This is a secluded out and back hike in the Veach Gap area of the George Washington National Forest near Front Royal, VA. Most of the hike is a gradual ascent through Veach Gap, with a beautiful overlook and campsite at the high point.
Start by passing the closed gate and heading up the yellow blazed Veach Gap Trail. Cross from the right bank over the run in 1.0 miles. After crossing the run meet the intersection of the orange/blue blazed Massanutten/Tuscarora Trail in another 0.1 miles.
If you look carefully you might notice the evergreen ground cover partridgeberry along the stream bank. In the garden the partridgeberry plant is ideal for tucking under established shrubs and perennials that provide shade from the afternoon sun. Not only is this a delightful little plant that will reward you with bright white blooms in the spring or early summer and striking red berries in the fall, but the dense foliage also helps to control weeds and conserve moisture in the perennial bed. Although it prefers moderately moist soil, partridgeberries require relatively little supplemental watering as the dense foliage serves as a living mulch to the soil, preventing moisture loss to evaporation. Robins, Bluebirds, Veery, and Wild Turkey are just some of the birds you can attract to your yard with partridgeberry.
Continue up the orange/blue blazed trail for another 1.4 miles, where the trail will turn right for
0.1 miles before turning back to the left. From this point there is a nice view of the Massanutten Valley to the southwest.
Continue up the trail passing a small rockslide, and in 0.2 miles as you reach the ridge line, arrive at the first of three overlooks. The second overlook is in another 0.2 miles. The third, and most spectacular overlook, is in another 240 feet at the high point of the hike, along with a great campsite. The sunrise is fantastic as it comes over the Shenandoah National Park to the east on a clear morning.
To return just retrace the route
back to Veach Gap Trail, turn right, and continue down to the parking area.
Veach Gap/South Fork Overlook Hike Comments
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 27, 2019
This is a great hike with a camping spot at the top. One I'll do again. This is a great trail if you like seclusion and to be out there without many other folks.
I set my hammock and rain fly up just behind the 2nd overlook since it was later and I assumed no one else would be coming by. No one did. There was a couple who beat me to the prime camping spot at the 3rd overlook. I was able to look down 1000 feet into the valley below while resting in my hammock. The set up worked really well. The spots at the top would have been very exposed in a severe storm, so it isn't a place to go if there is a chance of precip. I cooked my supper and watched the Shenandoah Valley fade into darkness as the sun set behind me. I woke up before dawn and watched the sun turn the sky into brilliant shades of red over the Shenandoah NP. This was an excellent spot to drink my coffee and cook my oatmeal watching it all unfold. I then packed my stuff and quietly hiked down the mountain where I came across a few deer and a bear who didn't hear me until I was closer than I would like to be. It ran away as soon as we saw each other.
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 30, 2019
I enjoyed this hike mainly because it was easy for a great view. The stream that you hike along for the first mile provides a nice soundtrack and it a good source of water for dogs. There were a lot of wild blackberry bushes full of fruit which should be ripe around mid-July. I really enjoyed the views at the top. A bonus was a large amount of wild blueberry bushes with some of the blueberries ready to eat. If you’re a fan of wild fruit I would do this hike in mid-July.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Hiked Vetch Gap after two days of moderate (~1.5") rain. The stream crossing wasn't bad, but had to cross about 50' upstream for dryer footing. The 100 yard long section where the trail and stream merges was easily done no water shoes required (just careful foot placement). The Massanutten / Tuscarora trail section had sections of running water / mud which were passable.
In addition to the stream at the Vetch Gap / Massanutten junction, there was a smaller source of water at 38.885N -78.336.
Despite an attempt to locate the third overlook (and better campsite), it wasn't obvious. The trail started to descend past 38.889N -78.338 and thought (given approaching sunset) that it would be best to return to an earlier, obvious, campsite.
