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Hiker Comments for the Duncan Knob Hollow Hike - 1 to 47 of 47   
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 21, 2019
Like the previous reviewer, my son and I went into this hike with the intention of doing the loop as it is outlined, but ended up turning back. The hike to the blue/orange intersection wasn't terrible except for the hordes of gnats and flies that wouldn't leave us alone no matter how much repellent we used. We brought some empty bottles for water because we knew once we reached the campsites near Duncan's Knob we wouldn't have a water source. We loaded up on water at the intersection and started up the hill. I'm not in great shape, but not terrible shape either, and that 0.8 mile was the toughest hiking I've ever done. Extremely rocky, and overgrown in places to the point that you can't see the rocks that you're putting your feet on. Add the relentless gnats and flies, and you don't have the makings for a fun weekend backpacking trip. When we finally reached the campsite, we rested for while and had lunch, then decided to do the extra 1/4 mile up to Duncan's Knob. Please, for your own safety, read the next part carefully. The trail to the knob is completely unmarked. The trail is well worn, but once you reach the edge of the boulder field, the trail stops. My son and I went up and did the rock scramble, checked out the view and when we came back down we could not find the trail. We were bushwhacking in the general direction of our campsite, but I realized that we could easily miss the campsite and end up very lost with no food or shelter, and very little water. We made our way back to the knob, and after about an hour of searching, we finally found the trail. Again, there are exactly ZERO trail markings up to the knob, so drop a pin on your GPS, build cairns as you go, drop breadcrumbs, whatever you have to do to keep yourself safe. After all this, we were low on water again, and with no other water source ahead of us on the loop, we decided to camp and then the next morning go back the way we came in. This trail is definitely at least a 4 difficulty. It might be better in the fall or winter when the bugs aren't an issue, but I can't imagine how bad the rocky trail would be if there was any ice.

By: Laura Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 20, 2019
My friend and I had intentions to hike this trail as laid out in the description. The trail is very rocky so I recommend sturdy shoes with good ankle support. We did not see anyone else on the trail until we were hiking back out and were almost to the trailhead so the solitude on the trial was fantastic. The trail is very overgrown, and there were a few portions where we briefly thought we had gotten off trail because the brush was so dense I recommend wearing long pants. The stream that runs along the trail was bone dry up until the point where the orange trail meets up with the blue trail near the third campsite (~3.8 miles from trailhead according to my GPS). According to other reviews, this is the last point to gather water along the trail. The stream was barely flowing but it was thankfully enough to gather water for filtering. We turned right onto the blue trail which was rocky and steep, but doable. We camped at the multi-tent site where the blue trail met up with the white trail and it was pretty nice. After we set up camp, we tried to make it all the way up to Duncan Knob but stopped just short of the summit. Even though our backpacks were mostly empty at this point, the large mass on our backs made the rock scramble a little more challenging than we were comfortable with. Although I think it would be completely fine if we were only wearing daypacks.
There were lots of spiderwebs across the trail which was super annoying to keep walking through, but even worse were the gnats and flies that swarmed us relentlessly. Thankfully I don't think they were biting, but we had to keep swatting them away to keep them out of our faces. Our campsite was slightly better, but after dinner, we pretty much stayed in the tent to avoid the bugs. The next morning we realized that we didn't have enough water to feel comfortable hiking the rest of the loop, so we decided to just hike back to the car from the way we came. Although even if we had enough water, I think the bugs alone would have pushed us to altering our trip back to the car. I swear the swarming bugs were even worse on the way back to the car. It was like a giant sigh of relief when we exited the trail and the bugs suddenly left us alone. The only way I would attempt this hike again would be in winter when hopefully the bugs aren't as bad.

By: Schnitzel Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 26, 2018
El Hefe and I decided to make the trek knowing the forecast called for wet. No cars were present at the trailhead at around 1pm where we debated about and then parked off the road at the horse trailer / hiking parking (past the gate) -- no problems with the vehicle upon our return. We hiked in and found many of the creeks we walked across as dry. Came across the Spring which is almost in the middle of the trail. We camped shortly before the trail that leads to the right up to Duncan's Knob. We found the very nice stone seats (and a bear bag line) which would be great for use by a large group. A very nice creek runs to left of this site -- note: the tent spaces are packed hard (as they often are) and once the rain began, a very good amount of water found itself right beneath my tarp and tyvek -- lesson learned. The next day's hike up to Duncan's Knob and the saddle was tough but not too difficult. Once on the saddle there are several additional sites beyond those listed on the map -- however no water. I expect the wind would whistle across this area given the right conditions. The scramble over granite at the top added to the challenge and getting down requires some careful descending -- look for the cairns. Determined, we hiked out to the trailhead the same day completing the loop and then heading back to the car. Arrival at approximately 6pm found all parking spots filled alongside the road -- but no others where we left the car. Overall, the trail was wet, well marked, and relatively level except for the climb up to and over the ridge near Duncan's Knob. A great two day hike although if you choose to stay two nights, the second night looks to very similar to where one stays the first night.

By: Sara G. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2018
A nice hike but VERY wet after this extraordinarily rainy summer! The stream was swift but relatively easy to cross the trail was passable but muddy and full of puddles and on the second day (after a night of rain) the trail was basically a stream the whole way back to the road. We were prepared and had a lot of fun with it!

We did this as a front-loaded overnight, hiking into the "best" campsite at the blue/orange fork with the rock couch (~3 miles) and setting up camp. This site was great and fit 2-2 person tents, a 1-person tent and a hammock. There were other spots that were too soggy for tents but could work in drier weather! Obviously good access to water as you have to cross the stream to get to the site a little tricky to find a suitable tree for the bear hang but we got it.

