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Austin/Furnace Mountains - SNP, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
13.3 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
7.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
3,045 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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There are three parking locations along Skyline Drive, with parking also available at the end of Browns Gap Rd/VA663. 38.24032, -78.71052. The 'Get Directions' above will take you to the northern most parking on Skyline Drive at Browns Gap.

The Austin and Furnace Mountains loop is one of the most strenuous day hikes in the Shenandoah National Park. Not only is the hike long, at over 13 miles, but the steep descent down the Austin Mountain ridge, and long climb up the exposed Furnace Mountain trail, make the 3000+ vertical feet of gain seem even that much harder.

From the Browns Gap parking area pass the closed gate, and start down the yellow blazed Madison Run Fire Road (FR). In 0.8 miles look for the yellow blazed Big Run Spur Trail where the FR makes a right bend. Turn right and follow the Big Run Spur Trail uphill for 0.3 miles to the ridge, and intersection of the blue blazed Rockytop Trail.

Turn left on the Rockytop Trail for 0.4 miles to the intersection of the blue blazed Austin Mountain Trail. Stay left on the Austin Mountain Trail as it follows the ridge, then gradually begins to descend. Pass several vistas of the Furnace Mountain summit, before passing through four rock slide areas. In three miles from the Rockytop Trail, the Austin Mountain Trail will make a sharp left turn, and descend the mountain very steeply for the remaining 0.3 miles to the valley, and ending at the Madison Run FR.

Turn right on the yellow blazed Madison Run FR for 0.8 miles. 200 yards before reaching the closed gate, and SNP boundary, turn left onto the Furnace Mountain Trail. Immediately cross Madison Run, then start the ascent of Furnace Mountain. This section of the trail is very exposed, so make sure to have a good hat. In 1.8 miles arrive at a small saddle where the Furnace Mountain Summit Trail turns left. Follow the Furnace Mountain Summit Trail for 0.5 miles, passing a nice camping spot at the summit, before descending for 50 yards to the overlook.

Return the 0.5 miles to the Furnace Mountain Trail, and turn left uphill. In 2.1 miles the Furnace Mountain Trail ends at the intersection of the blue blazed Trayfoot Mountain Trail. Stay left, on the Trayfoot Mountain Trail as it descends, then climbs to the intersection of the AT/Blackrock Connector Trail in 0.6 miles. Stay left towards the Blackrock Summit, and in 0.2 miles pass through the lower section if the Blackrock area, before arriving at the intersection of the white blazed Appalachian Trail AT and Blackrock Summit.

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Turn left on the white blazed AT. In 0.3 miles pass the Blackrock parking area, before crossing Skyline Drive on the AT in another 0.6 miles. After crossing Skyline Drive, pass the Jones Run parking area in 0.2 miles, and stay on the AT for the remaining 1.2 miles back to the Browns Gap parking area.
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Hiker Reviews For The Austin/Furnace Mountains Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: BrewMoon Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 17, 2017
Did this hike from the bottom for 2 reasons: first, I always like doing the steep ascents and switchbacks first and second, coming from the west (Harrisonburg), it's a much shorter drive--saving like 30 min each way. I also did it clockwise doing the Austin climb first. Weather was overcast and mid 30s which was nice for the strenuous parts. Just a small amount of snow at north facing higher elevations. Had the trails almost nearly to myself. Since I had the time, I did both the Blackrock and Furnace Mtn summits. Two tips if you do the hike in CW direction: there's a trail split just past the Blackrock parking area & the signposts are misleading. You can stay on the AT (right) trail up to the BR summit. Then, right at the summit, there's another sign post indicating the Blackrock Spur Trail, but doesn't mention the Furnace Mtn trail. You can take it anyway to the Trayfoot Mtn trail & intersection with the Furnace Mtn trail and save some distance. I didn't do either, so my total distance was about 13.6 miles. Some really nice views but not many animals. If you have the time & want a longer hike, I'd recommend this hike. One final tip on parking at the bottom: park on the right shoulder by the last driveway, don't drive all the way to the gate. It's too narrow to turn around so it's a long back-up in reverse. Don't ask me how I know...

By: Ash Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 29, 2017
I enjoyed this hike more than any other I've recently done. I did this as a day hike as written. Great trail variety, great views, excellent solitude (except near Blackrock Summit), and what I thought was a good length for a day hike. I will do this hike a few more times in different seasons.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 03, 2017
Did this hike starting at the bottom, which is a small parking area at the end of Browns Gap Road, Route 663. Easy to find, plus quicker and shorter to get to versus driving down Skyline. Quick map search for Browns Gap Road in Grottoes, Va and drive to the end. I’ll recommend starting here as you can quickly get the climbing out of the way and then have a relatively easy, though long, hike the rest of the day.

Went in same direction as guide on a drop-dead gorgeous day. The slog up to Trayfoot is long but the grade isn’t bad. Lots of beautiful wildflowers. I didn’t take the Furnace side trip, as some friends had said it was OK but not spectacular. Instead, spent more time goofing around at Blackrock, which is really nice and has great views. That cut a mile off the trip. The downside of doing the hike this way is coming down Austin Mtn at the end when I was starting to get tired. This is really steep and have to cross a lot of spectacular riprap with loose rock. Remembering the old saying “ you get tired going uphill, you get hurt going downhill”, I took my time and enjoyed looking around. All together, about 5 ¼ hours hiking, 6 hours with lunch and looking around, 12.45 miles total. I loved this hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 09, 2016

other than that, I should mention I did this hike in reverse, and shortened. As I started from the Jones Run parking lot and took a left upto skyline to intercept the AT once found, I continued to stay left and uphill for the majority of the way. As I explored the overlook first, then secondly Blackrock Summit. Gorgeous, insane views from Blackrock, but this isn't the Blackrock review area :\ so thats why furnace gets a 4, because the overlook was great, but nothing spectacular, and for leading me upon the beauty Blackrock.

By: Mac Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Note: this excellent hike is currently closed, as are several hikes to the north, because of the Rocky Mount fire, which has (to date) burned almost 10,000 acres. Furnace, Austin and Trayfoot Mountains are not burning now (yet?), but they're closed for safety and containment purposes. Check the SNP website to see when the routes reopen.

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