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Hiker Reviews for the Austin/Furnace Mountains Hike - 1 to 36 of 36   
Review the Austin/Furnace Mountains hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Hylly Rambler Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 08, 2018
I did this from the Grottoes side, as it's so much faster to get to from Valley locations. I also speed hiked/trail ran the loop and took the fire road all the way down instead of branching off on the Austin Mountain piece, plus I didn't do the Furnace Mountain overlook spur. This makes it an 11.9 mile loop. Outside of the bottom of the fire road, and Black Rock Summit, you don't see many people on the trail. I've done this loop about 10 times, mainly in the colder months to avoid ticks and snakes. I typically see a lot of bear, when they aren't hibernating, and occasionally deer. Yesterday all I saw was about 15 squirrel and a grouse on the fire road. For trail running it's a great loop because you get the climbing over first. It's about 4 miles of tough climbing, with 2 quarter mile downhills, to Black Rock, then 3 miles over relatively flat running on the AT, then a slightly less than 5 mile run down the fire road.

I've also done the counterclockwise way and gone up Austin, which is very steep for a mile, then run the ridge cutting back to the fire road, and then taken a right and come down the fire road about 4 miles, and that makes for a 9 mile loop.

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
*****TAKE NOT PLEASE***** GO UPTO BLACKROCK SUMMIT, IT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT YOU, GUARANTEED!

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.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 15, 2016
Did this as overnight from Brown's Gap parking lot, camped on Furnace Mountain. Gorgeous weather both days. The slog up Furnace Mountain was as advertised, I was ready to drop everything and camp by the time I got to the summit. Took it nice and easy, so about 4 hours the first day, then 3.5 the next. Pay attention to the elevation profile, the hike from Furnace Mountain to the Trayfoot Mountain intersection is nearly all uphill and no walk in the park. Saw only one other group on Friday, then a couple folks came up to the Furnace Mountain overlook, but I was the only one camping there. A few more people on Saturday, but not a whole lot. Definitely the right time of year for this hike, not enough bugs to really bother you.

By: John Thomas Fisher Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 17, 2016
I've done this one 3 or 4 times now. One of my favorite hikes I've done. Crawl up to the rocks when you get to the top there, be quiet, think about life, or just don't think at all for an hour. It's a gorgeous view year-round.

By: John Thomas Fisher Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 17, 2016
I've done this one 3 or 4 times now. One of my favorite hikes I've done. Crawl up to the rocks when you get to the top there, be quiet, think about life, or just don't think at all for an hour. It's a gorgeous view year-round.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
This was a great hike, although I did it in a different order. From Harrisonburg I followed Port Republic Rd past 340 until it dead-ends, then left on Browns Gap Rd. I parked at Browns Gap parking then went up Madison Run .8 miles until meeting the Austin Mountain trail on the left. That way, go up Austin, over to the AT and Blackrocks Summit, then down Furnace Mountain. I started early - 7am - and was alone until meeting the AT. Then it was crowded with large groups the remainder of the way. I made the loop in 4.25 hours, but didn't stop for a picnic lunch...

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
This is an awesome hike with spectacular views! I hiked this in reverse of the directions, starting at the Blackrock Summit Parking Area and hiking up Furnace Mountain first (great overlook here!) and ending with Austin Mountain and the Appalachian Trail. Could easily be done as a two-day trip if you camped at the campsite at the top of Furnace Mountain and then finished the hike the next day. Very strenuous at points, just made the views all the more worthwhile. I started at 7am and barely saw anyone on the trail until 11ish. I got low on water in the last stretch and refilled at Dundo Picnic Grounds which are right off the trail (I do not know the condition of the spigot in the winter but hiking it in the summer, it was fine!). Overall, a really incredible hike that I highly recommend!