After setting up camp we hiked the long way up to the Knob (continuing on the orange to the yellow to the blue - opposite direction as the arrows show on the map) which was your typical GWNF walk in the woods. The actual knob is a fun rock scramble with lovely views and then it was a quick walk down the hill back to camp for dinner! We'd recommend doing the loop in this direction as it's never that steep of an ascent and it makes for a short day 2.

By: Tearz for Gearz Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 31, 2018
This was a phenomenal overnight! This past weekend was the best weather in months and my girlfriend and I did Duncan Knob Hollow/Strickler Knob as a first backpack together. Our basic plan was to walk to the second campsites (where the blue blazes depart), drop our tent/gear there, then do the Duncan knob and Strickler knob as two out-and-backs, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

We ended up stuck behind a large group for the first 3-4 miles into the trail. This part of the hike is beautiful. Flat, easy, with the stream babbling by just steps away in case you need water (which you shouldn't, you've just started hiking). The large group ended up taking the first, larger of the two campsites near the blue blaze fork (the third campsite marked on the map). That ended up being a blessing: we continued on to the second, smaller campsite which was fantastic! Space for two, maybe three tents, a cute fire-pit and easy creek access.

We decided to drop our tent/sleeping bags at the campsite and hike Stricklers. In retrospect, definitely the right move. The trail basically climbs uninterrupted for the next three miles, so having lighter packs helped. Note: you quickly climb away from the creek, which is the only source of water on this hike (to my knowledge). Make sure your bottles are full! There were a half-dozen trees fallen across the trail on the way up -- but then again this is national forest so you get what you pay for! After summiting the ridge, we clambered out onto Stricklers, getting distracted along the way by smaller gorgeous rock outcroppings. Push all the way to the end if you can. A decent rock clamber at the very end, but VERY much worth it. The views are just stunning.

Overall, our milage was around 10 on day one. After sharing our campsite with a exceptionally lovely couple (thank for the company Elisha and Jim!) we slept like logs on our bed of moss.

Sunday, we hiked up to Duncan knob. This was much shorter, but a MUCH steeper ascent. It's about a mile of straight climbing up the side of the ridge. There's campgrounds up on the ridge but you'd have to hump your water all the way up. Didn't look pleasant to us but maybe some of you lunatics would enjoy waking up to sunrise on the ridge.

The Duncan knob path is much shorter than Stricklers, maybe half the length, but the rock scramble is twice as long and more vertical. Again, fantastic views and a great backdrop for lunch. Since we got going late on Sunday, we figured rather then hiking the full loop, we'd just hike back out the way we came. A lovely decent and four-or-so miles later we were back at our car. Which we immediately drove to Hawksbill Brewery for some post-hike hydration.

Overall, lovely two day trip! Great summits, varied terrain, not too strenuous. Options for shorter/longer hikes. We're planning on bringing friends back in the summer/fall.

By: Diego S Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 16, 2017
Did this as an overnighter but only an out & back to the knob, omitting the loop portion of the trail. Camped at one of the sites on the white spur trail just below the rocks.

The stream was still good to draw from in multiple locations even this time of year. The best points were around 3 miles in (by the good campsites). There is PLENTY of room for camping on the ridge. It is kind of weird being able to see all the lights from Luray from the campsites, but oh well. The views from the top of the rocks are a 5 for sure. Hopefully I can do this one again and add Strickler Knob in.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 18, 2017
This was a great hike. Did it as an overnight with a 35-40 lb pack with a buddy. The ascent was fairly brutal, 1000' of elevation gained in under .8 miles (40 lbs on your back doesn't help). The view was fantastic, the trail was fairly smooth and the creek crossings easy.

Awesome tent sites. Water could be an issue in the middle third of the hike, no streams or water on the mountain at all. We pitched camp about a mile in from the road at a small camp by the creek.

All in all this was a fantastic hike, one of the better ones in the GW.

By: Kaitlyn Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 20, 2017
An excellent overnight hike! About 3- 3.5 miles in, we found the fantastic multi-tent campsite along the Little Passage Creek, which is situated approx. 100 feet off the Massanutten Trail and includes a pre-made stone fire pit, direct access to the creek for water refills, and many tent spaces (it likely can sleep 12-14 people). We set down our gear and continued to hike the rest of the loop, circling back to our tentsite and hiked out first thing Sunday morning. The trails are extremely well maintained, though were recently drenched with a storm the day before and the trail was muddy/soggy in many parts. Overall, the terrain was flat with a moderate climb once you turned right onto blue-blazed Gap Creek Trail from Massanutten to begin the loop (certainly enough of a climb to break a good sweat!). This is a lovely little trail through the lush forest and includes a nice scenic outlook (and great place to catch a breeze) half-way through the hike. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for fresh air, scenery, and a moderate (i.e, not too strenuous) hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 21, 2016
This was a great day-hike, and I can see how it would make a very good overnight trip as well. I started at Route 675 near Camp Roosevelt & kept on the Massanutten Trail past the intersection with the Gap Creek Trail. At the top of the ridge, I would recommend taking the side trip to Strickler Knob, which is green blazed trail that ends in a short rock scramble and one of the best views in the area. It added about an hour to my hike, but I did some socializing once I got out to the knob. The Scothorn Gap trail is very nice, although it looks like it could get quite soupy at certain times of the year. The climb up on the Gap Creek Trail is much less strenuous from the west side than from the east side, one reason why I would suggest doing this loop clockwise (rather than counter-clockwise, as suggested in the description). The scramble up to Duncan Knob is a bit of a free for all, with a few white blazes giving way to cairns. I didn't have any close calls, but the nature of the rocks made me the slightest bit nervous, since I was by myself and light was fading. However, I made it up and down no problem. Overall, the hike took me a little over 6.5 hours and included the side trip to Strickler Knob and a few substantial breaks. I hope to go back some time and try out one of the many campsites.

