best views to be had anywhere on the mountain. From the cliffs the whole of the valley is spread open to the east, and there are limited views to the north where more cliffs tantalize the eyes, and south where you are afforded decent views of the summit knobs.

Back on the main trail, the last section past the cliffs is the hardest. There is a near vertical scramble up about a six foot tall section of rock face, which is much easier going up than down. Immediately after that rock scramble is another section of scrambling between two leaning towers of rock, and then some more scrambling to get to the end of the trail. There are several rock formations at the very end of the trail that provide opportunity for more scrambling up. There are excellent views from the tops of all of them, and you get a three hundred and sixty degree view of everything around you. Unfortunately, there are also graffiti tags on the tops of all the rock formations.

Some notes:

The trail is not very hard. Other than literally the last hundred yards, the trail is quite manageable for children or pets.

The side trail to the cliffs near the summit is well worth the two minutes it takes to get there. The view east across the valley is fantastic.

There were multiple campsites along the trail up and a few more off the side trail to the summit.

I did not see one other person the entire time. My car was the only car at the parking area when I arrived and when I left.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 19, 2017
I don't want to sound like a parrot, but this hike as described is particularly brutal. If you don't want brutal, don't hike this as described. I hike every weekend and like to think I'm in pretty good trail shape and let's just say that it is Tuesday and my quads still hurt from Sunday. I can't think of another hike in the east where I have had to take a "quad break" going downhill but there you have it. Our hike was just shy of 12 miles on the day in 6 hours (it is slow going on the rocky ridge), with 30 minutes to eat up on top of the knob. Despite the brutality, I give it 5 stars anyway. The views are so worth the agony.

Things to be aware of:

1) It is February and the gate is closed until some time in April. The gate is located at the trailhead for the Massanutten Story Book Trail and is 7-tenths of a mile south from where the Massanutten Trail crosses Crisman Hollow Road. We walked the extra mile and a half on the day.

2) If you go in and out via Scothorn Gap, this will be a much easier hike, somewhere around a 3, maybe 3.5 with the rock scramble.

3) A lot of people (and it was flat-out crowded on Sunday: there were about 50 cars parked when we returned late afternoon to the parking lot) are coming in off of a fire road that intersects US 211 on the Luray side of the gap. I have seen it on the map but haven't investigated it: it follows Big Run up to the Massanutten Trail. All those people had much, much fresher legs than did we after coming down the big hill. You could also come in from Camp Roosevelt in the north though it is a longish walk.

4) The pink blazes on the rocks and the red markers on the trees are there, but you have to be looking for them. The pink blazes are on the ground. The red markers are higher than you might expect. I came to a lot of places where it was 50-50 on which way the trail went, but on a narrow ridge, it doesn't really matter. You're going to pick up the "official" path again at some point.

5) I would venture to say that anyone who has the gumption to hike up to the Knob will have little difficulty in climbing up and through the rocks at the end. The scramble is nothing to really worry about. It is fun and the views are such a fantastic reward, though doubtless you will be sharing them with a bunch of other people.

By: Mike H Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 15, 2017
First hike I've done with a 5-star difficulty rating on HikingUpward, and it is definitely warranted. The ascent at the end of the hike is B-r-u-t-a-l (and yes, the capital B is intentional). Aside from that, the rock scrambling and climbing in the last mile up to the summit was quite fun (it's not Old Rag, but still fun nonetheless). I agree that it is very easy to walk right by the start of the pink blazed Strickler Knob trail (I did), but once on it, the markings are easy to follow (and the pink blazes on the rocks are supplemented with red markers nailed to trees). It was a foggy morning, and unfortunately, the fog did not burn off by the time I reached the summit at 11 am so I did not experience the full majesty of the views. It burned off a bit by noon when I left, and the groups of hikers behind me probably got some better views. If you do the hike as described and park at the Massanutten trailhead on Crisman Hollow Road, do not park at the Story Book trailhead - keep going another 0.5 mile on Crisman Hollow past there. Parking is definitely limited (maybe 5-6 cars max).

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