By: Dr. Fizz Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 28, 2014
Did this hike as two day outing.  Started on the AT at Jones Run and hiked the Austin Mountain trail around to the summit of Furnace Mountain.  Used the campsite on the summit of Furnace Mnt.  There was enough room for our one tent and three hammocks.  The weather was unbelievable for the last weekend in December: 50's during the day, overnight low above 40 and excellent visibility.  Coming down the rock gardens of Austin Mountain is very tough and then to follow that off with a 1200 foot climb to the Furnace Mountain summit is almost more than the mind can bear (for us 50+ guys in the group, anyway).  But the agony is somewhat diminished with the incredible views along the trail and at the summit.  You would never realize there are so many homes in the valley, until you see all the lights at night.  On second day, continued the hike along the Furnace Mnt. trail, back to the AT and the car.  This trail offers the most visitas of any hike I have done before.  Having the leaves down right now helps a lot.  This is definitely a hike to take your time on and enjoy the views.

By: moondrunk Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 24, 2014
We hiked this starting from Brown's Gap road at the park perimeter, hiking up the Furnace Mountain trail first, then coming down the Austin Mountain trail. Beautiful day, and perfect timing for the the mountain laurel bloom on the Furnace Mountain trail, which was amazing. Few people on the way up, even at Blackrock Summit, but we saw several groups of hikers heading up the Austin Mountain trail as we descended. The multiple rock slides on this trail are no joke, especially at the end of a long hike when you may be feeling tired. You will want to stay alert! We saw one bear (and heard what was likely another) toward the end of the Austin Mountain trail just before getting back on the fire road. Great workout on a beautiful day (we have also done it on a hot day in high summer, which I don't particularly recommend).

By: Jordan D. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 03, 2014
After eagerly anticipating some great Springtime weather, conditions finally got nice after a week of rain and some friends and I set out for another expedition to SNP, this time driving from the DMV area to the Austin/Furnace Mountain parking area. We left early in the morning and arrived at the trailhead at around 9 AM. With a beautiful, cloudless sky and fresh mountain air in the mid-60s surrounding us, our group of 4 friends embarked with heavier loaded backpacks (two of us going GoRuck style with 40lbs of bricks in addition to water, food, etc.). The first 5 miles of this trail are very straightforward and simple. Almost completely downhill and comparatively easy compared to the rest. Good idea to take your lunch break either at the bottom of the long ascent or at the top (recommend the top because it's beautiful up there). The climb lasts a while and is a great workout, the trail up was well maintained and not very rocky/hard to traverse (there are some rock slides but they don't pose much trouble). The Black Rock summit at the end is well worth the effort and offers some great views and a nice place to soak in the horizon. It's also large enough that even on a crowded day you or your group can find a space to call their own - We didn't see many other people on this hike, however, so good rating on solitude this time. If you're looking for something a little more challenging but without the expense of good views and scenery, this is a good hike to go through. All in all it was a great hike. * * * *

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 13, 2013
I hiked this one again, starting at the Fire Road since Skyline Drive was closed for the day. Cold day with no other hikers. The trail was snow covered in spots, icy in a few others, and poles were a great help. There was quite a bit of tree debris on the AT portion of the hike probably from the recent freezing rain, and one or two fresh trees down on the Austin Mountain portion. Nothing that couldn't be stepped over but the branches lying on the trail can trip you if you're not careful. Overall the hike was awesome...much better this time around because no leaves made for better views. I skipped the leg to the Furnace Mountain summit but walked up to Trayfoot summit just to do it. No vista on top but views were okay through the trees.  Almost all of the rocks at Blackrock were snow covered to some degree and that made for a couple of nice pictures. There was a pretty large bear track at the Furnace/Trayfoot/Blackrock trails intersection so there's at least one in the area.