By: RPADC Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Did this one as an overnight with myself and the mutt. Fall colors and weather were perfect. That's my favorite time of year for overnight hikes. In summer, I only car camp and day hike. Too hot and buggy.

We got a late start so we camped along the east bank of Little Passage Creek across from the right turn onto the Gap Creek trail. Easy water refilling access, big fire ring and stone seats made this a good choice.

We had more miles to cover on the 2nd day but the climbs were rewarded with great views.

I've got a strong, athletic and nimble pitbull but we didn't venture far onto the rock scramble that leads to Duncan Knob. Went about halfway and turned back. Some reviewers noted that their canines handled it but I felt it was unsafe. Overall, lovely hike and I would return.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2016
I would give this hike a 2 out of 5 rating in terms of difficulty. 95% of this hike is pretty easy and along plain easy terrain, with the other 5% comprising of the "steepest" 0.8 miles (it is not steep at all) and the rock scramble. A few tips/FYI: 1) I was confused where to start the hike, and it wasn't really clear from the HU instructions, but luckily I was on the correct trail. Start the trail along the said parking coordinates. If parking is full, you may park in the trail/horse parking ground, located about 100 yards on the left (through the white gate). This is the same parking for kennedy peak. 2) Avoid doing this hike during and even a few days after it rains. Space it out by at least 4-5 days. Your shoes WILL get wet especially when you cross the third creek. Even along the entire length of the trail, several areas are muddy and difficult to spot especially with the fallen leaves covering the trail path. 3) Pay attention to the white blazed trail to the duncan knob as soon as you get to the multi-tent camp site. I missed it and kept going down, following the blue blazed trail markers in hopes of finding the white blaze (any second now) and ended up at the intersection of the yellow blazed trail, only to realize I had missed it and had to go all the way back. Luckily the distance is only about 0.2 miles max (on-way) but I still wasted time. 4) It is mentioned that the trail blaze is hard to spot during the rock scramble which is true. Going up isn't much of a problem since you can easily see where the vista peak is. However coming down was tough- especially since it was extremely windy and chilly today. Wind was a huge issue for me since I am 5'6" and weigh 110 lbs so easily knocked out by strong gusts. My fingers were totally numb as I was trying to find my way back.. Make sure you stick to the left coming down as that's where the trail is. I completed my hike in 6.5 hours (including a cumulative 15 minutes break, and the 10 minutes lost due to my error in missing the trail). But my gps logged only 11.2 miles instead of 13 miles. I saw quite a few other hikers and a couple of camping groups. The view from the Duncan Knob is amazing! Leaves have started to change color and you can see the different shades across all the mountains from the top. I would've spent more time at the top had it not been so chilly and windy. Overall a good hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 5, 2016
Hiked with my girlfriend. We took the trail to Stricklers Knob and doubled back omitting Duncans Knob. My girlfriend and I run about 20 miles a week and this hike really wore us down towards the end. Be wary of the excessive amount of gnats and flys which tainted our experience. I want to come back in Fall or Spring before the bugs are everywhere. It's best to hike this in pants because many areas of the trail are overgrown with thorn bushes. We really enjoyed this hike just bring plenty of water.

By: Renee Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 26, 2016
Camped overnight and stayed at the campsite across the orange/blue intersection (across the creek). We've never seen so many ticks!! It's fairly common for us to pick up one or two but we each had several and have picked about 20 off of our dog. Due to recent rains, it's a bit muddy. I hiked in my chacos part of the time and then switched back into boots. Ticks and mud aside, the hike up to Duncan's Knob was steep but short, great work out. The rock scramble was a little tough for our 4 year lab, made him a little nervous but the top was totally worth it. Great hiking and camping - we didn't do the whole loop, came back down blue the way we came after Duncan's Knob. Ran into about a 4 foot rattler on the trail on our way back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 5, 2015
Great hike and incredible view from the top. I just wanted to drop a note on here for owners of large dogs that the final scramble to the top might be a bit much for the pooch depending on size and weight. I have a Bernese Mountain Dog and had to lift her most of the way up the final scramble and coming back down was also challenging.

For a lighter more agile breed like a lab or such it would likely be fine.

Just FYI.

Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred for hauling milk carts around dairy farms in the swiss alps but aren't great at actual rock climbing.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 5, 2015
Overall a pretty good hike. The views atop the knob were great and the campsite was excellent. I hiked with myself, my dog and my friend. We front loaded the trip and hiked the full loop back to the intersection of the blue and orange trails where we camped at the campsite across the river. The hike itself is not too difficult. Turning uphill from blue to orange is the most difficult part of the hike, but it's nothing too strenuous. The rock scramble to the top of the knob was fun. My dog had a hell of a time getting up it, but the view at the top is 100% worth it. After that it's a nice stroll through the woods to an intersection with orange where you ascend one last time then descend to the campsites. Unless you're like us and you bomb through the orange/yellow intersection and hike the wrong direction downhill for 45 minutes until you realize your mistake. That hour walk back uphill gives you plenty of time to appreciate the merits of looking at your map when you come to a trail junction. Camping was great. The site we chose is the one with the stone fire pit and chairs. Nice and secluded and right by the stream. Nothing negative. There were a good bit of people on the trail including day hikers, backpackers and guys running bear with dogs. I would prefer a little more solitude overall but I would not call it a crowded hike. In the 7 hours of hiking the first day we probably saw 6 groups of people.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 27, 2015
I took my dog out for an overnight trip on what seemed to be the last warmer weekend of the year. I only saw three small groups of people, one of which was camping at the campsite about a quarter mile away. With all the leaves on the ground, the hike up the blue trail to the top of the hill was pretty slippery. Also, there was a small pool of water 5-10 yards to the left of the trail before you reach the last multi-tent site that my dog found.

