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Hiker Comments for the Fridley Gap Hike - 1 to 43 of 43   
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By: Kevin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 12, 2019
My family and I did a little weekend backpacking trip to Fridley Gap. We got in late Friday evening and set up camp in the spot just above the swimming hole, which was beautiful. I ran most of the trail on Saturday morning, and then hiked to the overlook with my wife and daughter (age 4) later on in the day. Views were fantastic. We had no trouble following the trail. The only part of the description of this hike that I think was maybe off was the Solitude rating. Based on our experience, I would probably give it between a 3 and a 4. We probably saw about two dozen people go by on Saturday and maybe a dozen more before lunch time on Sunday. Not terrible, but less secluded than we were looking for.

By: Emily Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 29, 2019
We found this hike to be incredibly challenging to navigate, particularly through the first 1.5 miles of the orange trail past the swimming hole. The trail was non-existent at points, with few markings - most were in the form of orange tape rather than tree marks, and the tape had worn off at points or wasn't visible. Our guess was that the trail was either being sunsetted or simply not maintained. Even the slightly-worn parts were overgrown and difficult to make out. It took us an hour and a half to navigate the woods and make it to the first switchback, at which point the trail unfolded as described in the directions.

The last turnoff on the purple trail goes directly up and over the mountain, and proved challenging to climb and then descend, as other reviewers have noted. Overall, we would return to Fridley Gap but more to enjoy the swimming hole and the several campsites along the water. The hike did not feel like it was worth repeating or trying to navigate again, unless the trail maintenance improved.

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 16, 2019
A mixed bag...

We found the 1st 5 miles of this hike to be one of our favorites. The hike up Mountain Run (past the swimming hole) was great . Due to recent heavy rains, the water was really flowing. The 1st crossing of Fridley Run was an adventure (with an big assist to a fallen log across the run). The hike up 4th Mountain on the Massanutten Trail was a bit of a slog albeit a fairly consistent grade. The overlook was an excellent place for an early lunch stop.

The second crossing of Fridley Run was far less adventuresome and we breezed up the 1st ascent of 3rd Mountain to reach the purple-blazed Fridley Gap Trail. That trail (road) was pleasant enough until we reached the junction of the blue-blazed Martin Bottom Trail, 1.5 miles from home. From there, you ascend 3rd Mountain again and then descend back to the Massanutten Trail to close the loop.

That 1.5 miles was tough: The 2nd ascent of 3rd Mountain was no picnic - steep and rocky. But it was a tiptoe thru the tulips compared to the descent. It was steep, rocky and rather unpleasant. Good place to turn an ankle. We were glad to reach the bottom.

All in all, a 4-star hike right up to the final 1.5 miles The terrain beyond that point, perhaps impacted a bit by runoff from the earlier rains, lowered our overall rating to a 3-star. All of the trails were well-blazed and the HU map (and descriptions) were spot on. Glad we did the hike as the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. Just save your energy for that 1.5 mile home stretch!

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 1, 2018
Awesome hike. Hiked up to the top of orange trail and stayed their overnight. The campsite is right next to a decent overlook. Would recommend for backpacking.

By: Kris Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 15, 2018
We were searching for a hike near New Market that would not take too long as we were short on time. We started out at the entrance off Airey Road and LOVED the hike along the water. So many beautiful waterfall pictures especially since we've had a lot of rain and the water was really flowing. The trail was very well marked and we followed the directions from this site and had no problems staying on the trail. It got rather strenuous after crossing the water and heading up the mountain. Just had to take breaks to let the heart rate come down now and then. But we were determined to make it to the lookout. And we did! It was worth it. We sat up on the rock and had our lunch. Amazing! We decided to hike back down the same way we came as we had someplace to be and didn't think we had enough time to do the whole loop. Next time we will do the whole thing. The downhill is hard on the toes and knees. We ended up doing just under 5 miles with different cutoffs for pictures, etc. We saw a total of 5 other people on the trail which is a nice change from some of the other populated trails in the area. Just be careful on all the big rocks - very easy to twist an ankle. Hiking boots and a stick would be beneficial.