By: Mac Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 22, 2013
We started at the fire road and proceeded counter clockwise. It took us about 6.5 hours, breaks and Furnace overlook included.The Furnace Mountain-Blackrock Summit stretch is indeed strenuous, but the views were lovely: you can see the skeleton of the mountains clearly, as the trees are now completely bare. The heavy leaves over rocks made for some slippery footing, especially on those tricky rock slides coming down Austin. Even if you're a seasoned hiker, be careful on those: it's ridiculously easy to twist your ankle. Poles would have been useful. We saw no bears, though we'd seen one the week before off the fire road, and only one deer. And met only one other hiker heading up Furnace... didn't even see anyone on the A.T. Temps in the 50s and 60s. I believe we went through only a liter of water each. Great, challenging hike.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 23, 2013
This hike was the most challenging I've taken to date. I gave it a 3 because it was a nice hike, but not great. The trail down to the Furnace Mountain trailhead is pretty easy with a couple of ascents that will start to get the blood flowing. The descent back down to the fire road was as steep as promised, impressively so. The 0.8 miles along the fire road was a great opportunity to start mentally gearing up for the ascent up Furnace Mountain that you know is coming. It was 47 degrees when I started the hike so even though the Furnace Mountain trail is exposed, it wasn't bad. Still, by the time I got to the summit I was pouring sweat. I had a long lunch on the rocks of Furnace Mountain (at about 7.9 miles in). The rocks face the route you just came in on and you can really gain an appreciation for what you walked to get there. The view was perfect. Once lunch was done I turned back uphill and was surprised at how much elevation gain was left. I knew it was significant before I headed uphill, but after the initial climb I thought it would be easier than it turned out to be. Once you get to the Trayfoot Mountain trail you know the hardest part of the hike is over and except for the last stretch up to Blackrock Summit, the trail is almost all flat or downhill. Blackrock Summit was very impressive and has a vista that included just about everything that you had hiked up to that point. I saw nobody the 11+ miles to Blackrock, and only two hikers on the AT after I passed the Blackrock Summit parking area. If solitude is your thing, then this hike was a 5 at least for the weekday that I hiked it on.

By: Zitchen Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Took two days to do this one. I was in no rush. I camped by the summit of Furnace mt. and continued on to Blackrock. It was pretty awesome. Tons of great views. I saw five bears during the hike which was pretty gnnnarrrrrlllyyy.... lots of blackberries and blueberries which was also tuuuubular. Solitude was good... only saw three other hikers during my trip (until I reached the AT of course). Saw some pretty sweet lizards too and camped under a bright full moon. It was pretty killer. Definitely recommend it with the precautionary it's-pretty-tough-elevation-wise. LOH.

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 02, 2012
This was a fun hike! I did the hike counterclockwise and, as you might expect from the elevation profile, the most challenging parts were the steep descent down the Austin Mountain Trail to Madison Run, and then the long climb up the Furnace Mountain Trail. My not-as-young-as-they-used-to-be knees protested while going down the end of the Austin Mountain Trail. Next time I hike this loop, I'll go in the other direction to see if it is any easier on the knees. The Austin and Furnace Mountain Trails were both pretty rocky. In contrast, the Trayfoot Mountain and Appalachian Trails were nice and had very few rocks. I even wondered who had the unfortunate task of taking the rocks off the Trayfoot/Appalachian Trails and moving them to the Furnace Mountain Trail.

The entire hike took me about 5 hours, which included a 15 minute stop at the Furnace Mountain Summit for lunch. Very nice views from the summit and I would have lingered longer except the summit was mostly in the shade and the cold rocks were sucking the heat from my backside. Also, I was worried about the "Be out by 5 pm or you might get locked in the park" warning that was posted at the Rockfish Gap entrance station. I had the trail mostly to myself. Only saw a group of 2 on the Austin Mountain Trail, and then just one mountain biker at the base of the Furnace Mountain Trail. The Appalachian Trail was more crowded (maybe 10 people over the 2 miles of the AT I hiked). Wildlife: scared up three white-tailed deer while going up the Furnace Mountain Trail and saw lots of piles of bear scat (but no actual bears).

