The Sugar Knob hike up Pond Run Trail and down Racer Camp
Hollow Trail has some of the best stream scenery in the George
Washington National Forest. This is one of several great loops
in the Great North Mountain Area with fantastic
camp sites all along its route.
the bridge over Waites Run start the hike up Pond Run Trail. Pond Run Trail is both blue and green blazed
(green blazes designate deer study areas
and can be found throughout the Great North Mountain region).
It will cross the run a number of times as it winds its way
the valley. After 2.5 miles cross
a wooden ford placed over wet land area and arrive
at the ridge.
At the trail intersection you can make a quick
side trip by going directly ahead on the white blazed lookout
trail for 100 yards and a great view
to the west. Return to
the trail and turn right (left if you didn't go
Turn left continuing on the blue blazed trail as
it descends slightly on its way to Sugar Knob. In 0.6 miles
arrive at the four way intersection of the Peer Trail, to your
left, and the Stony Creek Trail, to your right.
on the blue blazed trail for 0.9 miles as it passes over Sugar
Knob then descends continuing to another four
Turn left downhill on the orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow
Trail as it passes several great
camp spots and crosses the
run several times before turning right uphill in 1.6
After climbing uphill for 100 yards the trail will turn
traversing the mountain for another 0.9 miles and reaching
the junction of the pink blazed Old
Mail Path and wildlife
Turn left downhill
into the clearing and at the bottom of
the clearing enter the pink blazed Old Mail Path as it winds
downhill before arriving in 1.0 mile at a wooden
foot bridge and crossing Waites Run. Continue downstream
blazed trail for another 0.5 miles before arriving at the yellow
blazed FS road.
Turn left downhill on
the FS road and in 0.4 miles pass
a closed gate. Continue downhill on the FS road with Waites Run
now on your left for 1.0 mile and crossing a bridge arriving
back at the parking area.
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Sugar Knob hike:
Reviews For The Sugar Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
I love this hike. I have done it in a day twice, though it is a long day. Stream crossings were easy, though rain has been in short supply lately. I could imagine in spring or after heavy rain, this could be a slog. Definitely take the detour to the lookout. If I were to do an overnight, I might hike this backwards and camp there to enjoy a quick hike back (and some nice breakfast afterwards). As others have mentioned, it is hard on the feet trying to step on and over the rocks and will require you to re-calibrate the time per mile you anticipate. Yes, this hike isn't easy as applesauce, but it is lovely. I enjoy the streams, both for the relaxing sound and because I can skip carrying heavy water and use my water filter to get hydration. Someday I would like to rent the PATC cabin for an overnight.
Some things: The bridge name initially confused me. My first time, I looked for a sign with the bridge name. There is no such sign. Parking is a pull-out to the left. There is a bridge just past it. The trail-head is just before the bridge. I recommend taking a photo with your phone of the trail map at the trail head.
C$ and the Bug Boyz
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 13, 2017
This hike was troubling to us for a couple reasons that may not bother others. I will start with those then get into the positives.
1- The stream crossings were all right, but there were countless 'mud crossings' that were not fun.
2- The trail is large rock 80% of the hike. This was brutal on the feet and very annoying.
Aside from the above, the hike was quite interesting. Starting off in the lower biome by the river we saw newts and turtles, with lush ferns and foliage. The view from the top of the ridge was quite outstanding- one of the best in the GW Forest. That alone made the rocks and mud worth it. The climb up was fairly difficult, we were wearing large (40 lb) packs.
The upper ridge on the second leg of the hike was a new biome, pretty shrubs and arid bushes typical of higher Shenandoah ridges.
We had no tick problems until we descended, and even then it was not terrible. Plenty of camping everywhere, although the lower reaches were muddy and probably has a lot of bugs. We camped on the old mail trail at an elevated pine knoll. Very nice. We did 9 miles the first day and the rest Sunday morning, we were greatly slowed by the crossings and rocks.
Overall I would not do this hike again but for a one time deal you can do worse, and the view was incredible.
Date of Hike: Friday, April 7, 2017
I went with a group of five women ages 25-52. We decided to do the hike in reverse due to the heavy rains during the week and concern about the multiple stream crossings. We had difficulty finding the start of the yellow blazed trail since we missed the fact that you have to go up the steep hill to the left to get to the parking area. But, after a bit of wandering, we finally found it as well as the beginning of the old mail trail (pink). We stayed at the first campsite we came to by the stream. It had a nice quadrangle of nice logs to sit on around the fire pit. It could easily have handled more than our three tents. The next morning, we finished the loop: orange to blue. We passed several other large campsites. I was glad we left the blue-blazed trail for the second day. There were at least 8 stream crossings--some more difficult than others and the blue-blazed path was very rocky, but pretty. A walking stick was very helpful. The leaves had not come out yet on the trees. It will be beautiful when the mountain laurel blooms (when do they bloom?). I loved the maps at the beginning and ending of the old mail trail and wished there had been more. The map showed all the trails in the area and how they connected to other peaks. I've been looking for a map like this for a long time. I took a picture which turned out to be a good reference during the hike. Too bad there weren't overlooks. I'd rate overlooks at "1" or "0", not "2". The faster hikers did the one mile hike (uphill) to retrieve the car from where we had started the hike.
Date of Hike: Thursday, January 26, 2017
I should have probably read the description before heading on this hike. With the recent rains and snow, Pond Run was flowing rather well and from the first one, there was no easy way at any crossings. Had it been warmer, it would have been no problem and very refreshing but I wasn't really interested in getting wet feet 1 mile into an 11 mile trek. But we managed by using fallen trees and lengthy jumps to stay dry, though none were ON the trail so we had some interesting excursions to find somewhere to cross. As expected, the higher we climbed, the smaller the run got so by the time we reached the top, it was no big deal.
On the way back down the crossings on that run were less numerous and we didn't have any problems at all.
We will definitely hit this hike again in the spring because it is very beautiful and isn't overly hard climbing. Would make for a great overnight trip.
Date of Hike: Friday, August 12, 2016
Went on a very hot and humid weekend in mid-August, which assured solitude, but also made for a steamy, buggy, slow-going hike. We had intentions of hiking in about four miles and setting up camp and finishing the loop early the next day, but mother nature had other plans. Early in the hike we encountered a timber rattler in a section of trail where we couldn't easily go around him safely and quickly. Waited a bit and eventually got him to move off the trail. Within minutes, a bear surprised us by sliding down out of a nearby tree, and loping off into the woods. It was AWESOME. Shortly thereafter, the heavens opened leaving us in a pretty intense thunderstorm. We decided to make camp early, dry out and not push it any further. Lots of great campsites near the overlook, and that's where we found ourselves. It was a beautiful sunset and beautiful early morning. As other reviewers mentioned, the rocks are very slick, especially after rain, and we fell a few times on the way out. The stream crossings were fun, and not too difficult. In all a nice hike that isn't heavily traveled, with the possibility of spotting animals. A real treat!