Lastly, there is a designated trail/horse trailer parking opposite of the trail head. Overall it is a good hike because it is almost empty with plenty of good campsites.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 14, 2015
I did a hybrid of Duncan Knob Hollow and Strickler Knob together for this review. Instead of turning right on the blue blazed Gap Creek trail, I continued straight on the Massanutten until it intersected the pink/red blazed Strickler Knob trail. I'll review Strickler Knob on it's own page, but I did hike out and back and it was great. I then continued on the Massanutten until it connected with the yellow blazed Scothorn trail, and followed it until it met back up with the blue Gap Creek.

Notes on the Trail. Overall there were some very boggy wet sections, so know that you might be getting your feet wet/muddy. All of the trails are very well marked with the exception of the blue Gap Creek from the intersection with the white Duncan Knob to where it intersects the Massanutten back on the valley floor. The combination of leaf fall, rocks, very faded blazes, and switchbacks that have been washed out repeatedly make this section of the trail tricky. At some points the trail seems to just disappear. Also know, you will be scrambling up Duncan Knob on the rock slide portion, since there is no clearly marked trail up to the summit. If you have issues heights, I would avoid this section.

Overall this was a fantastic hike and the distance, ended up being 15 miles, was very manageable. I'll definitely be heading back out to do some camping here. Plenty of great camping sites.

By: Gaspar Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 10, 2015
Hiked this trail with my girlfriend on October 10th, 2015.

Not too much to say about this hike. For a 13 mile hike, we found it to be surprisingly easy. The elevation gain was gradual and subtle, and aside from the steep descent before a relaxed final 5 miles of the hike, there was nothing too strenuous. The rock scramble was enjoyable, but not difficult. Instead of a set path with climbing and traversing chasms (such as Old Rag), you get the opportunity to choose your own path up the mountain, climbing a variety of smaller rocks. Watch your footing, as these rocks are small enough that some may move under you. The summit gave a great view of the area.

For an added bit of fun (and even better view in my opinion), consider adding the Strickler Knob Trail (Pink blazed, marked by plastic and paint) to this hike. There is no sign for the trail, simply a plastic disc nailed to a tree ~12 feet up. It is located off of the Massanutted trail, at the top of the ridge just before the downward switchbacks toward the end of the hike. It is 1.4 miles in total (out and back) and involves a more strenuous and significant section of scrambling (difficulty somewhere between Duncan Knob Hollow and Old Rag). It is easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled. We went on the Strickler Knob Hike the next day and didn't realize the overlap until we found the Scothorn Gap/Massanutten intersection.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 22, 2015
I've done this hike as an overnight backpacking trip multiple times (March 2015, May 2015, August 2015). In March there was plentiful water due to the spring thaw. May also saw plentiful water, however, this past weekend in August there was very little water to be found along the trail. I would recommend that anyone who is planning on camping in any of the built-up campsites bring enough water to satisfy their needs in case there is none to be had in the woods.

Members of my group and I have seen rattlesnakes along the trail in May and August, so watch your step. In both instances, they were very close to the trail (less than two feet off the path) and did not start to rattle until after several of our party had walked by. Gnats were a minor annoyance hiking in, but largely disappear once you get a fire going.

I've camped at the larger multi-tent campsite and have never had an issue with bears.

Duncan Knob is a nice rock scramble but not terribly difficult. The top of the Knob has a large flat surface that's great for a quick yoga routine before heading back down the hill. If you're camping on top of the Knob, be sure to bring water with you since there's none to be had up there. There are two or three fire rings there, but the last time I was on the Knob I didn't see too much in the way of spare wood.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2015
We had a great weekend backpacking! The Southeastern portion of the trail is a bit overgrown with black berry bushes. It made headway a bit difficult, due to the abundance of thorns. At least the berries were in season. The black berries also attracted bears. The trail was littered in fresh black bear scat, and a number of other hikers said they'd seen bears. Speaking of things that go bump in the night, one member of our group nearly stepped on a timber rattlesnake on the trail leading up to the knob. Watch out.

The views from the top are some of the best in the area. If you camp up top, be sure to fill up on water.

By: Kevin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2014
My wife and I did this hike for the first time with our pup. We had beautiful weather and the trees were pretty much in full color. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a much more popular hike than we expected, which forced us to take one of the last camp spots up on the ridge near the knob. It was a pretty exposed site just feet from the trail which did not offer much protection from the wind coming over the ridge. I was actually surprised how close most of the campsites were to the trail. Besides the camping situation, the hike itself was great with some really nice views. The rock scramble up to the top of Duncan Knob was fun. I would recommend this hike to others, just don't expect to be the only ones out there on one of the last beautiful weekends of fall :)

By: Dea Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 27, 2014
I did a portion of this hike with some friends on September 27th. As we didn't complete the hike, I can't rate it fairly or accurately (so please neglect the stars I gave it). However, I did want to warn fellow hikers about a yellow jacket nest that is on the ground right on the edge of the trail. It is approximately 1 mile past the second campsite. They didn't sting any members of my party but if you have an bee allergy you might want to wait until cooler weather for this hike.