By: Mac Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 21, 2017
We did this hike as directed in about 4.5 hours, with some longish breaks at the little overlook spur and other spots. The blazes are clear and you shouldn't go wrong if you're paying attention. The parking lot was pretty full but I think that was for the camping spots near the swimming hole, which was really low for this time of year. Past all that we didn't see anyone until we came back down. Speaking of coming down: a heavy crop of acorns plus several inches of dry leaves makes for some very tricky footing... the descent is pretty tough on the knees. My Runtastic app mapped this at 8 miles.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 3, 2017
Reading the previous reviews, intimidated me. "Had to stay over night after getting lost...." While we did the whole trail in about 6 hours, I have to say, this one kicked my rear. After the watering hole, we initially turned right and followed the stream/creek to a dead end. We went back to the watering hole intersection and went the opposite direction. Holy heck, i was not ready for the vertical hike. It felt like I was on a stair master for hours. I wish I had looked at the topo map prior to this outing. I'd have mentally prepared myself. I'm still rehabing an ACL reconstruction and the verticals were harsh but routine stops to reset my heart and breathing. It's beautiful country.

I won't bore you with the whole trek after that first ascent. Several times we thought we were approaching the "3rd ascent" and we were wrong. On the descent, I fell behind the group and wound up going downhill for 30-45 minutes and I kept telling me self, "why am I not hearing the water flowing yet!" There are some great views of the valley. The hike (after that first ascent) was wonderful. The overlook view was gorgeous. I'm definitely glad I went on this hike.

Point of clarification. if you turn right after the watering hole, the trail takes a steep descent on the "right" side of the creek. You should cross the stream/creek immediatetly after turning right at the intersection. Do not following the stream. That is where my group went wrong.

By: Justin Abel Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 17, 2016
This hikes is one of my favorites close to Harrisonburg. Some of the turn can be a little tricky but if you follow the maps and pay attention to the color of the blazes you will be fine. If you hike often and are in pretty decent shape you can knock this one out in about two hours.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2016
Awesome hike! This hike is pretty steep, mostly just on the purple part. I would recommend hiking the whole trail in two days. I camped with two others at the swimming hole and that was very nice. Locals will frequent the swimming hole from an easy access route that doesn't require much hiking so take note that you'll likely run into a handful of other hikers at the swimming hole.

CAMPING: There are 4 or 5 small cleared camping spots along the orange marked trail. They are in decent spots but the only cleared camping spots with easy water access are at the swimming hole. The swimming hole is a great spot to camp, however you will see other hikers there. The orange portion of the trail has fewer hikers and is pretty secluded. Also on the orange part you could stray a few hundred feet from the trail and find a ton of great spots to make your own campsite. The purple portion of the trail is likely too steep to camp comfortably (unless that's what you're in to). GETTING TO THE TRAIL (it's a little confusing): You'll see the sign for Washington National Forest at a gravel road. You can park at the very first intersection but make sure you don't block any direction. Best bet is to parallel park on the gravel road somewhere. You can take Boone Trail to begin. Or you can drive (or walk) up the gravel road to the next trail head. From what I understand, you have to start using one of these other trails.

Message/email me with questions!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Hope somebody checks in and reads this to help me out. I "accidentally" ended up spending the night in the park (unplanned as it got too dark for me to continue) and when I was picked up I was told I was near or at Fridley Gap. Now what I'm gonna say next will be hard for most to believe - but I started this trek at the Overlook at Massanutten, just out for a short jog I thought. I had never hiked there or on the Massanutten trails, so I got REALLY off those trails. Anyhow, I know there must be quite a few ways to get onto the trails, so I'm going to do the best I can to describe my last approx. half mile and see if anyone recognizes this and can tell me if it was Fridley Gap/Cub Run. This last portion of my trek was pretty much all a path that followed and was next to a nice stream/creek. At one point the trail even seemed to be right on the creek itself as I had to walk over and on the rocks within the creek for at least I would say 20-25 yards before the path was back on solid ground. Another part of this path split to the left or right - following to the let kept me by the creek, going to the right would have been up a small hill. (I believe both of these trails ended up in the same place though) Close to the end of the trail were a big group of rocks to climb over and the end of the path ended up on a gravel road. There were gravel parking spots on both sides of this gravel road and the gravel road went downhill. I think I saw a sign at the end of this gravel road that might have said it was a private road, but not so sure about that. There was definitely a sign-but not exactly sure what it said. But there were 2 cars in this parking area - one for a camper that was about 1/2 mile in and camped out by a nice flat spot by the creek. Sooooo, by this description, can you tell me if this sounds like Fridley Gap / Cub Run? Thank you!!