By: Daniel Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 19, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this hike. We started about noon, only intending to hike to the top of Austin Mountain and back, but opted to do the whole loop, getting back about 6, just before dark. We parked at Big Run overlook, hiked the AT down to the Austin Mountain Trail. The changing of the leaves was at its peak so the views were spectacular. On the last leg of the loop, on the AT, we spotted a large black bear, which was really cool.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2012
This was the best hike my wife and I have ever done. The rock slide areas on Austin mountain had incredible views and many of them were rose quartz, which was beautiful. This hike had many spectacular views the whole hike even with dense tree cover in the beginning of fall. We liked that the views continued the whole trip instead of endlessly climbing up a mountain for a brief view at the top. On our way to the trail we saw a bear crossing skyline drive of all places. We followed the directions on hiking upward and would suggest this for others. After 10 miles having to hike up Austin mountain would have been very painful if you did the hike in reverse. The trayfoot mountain trail was not blazed, but there was one of the SNP sign posts pointing you in the right direction towards the blackrock connector trail. Also a hat for furnace mountain is a good suggestion, its a very exposed. My wife and I are in good shape and this hike kicked our butts. This definitely earns its 5 for difficulty. Looking forward to hiking this one again!

By: VSOP Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 09, 2012
Great hike.  Our crew followed the HikingUpward map route counterclockwise.  The Austin Mt trail was pretty leisurely,  mostly shaded and well blazed.  Some spots on the footbed of the trail on side hills were worn over but easily passible.  Water was available only after the trail intercepted the Madison Run fire road and then 75 yards or so west of the intersection.  The stream was running but as summer wears on it could be spotty.  There's a good place to have lunch just across the stream before you start up the Furnace Mt trail.  This was the last place to get water before Blackrock Hut.  Ticks were plentiful so when we stopped we were picking them off.  The Furnace Mt trail was in good shape but was a lot more exposed so it got kind of warm on the way up.  And the way up is constant for about 3.5mi until you get to Trayfoot Mt.  While it's not steep it's a workout.   The spring at Blackrock Hut was running pretty well.  We found a lot of good company with thruhikers at the shelter.  The only downside were the numerous whipoorwills that called all night.  After a short uphill on the AT to Blackrock summit, it was all downhill to the Brown's Gap lot. 

By: Frank Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 26, 2012
My wife and I have hiked this a dozen or more times over the years and it's a favorite. We have found it's better, however, to park down at the bottom of the trail. There's a parking area just down the fire road from the park boundary. Many people park there and we have never had an issue (we don't park there to beat park admission -- we have an annual pass -- but so the last leg of the hike is downhill!). This is a great hike just after a heavy snow. There are thousands of animal tracks from large to small, few, if any hikers, and the drive will be closed so no traffic.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 08, 2011
We hiked Austin/Furnace Mountains on 10/8 that was a Saturday on a long weekend off because of Christopher Columbus day. We arrived at the parking area that was starting to fill up at 10 A.M. I think this trail should be a 10 star overall. What a great long hike. We did the hike in a little under 7 hours. Took 200 pictures and had a long 20 min lunch break. We started on browns gap and started heading down the road and after the parking lot was no longer in sight we did not see another hiker for the 12 of the 13 miles hiking this trail. The last mile you run into a few hikers just looking at a few locations.

We also did have to pay $15.00 for parking on the SNP. Not sure if there was away around that but cant really complain went back on the next Sunday to hike Jones Run/Doyles River Hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 16, 2011
Three of us hiked a route today that was a combination of the Big Run and Austin/Furnace hikes. We parked at the Doyles River parking area and started from the Big Run overlook. We hiked the standard Big Run hike until we intersected with the Austin/Furnace hike. From there we continued on the Austin/Furnace hike until we intersected with the AT. From that point, we stayed on the AT heading north until we returned to the Doyles River parking area. It rained for nearly the entire hike and the wind was howling through the trees. Each time it did so we were keeping a watchful ear and eye out for falling branches or trees. Luckily for us none fell around us be we encountered much new deadfall on the trail. When we arrived at Madison Run, it was a raging torrent. We had to continue down the Madison Fire Trail until we reached the paved road and continued down it or about a half mile to where a bridge crossed Madison Run. Once on the other side of Madison Run, we bushwacked our way back to the Furnace Mountain trail. All in all, it was quite an experience.