On a positive note, the quantity of campsites made the hike seem much more private than it actually was. We encountered 5 other parties on the trail, one of which being fairly large, and never once felt crowded. We had the third campsite completely to ourselves and passed our time largely undisturbed by other folks.

By: Jack Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 2, 2014
I was also overwhelmed by gnats and tiny flys despite the thick layer of DEET and bug spray I applied multiple times. A strong breeze at the top of the mountain helped a little bit, but I think I'll wait until after bug season to try this one again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 31, 2013
Like the previous commenter I was joined by a thick cloud of gnats about 10 minutes into my journey, but I think that's probably my fault for backpacking in late August! The trail itself was great. Well-marked, plenty of water sources in the first few miles to the base of Catback Mountain, and the campsite on top near the overlook was expansive and well-appointed. It almost felt too easy!

Rather than park on the right side of the road next to the trail sign, hang a left onto the unpaved path with the open gate and the small wooden structure. That leads directly to a large parking area that's only 50 yards off the road but totally out of the sight of passers-by.

By: Fella Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 10, 2013
Not a bad hike, but ended up turning around and huffing it out due to the overwhelming gnats/flies. Despite spraying myself down with deet and starting a fire to create a smoke diversion, nothing helped. Total swarms! Otherwise, the two camp spots near the blue blazed Gap Creek Trail were pretty nice. Big stone fire ring and stone seats surrounding. The first site was better for larger groups and tents, while the second site looked less comfortable and could only accommodate 2-3 two person tents. I would like to try this one again after the bug season.

By: Louis Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 2, 2013
I took my daughter, neighbor, and her son on this hike as our first ever winter backpacking trip. The hike from the TH to Duncan Knob is almost completely flooded out. Rivers of water and ice, flow down the trail like it was a small creek. This section of the trail is in need of some maintenance to better move some water off the trail and down into the real creek. It was a beautiful hike and the campsites were wonderful. Views from the top in the winter are spectacular! Our hike was cut short by a gear malfunction.. 1/2 way up the climb to Duncan Knob the soles on my boots just fell off. We're guessing whatever glue they used was not ready for the cold temps, I've had the boots for a few years with light use mostly in summer. The 4 mile hike back to the truck the next day barefoot(2 pairs of wool socks and the boot liner ) was 'interesting' with a fresh coating of snow.

We loved the hike and plan to do it again in the spring. Still not sure about this whole winter camping thing though.

By: Zrad Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 20, 2013
We used this hike as an opportunity to shake out some new winter backpacking gear by turning it into an overnight. The multiple campsites gave us plenty of options and, at this time of year, we didn't have any competition for the best sites. The walk up Duncan Hollow was flat and easy and the climbs were not bad. We enjoyed the Winter solitude. The rock scramble up to Duncan's Knob was the highlight of the trip for my son and the views were impressive. This was a fun and memorable hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 5, 2012
This was a 13 mile hike in which we added 3 miles to this trail, totaling 16 miles and it took us 8 hours to complete. We parked in the back lot and walked up to the shed that was on the right, if you follow the trail as directed by the Hiking Upward site then you would cross the street and follow the trail to the right. We turned left at the shed instead, and headed up the mountain towards Edith Gap which is one mile away we then turned around and continued the trail as described by HU. The trail is very easy to read and had some really cool campsites. The Duncan Gap Overlook and rock scramble is the best part of the entire hike. We didn&rsquot follow any blazes during the rock scramble and navigated our way to the top and then again back down.  When the yellow blaze trail and orange blaze trail intersect, we followed the yellow blaze trail down a half mile towards the Crisman Hollow Road Parking Lot to add distance then turned around and followed the trail back to the intersection and continued the rest of the trail back. After we crossed the footbridge again we found an unmarked side trail that lead to some old ruins, camping areas, and some other neat features around the Camp Roosevelt Recreational Area. Solitude was great only ran into about 15 other hiker/campers for all 16 miles. Great hike and great workout!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 5, 2012
This was a 13 mile hike in which we added 3 miles to this trail, totaling 16 miles and it took us 8 hours to complete. We parked in the back lot and walked up to the shed that was on the right, if you follow the trail as directed by the Hiking Upward site then you would cross the street and follow the trail to the right. We turned left at the shed instead, and headed up the mountain towards Edith Gap which is one mile away we then turned around and continued the trail as described by HU. The trail is very easy to read and had some really cool campsites. The Duncan Gap Overlook and rock scramble is the best part of the entire hike.We didn&rsquot follow any blazes during the rock scramble and navigated our way to the top and then again back down. When the yellow blaze trail and orange blaze trail intersect, we followed the yellow blaze trail down a half mile towards the Crisman Hollow Road Parking Lot to add distance then turned around and followed the trail back to the intersection and continued the rest of the trail back. After we crossed the footbridge again we found an unmarked side trail that lead to some old ruins, camping areas, and some other neat features around the Camp Roosevelt Recreational Area.Solitude was great only ran into about 15 other hiker/campers for all 16 miles.Great hike and great workout!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 5, 2012
I did this hike as my first ever backpacking trip. I can say as a beginner backpacker and hiker that this was fantastic. I hit trail head 4:30 in the afternoon not sure on the distance I hustled to the third campsite. This is a awesome spot but it was too big for just myself. I took a short pause here and rolled up to the campsite just before the rock scramble. There are actually three sites here. Also one at the top. Beautiful sunset here. Woke up wanting to catch the sunrise well being unfamiliar with the rock scramble I didn't make it to the top in time. Had to wait for light to find may way up couldn't see the blaze on the rocks and went to far to the right. :( beautiful views from the top. Don't be scared of the scrambles just take your time it is so worth it. After breaking down camp headed for gap creek finding Strickler knob trail I decided why not. Well worth it. The rest of the trail was just a stroll in the woods back to the truck. My pack weight was a little heavy for a beginner so if i can do it I recommend most to do it. Thanks Hiking upward for the great site leading me to new adventures in my life.