If you've stayed at the third overlook, I'd be interested in knowing the GPS coordinates.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 20, 2018
We had beautiful weather for a fall hike. The leaves were somewhat turned, but a little late this year. The hike is not strenuous, but it is more than a stroll. The reviews helped when we approached the stream after the first mile...you just have to start to look for not only the blazes, but the path to form on the opposite side of the stream once you reach the water. Luckily it had not been raining, so walking over the stream and then up the other side wasn't difficult, but I would understand how this hike might not be possible after heavy rain. The overlooks were great. Personally, I think the second overlook out of the three is the best. I saw some reviews about wildlife - specifically rattlesnakes and we almost walked right on top of one! So keep an eye out, there was a HUGE (perhaps it had just eaten) rattle snake halfway on the trail around the first 1 mile of the hike. It was kind enough to let us know we were a bit too close :)
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 4, 2018
I hiked this with my young sons and it was a nice first hiking/camping expedition. I wish I had read the review that said the trail followed the stream 100 feet. The trail is marked across the stream, but no other markers that I could see, and no trail either, so I guess we were supposed to follow the stream. We went across the stream and couldn't find a trail, we spent some time scrambling over the rocky mountain hillside looking for the trail and never found it. I didn't want to have my boys haul their packs into an area I wasn't certain about where we were going, so we ended up finding another campsite but we had wanted to get to the summit views. Saw a pretty large bear track, and some turkey. Enjoyed ourselves, but next time I'll pay more attention to the comments here!
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 28, 2018
One of my favorites. I hiked it after a rain. You can see a video of the hike I posted here - https://youtu.be/wmHU6_L_aLI The trail was a little "creeky" in places from run off. If you hike it after a rain I would suggest waterproof boots or shoes. I ran into 4 hikers coming down the trail. Had the overlooks to myself. Amazing views. Lots of nats and flys on the hike. Maybe bring some good bug spray. On my way back I ran into about 7 backpackers going up to up to the overlook and a 10 person trail crew from SAWS (trailcrews.org) doing some training. After the hike I went up in Woodstock tower which is only about 4 miles down Fort Valley.
Date of Hike: Thursday, March 15, 2018
A pleasant 7.5 out and back. Starts out easy, alongside a rushing stream. The trail remains relatively flat and easy as you skirt the base of Little Crease Mtn. Then a sharp right and its about of mile of moderately steep ascent. Pleasant panorama back to Veach Gap, visible due to fire ravaged clearings. New growth coming up fast. At the top, stunning views of the Valley and the Shenandoah River. Nice fire pits and potential camp sites at the top--although rocky..
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 31, 2017
Went up with the pup for a quick New Year's Eve morning walk. 16° at the trailhead, 8° and windy up top. 6.8 miles round trip according to the Garmin, sped through it in about 2:25 including 15 minutes at the top for pictures and a snack. Probably my favorite hike in the area because of the varying vegetation, stream, seclusion, and rewarding views at the top. I had to laugh at the earlier posting about the big white dog, as he came out to greet me this time as well. Don't remember that from years back. Anyway, this was my first time doing it in the snow and it was like a whole new hike.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 5, 2017
Great hike, amazing view. Three great overlooks on a ridge trail. Gradual ascent makes for a great kids and beginner hike. Some fire damage at the overlook. Looks like a camp fire at the overlook got away from somebody. The last part of the orange trail is black with ash from the fire but new growth as started. On the bright side the fire cleared the brush and leaves and the view is great. I started about 8:30 am. Only one car in the park lot. Gravel road in has a sign by a house"SLOW 5 MPH Pets at play." A large white dog ran after my car on the gravel road when I left. Plenty of water in the creek as it had just rained the day before. Trail is easy to follow. Two pointers. When you get to the creek crossing you need go up the creek for about 50 feet then the trail is more visible on the other side of the creek. When you get to "the outhouses\sheds" fork take your FIRST LEFT on the orange trail. In the morning the valley was fogged out until about noon. Just one big white out. About noon I could start to see the river through the fog and then a 1pm the fog cleared out. The fog completely cleared out in 30 minutes. I had the mountain to myself until noon when I was heading back I ran into two other hikers with their dogs going up the trail.
Date of Hike: Friday, October 27, 2017
Nice hike. Took us a little over 3 hours to complete with a 20 min lunch up top at the view. The water was still running in the steam. The trail was well maintained. Definitely a nice easy hike.