By: Marc Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 23, 2011
This is a really fantastic hike! We shortened this hike to ~8.5 miles by using the Madison Run Fire Road as a loop with the Austin Mtn hike. We also started at the western trailhead (which is very easy to get to, just a few minutes east of Town of Grottoes) and then went clockwise. The ascent up Austin Mountain was brutal but quite enjoyable. One section in particular has tons of loose cobblestone-sized rocks, refreshingly very different from other hikes in the hike. Many of those rocks are rose quartz (?), giving the mountainside a somewhat pinkish look. (By the way, this hike is probably not dog-friendly given all the rocks.) The views are not the best in the park but you have consistently good views of the valley for several miles. Once you get near the top of Austin Mtn, the trail levels out and it's a series of gentler ups and downs along the ridge line. Madison Run Fire Road is a long, steady downhill but even that still has some nice scenery to it. There is also a stream paralleling the fire road for the last mile of the hike. One other recommendation: if you do the hike as I've suggested, you'll be just a few minutes from Town of Grottoes, which has the Grand Caverns. For $16 you get a 70-minute tour of some quite impressive caverns.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 21, 2010
When I hike, I'm usually looking for a trail with great views, few people, and which will kick my ass. This one ranked high on my three criteria. I did this hike in about 5.5 hours, with a 20 minute lunch - but I was hiking apace, intent on getting my money's worth. It was a beautiful, if sweltering, August afternoon I chose for this hike. In hindsight, I'd like to do this hike again on a cooler, fall day. Temperature is especially good to keep in mind since a good portion of the trail is exposed (little tree cover) and a tad bit of the trail is over rock slides (which make you feel like you're on a griddle).

I think I enjoyed the views from Blackrock Summit the most, but I admit to being very tired by the time I got there (its right at the end) and I didn't stick around  long enough to really appreciate them (just took some pictures and left). If you're in it for the views, I'd definitely recommend you starting early in the day and taking your time so that you can pause and take it all in.

On another note, I came across THREE bears on this hike, which was a record for me. They must have had the troops out patrolling for forest fires. If you plan to hike this trail, don't bring along your pic-i-nic basket.

In sum: great, solid hike with enviable views and an opportunity get lost (metaphorically) in the woods for a few hours.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 17, 2010
When I read this was one of the most strenuous hikes in the park I was initially dismissive. Although not much harder than other hikes in the park, it wore me out more than I can remember and I have done the majority of the hikes in SNP. Rocky terrain along with some steep and monotonous uphill climbs made this hike very tiring. We completed the hike in 5 1/2 hours. Walking on the rock slides which were ever present in the beginning is not one of my favorite things took away from the hike. The side trail to the peak about halfway through the hike was worth the effort and it was enjoyable to reach this nice rock outcropping that I didn't expect at all. This is a good workout but not greatly different than other hikes in the area. The Blackrock area was nice but I had previously seen that when doing the Trayfoot mountain loop.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 03, 2010
Did the hike in 6 hours with more than 30 minutes of breaks. The sections of scree/talus and the steep descents made for a good work-out! Personally, I thought the west-facing view of the farmlands on the approach to the Furnace Mountain summit was nicer than north-east facing overlook at the actual summit.

There is a picnic area and 2-3 additional trail intersections around the Black Rock summit area that are not mentioned in the route description that gave me pause. I thought the picnic area was the parking area mentioned in the route description. Follow the arrows on the trail markers and you'll be fine. If I recall correctly, you just keep taking the left fork.

After you cross Skyline drive, the trail resumes about 300 feet to your left.