By: Elyse Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 1, 2011
This was a great location for beginner backpacking. It is very secluded, yet moderately close to civilization in case of an emergency. If you do not want to carry your gear all the way to the top, there are several campsites well within 30 minutes hike of the camping area.

Getting there and parking: When arriving at the trail head from the North (Rt. 66, Front Royal, etc), you first pass the Roosevelt Camp recreation area sign on the left. If you keep going, you'll find the Massanutten trail head on the right (note, the parking picture was taking from the opposite direction, facing north). If you then continue a few more yards up the hill, you will come to the camping area parking lot (gravel) on the left. Coming out of this lot, you will see an alternate entrance to the orange-blazed Massanutten trail continuing uphill to the left (north-bound). Return to the Massanutten trail head sign across the road to catch the south-bound trail, which will take you to Duncan Knob Hollow. Google directions are a little confusing (as previously noted) towards the end of this trip. It doesn't much matter whether you stay straight or turn left, both 678 (Fort Valley Road) and 675 (Camp Roosevelt Road) will take you to the same location as long as you continue to head south. Go compass!

The hike: We started at 11:30 AM, and reached the summit of the white trail a little after 2:00 PM, stopping for a 15 minute lunch. The first 3.1 miles (from the beginning of the hike to the intersection of the orange and blue trails) is very tame. I would put it at a 1.5 on the difficulty scale. There are some loose rocks and a bit of mud, but for the most part it's pretty flat with some stream crossings. We easily completed this section in 1.5 hrs. The blue blazed section is decidedly harder, and includes four switchbacks. Despite some downed trees due to recent storms (and earth quake?), the trail is still very well kept and intact. It took us a full hour to complete the last mile of the hike. The top of the blue blazed trail has some beautiful hill-top campsites. The wild flowers were in full bloom.

Scramble: The white portion of the trail looks intimidating, but it's actually not too bad. At first we thought we should circle to the left, because there was an abandoned reflective tarp located there however, it's much easier to go straight up. Watch out for loose rocks make sure you test them with your feet before hoisting yourself up. Also, I found my fingerless gloves were invaluable during this portion!

Camping: We ended up leaving all of our overnight gear in the car during this hike, and only carting it out to the campsite afterwards. We used the first campsite, located almost exactly 100 yards down the trail from the trail head on the right side when you're heading southwest. There is a skinny tree stump marking the turn. This site has a great fire pit with nice flat stones and logs around the edge, and a wooden bar up in the trees for hanging food away from the bears. When we arrived, there were no water sources in the immediate vicinity.

Next time we plan on camping at the top of Duncan Knob. Here's to hoping for some late autumn warmth!

By: ec Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2011
This was a pretty good overnight hike, and a lot more isolated than Iwas expecting given the rating on hiking upward. We only saw one other hiker on Saturday and a few hikers on Sunday as well as a couple of people on horses on the lower orange section of the trail. As someone else said, the blue section of the trail can be pretty tough if you are carrying a lot of weight (which I was - there was some redistribution between my buddy and I on Sunday morning). This was especially true because we got confused about the parking spot mentioned on the site and ended up on the wrong side of the road in a parking lot. This led us to heading uphill for about a quarter of a mile in the wrong direction on the Massanutten trail before concluding that our hike was a lot harder than the topo lines on our map were indicating!

One other thing to mention - the bugs are horrible. There were swarms of gnats and mosquitos which were completely undeterred by bug spray. Bring long sleeve shirts and pants if you are camping (also for all the thorns on the hike itself). Keep an eye out for snakes - we didn't make it to the second overlook because a huge timber rattler was hanging out on the path. I wasn't terribly keen to ask him to move.

By: Julie Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 16, 2011
Did an overnighter in the middle of the week. Took the family this time, what a great hike. The views from Duncan Knob were fantastic. We camped at the second site. I was a dissapointed at the shape the campsite had been left in. There was tinfoil and an empty pack of smokes in the fire pit, banana peels on the ground and horse crap just outside the site. Word to those that don't clean up, "Other people don't want to pick up your crap!" On the plus side, there was plenty of fresh water available. The hike out to the Knob is a trip from this site. The bugs were very bad. My son put a towel over his head which worked much better than the bug spray I was using. For anyone that plans on camping at the second site, there are a number of Whippoorwill's near this site. I thought this was just a cute little songbird. They started singing at 9pm and did not stop until 2am when the rain started. Next time I will bring ear plugs, these little birds are loud. Long and short of it, be prepared for some minor issues and this is a great hike.

By: lbryan Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 29, 2011
The Duncan Knob Hollow hike is beautiful right now. Clumps of blooming wild iris, lady slippers (quite rare!), early azaleas, wild geranium, and so many dogwoods that we stopped pointing them out. Plus the outstanding views from Duncan and Strickler Knobs if you decide to add in the 1.5-mile Strickler Knob out-and-back. Backpackers should be aware that right now there is plenty of water at the Peach Orchard Gap campsite (the big one at the intersection of the Gap Creek and Duncan Knob trails). The trail begins to get soggy about 2/3 of the way up the big incline on the way to the campsite. If you listen for it, you will hear a stream running close to the trail in at least two places at this point. When you get to the last big turn before the campsite, there's a small pond with a clear cold stream running into and out of it a short bushwhack to the left of the trail. It's no more than about 20 feet from the trail and probably less than 200 yards from the campsite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 16, 2010
Great weather for a hike over the weekend. We camped at the third site just prior to the intersection for the trail to Duncan Knob. First thing to know is hiking into this campsite is no short hike, particularly if you are packing heavy. Additionally the hike up Duncan Knob should not be taken lightly as you climb rocks to get to the top. As stated by many others the views are great once you reach the top. The campsite was great with many places to pitch tents. The water flow was ok, enough to clean, boiland wash but I recommend bringing drinking water with you. Even at this time of year the bugs were still a little problem-bring bug spray! The fire pit and seating area required a little bit of work as the fire only seemed to heat the trees. We dug the pit out and cleared the area between the pit and stone seats. In the dark trying to walk around the back of the pit was dangerous because of the boulders on the ground. The seating area and pit are much more camper friendly now. There is plently ofwood in the area for burning. We did see quitea few other groups over the weekend but it was far from crowded out there. Overall it was a great weekend and a nice place to camp and hike.

By: GMP Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 1, 2010
This is a really fun hike. The trail was well marked and in great shape. We arrived a little late and camped at the 3rd tent site (2nd site on Passage Creek). The site was well off the trail, had plenty of room and an endless supply of water from Passage Creek. The next morning we hiked the Duncan Knob loop. The views from the knob were amazing. The scramble was a little tricky, but nothing too technical. A few quick notes: 1) I'd rate solitude a 5 -- overnight Fri. and Sat. we saw only 1 other group 2) The 4th tent site (3rd on Passage Creek) at the intersection of the Massanutten and Gap Creek trails has water nearby -- this was a little unclear to us trekking in and I thought it would be good to clarify this for others planning the hike.

Thanks HikingUpward for cataloging these great trails. Funny - we met a couple on the Knob who discovered it through too!

By: Mark Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 10, 2010
This was a great hike. Unfortunately, I could not finish it because of the bugs! Hikers who attempt this hike in July should be sure to bring plenty of Deet and a hat with a net. I did not see one other hiker or even any footprints the whole day while I was on this hike. There were some horse droppings on the trail, but overall I thought this was a fantastic get away. It's also worth mentioning that the roads leading to the trailhead are a bit tricky. (Some of the roads in Luray are not very well labeled.)

By: Dogmama Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Great hike! We camped at the first campsite for two nights which was wonderful -- plenty of room for our group (3 tents and 4 dogs) and close enough to the road that we could enjoy some of the plusher amenities we couldn't if we were backpacking (cooler, grill, etc). We saw no more than about 10 other hikers as well as a group of backpackers which was surprisingly quiet considering it was Memorial Day weekend.

By: Brandon Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 27, 2010
I did this as an overnighter Saturday night. Nothing really worth mentioning (well, it was cold), except

DIRECTIONS: If you use Google Maps for accurate directions, Google will tell you to turn off Rte 340 onto Rte 211W. That is wrong, because you CANNOT access Bixler's Ferry Rd. from Rte. 211. The CORRECT route is to keep driving south on 340 past the Rte 211 exits, then making the next right turn onto Mechanic Street (you will immediately cross a bridge). Mechanic Street becomes Bixler's Ferry Rd right before you cross Rte 211 on a bridge. This also applies to the Stephens Trail hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 31, 2009

Duncan knob was a nice hike with some challenging sections, but not too bad overall. We only saw 2 other people during our hike, and only while taking a break on the knob itself.

We had some difficulty locating the trail head following the Google Map directions from Washington, DC. They're 99% accurate, but in final 5 miles "Google" got lost. Off of Bixler's Ferry Rd (VA 684), make a left onto S. Page Valley Rd, (very quickly becomes N Egypt Bend Rd). Make the first right onto Fort Valley Rd. The trail head is in about 2-3 miles and past the "top" of the road. Hard to miss.

The campsites are nice, though the first and third (with the stone chairs) are nicest.

We parked at the trail head and camped at the first site, enduring an unexpected storm overnight. While the trail was wet in some areas, it was not in bad shape the next day. The first part of the hike along the fire road was a little dull-- fairly straight and not too much change in scenery. We did come across2 snakes right on the trail- one definitely a northern copperhead (who really didn't want to move off of the middle of the trail), and the other possibly a timber rattler, though I don't think so. Gnats were sometimes annoying, but the bugs weren't really that bad. Plenty of horse dung on the trail--so watch wear you step.

The trails are well-marked, except for the white blazes on the knob itself. But we didn't see that as too big a deal. At that point, you know where the top is, so you can navigate yourself up if you want. The view from the knob is pretty great. The blue blaze trail up to the knob is a bit steep, but not terrible. Probably the only section of the trail I would consider calling somewhat difficult.

By: misha Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 7, 2009
The views from Duncan and Stickler Knobsare spectacular. Thanks to recent trail maintenance it is easy to walk everywhere. Campsitesalongthe creek are really 5-star.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 7, 2009

This has become one of my favorite hikes in GWNF. In 2005, a friend and I hiked combinations ofthis route and the Duncan Knob hike described on this site three times in preparation for a hike to ascend the Half Dome in Yosemite - thealtitude gain and length were perfect for helping us get ready.