And don't be confused by the Dundo campground (also not mentioned in the route description, but visible on Google's topo map). It's about .6 miles from the end of the trail and at first I thought that was the area where I parked.

By: Sam and Thunder Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 15, 2009
I did this hike on a warm and clear day for November and had a great time.  I kept a pretty good pace and took a few short breaks since the Skyline Drive closes at dark.  It took me 6 hours, but I wish I had spent more time taking in the scenery this trail provides.  I'd recommend hiking boots and poles for this one.  Great workout and on this clear day some great views.  I recommend this trail,just allow enough time and remember that it gets better after you get up Furnace Mountain.

By: Andrew Tucker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 07, 2009
Since the high for the day was above 60, and we had just come out of a stretch of days when the temperature did not top freezing, I decided that it was high time for a hike. On this day, I simple started on the Trayfoot mountain trail, following it for 3.4 mi until the Furnace Mountain Summit trail branched off. After another 0.5 mi jaunt, we had reached the summit. At the summit, there was a great view of Austin Mountain, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Massanutten Mountain in the distance. I found this trail to be quite enjoyable. It's approximately 4 mi to the summit, for a round trip of 8 mi. It is pretty much all uphill to the top - no reprieves. This, however, is not as strenuous as Austin Mountain, so it seemed easy. The round trip took about 2.5-3 hours, but we didn't take many breaks at all, except for at the summit and one other point where were some nice boulders (on the Furnace Mtn. Summit trail) to climb and play around on. I highly recommend this trip for able bodied people who enjoy a nice hike.

By: Greg and Pearlly Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 08, 2008
This was our first hike in the SNP (we did Old Rag the next day). We stayed in the Big Meadow campgrounds (the only ones open this time of year), and were surprised by the number of other campers there. By Saturday night all the sites were full, so our advice is to get there early. But about the hike: it's very vigorous, but there are great payoffs along the way with spectacular views. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions since this hike switches between trails several times along the way. However, we never had any trouble finding the right way to go and the trails were well marked the whole way. We ran into about 25 other hikers along the way and everyone was very friendly. Late fall seems to be an ideal time of year for this one there is still plenty of color on the leaves and the temperature is nice and cool.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2008

My trail experience is much like Blueridgetreks reviewer.  Did the full loop starting at Browns Gap and going in the direction of the Austin Mtn.  Temps were  around 45-50 degrees so with it being cooler, didn't use up my 2 litre camelpak of water.  Fall colors were definitely showing and it was a great endurance hike which I did in 6 hours.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 14, 2008
The climb up Furnace Mtn was quite tough indeed, even on a moderately hot day . Next time I'll hike it in the opposite direction. Madison Run is a good place to wash up, relax and look at the butterflies.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hooked up with Hikingupward to do this hike. This is a tough day hike and I am glad we had more agreeable temps than did MRHyker and his group. Even with lower temps we drank a lot of water especially on the 4-5 miles of constant up on the Furnace Mtn Trail. There are some wild rock slides on the Austin Mtn trail, great views looking back to Austin Mtn on the Furnace Mtn Spur trail (Probably the best view on the hike), and then to top it off about 2 miles from the end - the weird rock formations of Blackrock Mtn. For those of you into Geo-caching, Hikingupward placed a Hiking Pole on this hike that is free for the taking if you can find it.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 06, 2008

I lead a Sierra Club Group on this circuit with a heat index of 105 degrees. It kicked my butt but I still consider it to be one of the best hikes in SNP especiially when you're looking for ruggedness and a real wilderness experience. The diminished views from the haze were made up for by the lush bloom of the Mountain Laurel. At times we were walking through tunnels of their white and pink flowers.

Tips: If you usually carry 2 liters of water on hard treks take 4 on this one ... or a filter to replen at Madison Run.

Try to save some gas for a rock scramble to the top of Blackrock for a panoramic view.

Prime Mountain Laurel bloom is around the first week of June.

Watch out for ticks. The SNP is loaded with them.


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