This year, having formed a small hikinggroup with the goal of exploring the GWNF trails, which are far-less travelled than the ones over in SNP, we are taking hikes every other month - and Hiking Upward is an excellent source of referrals.

This trail has always been well maintained and excellently marked. It followsPassage Creek a long way, and the little stream is very pleasant company. As you turn to go up to DuncanKnob, you face a pretty steep climb after thegentle incline near the creek. The ascent is not long distance wise.

Then suddenly, after passing some great campsites near the summit, you come upon a talus field near the summit. Although it's challenging, this is one of the great parts of this hike...the views from the summit are just ahead and above, and are well worth the effort.

I keep a blogabout the Shenandoah Valley and have more details on our March hike at a series of entries that begin with , if you're interested in more or photos from the hike, you can check there.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2008
We did this as a two night backpack, camping the first night up near the knob and the second night along the stream. The hike to the knob along the fire road was easy, while the short climb to the top was a bit overgrown and quite steep. We camped along the trail at the top because campsite #7 was all weeds and the fire circle was barely visible, and we couldn't find #6. We hadn't seen anyone that first day. We did see a small bear, which was nice. We went to Duncan Knob the second day and the views were awesome. Such a shame the 2006 Cardinal Fire destroyed a large amount of forest in that area. Definitely worth the effort to climb to the ridge though.

We encountered a lot of day hikers heading down the Gap Creek Trail and along Scothorn Trail. Quite a few people were heading up to Strickler Knob. The hike along Scorthorn and up the Massanutten Trail were great and fairly easy going, but the descent down into the valley was a nightmare. The fire killed a good number of trees in the area and everything is overgrown and you're exposed to the sun. We hacked through a good number of thorny bushes. I highly recommend wearing old long sleeve shirts and pants for that section. Someone really should pack a machete the next time they go down this trail! The bugs were horrible but we didn't have a problem with ticks like the previous poster had. Once we got back down to the intersection with the Gap Creek trail the bugs cleared a little and we had shade. Campsite #3 was a really nice campsite and we enjoyed listening to the stream and having nice rock chairs to relax in. The ~3mile walk back to the car was uneventful the following morning.

By: Mark and the dog Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 26, 2008
My wife took the kids to Minnesota for the weekend, so the dog and I headed to the mountains for some backpacking. We linked this trail with Stephens Trail which makes a nice weekend figure eight loop combination going through the same trailhead. A few comments about this trail. (1) It's pretty easy. Most of the trails follow old jeep roads, so they're moderately graded and pretty smooth. In fact, although I don't like to run into mountain bikers while I'm hiking, you could bike a good portion of the orange trail (at least up to the intersection with the blue trail) and all of the yellow trail. (2) Duncan's Knob has nice views, but the rock fall could be tricky to navigate with children or a dog (my 10-year-old dog wasn't too keen on hopping through the rocks.) (3) We couldn't find either of the two campsites along the white trail near Duncan Knob. The campsite at the intersection of the blue and white trails, however, is easy to find and is ok. (4) Berries. If you head back down the orange trail in July, you'll probably find tons of ripe raspberries. Even if the berries aren't ripe, you'll get torn up by bushes (if you're wearing shorts) since the trees are (depressingly) all dead, so the berry bushes are everywhere. (5) Bears (who probably love those berries.) We saw four bears in two days on this trip, including a pair of cubs which scurried off in one direction while we retreated in the other (don't want to mess with a mama bear.) That's more bears than I've seen in years of hiking, so just be aware that they're out there on this trail. (6) MOST IMPORTANTLY, BUGS. While the gnats and mosquitoes were pretty annoying, the BIG problem was TICKS. We encountered more ticks than I've seen in my entire life. They were literally dropping out of the trees onto us and our tent near our campsite up by Duncan Knob. My dog was a magnet for them, so I spent a restless night picking them off in the tent. Really, really unpleasant. So wear appropriate clothing (I didn't), bring your bugspray (I didn't), and remember to use your dog's anti-bug stuff (I didn't). Honestly, I've braved unbelievable swarms of mosquitoes in the Wind River Range, fought off black flies in Minnesota, but the ticks in this area were the worst bugs I've ever encountered. I picked about thirty of them off my dog when we got back to the car and am still finding them on her now that we're home.

By: Mark and the dog Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 26, 2008
There's a marked trail (pink blazes I think) heading south off the orange trail near the vista at the ridgeline after turning southeast off the yellow trail. It has a sign that says "Strickler Knob Trail, 1 mile, Slippery when wet" (you can see Strickler Knob on the excellent topo maps on this website.) We didn't take it, but it's worth checking out and keeping in mind when hiking this route.

By: Paul and Dawn Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 30, 2007
We were looking for good camping and some solitude and found it. The seats at the first camp site before the turn on to the blue trail are quite nice after a long day of climbing. We had perfect weather the views from Duncan's Knob were great. As is the case in much of the region, you really don't get many views during the summer, but we still had a good time.

The trails are all well marked. Most of the time the trail follows old logging trails, but only once in a while is it really wide enough to walk two abreast.

This was the weekend before 4th of July with absolutely perfect weather, yet we saw only 2 groups the first day and some horses the second. Plenty of peace and quiet.

Dawn saw a turtle!

By: Herb Wilburn Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 25, 2007

Good workout hike. Be careful looking for the turn onto the blue trail. Just before you get there, some renegade ATV(s) have cut a swath out up the hill. You know you're close to the turn and it's confusing. Your turn is about a quarter mile on down the orange trail.

I did see a black bear today, so that makes it a pretty good day.

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