By: CrozetLivin Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 24, 2016
We did this hike and our GPS measured it to be 10.1 miles. It was a LOT longer than the 6.2 that it is listed as. Maybe we parked in the wrong place? We used the map/our phones to park at the Hiking Upward dropped pin, and the directions as listed seemed to make sense, except for the extra long distances. Like other reviewers suggested, it was super buggy and that incline after the swimming hole is beast. Severely overgrown parts of the trail in the dead of summer (abundant wild blackberries-- tasty but thorny). We did spot a mama bear and her cub! We did not spot any other people.

The most helpful directions were from Matt G, a hiker who reviewed this hike in 2011-- I copy his great step-by-step directions here: 1. Once you get on the Orange Blazed Trail keep going on it until you see the Blue Blazed Trail. 2. Do NOT turn onto to the Blue Blazed Trail keep going on the Orange Blazed Trail. 3. Arrive at a 4 way Junction and a clearing. This is a great camp site, but there is another one about 1.5-2 miles away which breaks up the hike better if you’re doing the whole thing. 4. You want to turn left at this junction. It is a bit overgrown and might not seem correct but it is, even though the sign says Fridley Gap trail is another direction, don’t go that way, make sure you go left at the four way junction. 5. There is another great camping area in this section at the top of a fairly long steep portion of the trail. It’s an established camp site with a rock fire pit. Once you have put your pack down make sure to climb up the small path, about 20 yards up is a fantastic view. 6. Keep following the Orange Blazed trail until you get to a junction in a valley by a stream. If you take the left fork you get to the Swimming Hole about 50 yards down the way. If you are not going to the Swimming Hole take the right junction going up to the right. 7. You will then take another right pretty quickly onto the Purple Blazed Trail (Leaving the Orange Blazed Trail) 8. This part of the trail is super steep. It’s about 0.75 miles and rises about 750 feet. 9. Stay on the Purple Blazed trail until you get back to the first four way junction you came across. 10. Now come back the way you came back to the parking area.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 27, 2016
Ditto the previous warning -- never saw ticks so bad. Load up on the strong stuff. I had some wimpy natural product and it didn't cut it.

We started at the water hole. We used the trailhead at the end of Airey Lane. It's a challenging hike with a lot of hilly, rocky trail. But it's pretty, with hilltop views, streams, and a fair amount of solitude. Saw some bear scat also.

By: Cam Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 8, 2015
Here are some things that will help out all who want to do this hike: Once you enter George Washington National Forest (pass the sign)continue down the gravel road (Go straight) until you see the trail head. Its a down hill to a creek made out of gravel. Once you pass the trail head its best to turn around and park before it. Be careful turning around, its kinda narrow with a drop off. The parking at the 3 way intersection as described is not a good spot to park due to extremely deep ruts, LARGE rocks and its far from the trail head. If you don't have an off road vehicle park where I advised and its much closer as well.

Most importantly, BRING BUG SPRAY!!! the biting flies, ticks, and Chiggers were enough to drive anyone insane. Over all this was a FANTASTIC place to hike/camp. Camping spots were few but not many people on the trails.

By: elis Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 28, 2015
after reading a lot of the reviews and hiking it myself, i had to give it 3 stars. i saw maybe ten people through the whole hike including the day i camped. it was pretty vacant. i started out at martins bottom and did it backwards i guess. the ascent on the purple blaze got intense quickly and the descent on the other side was steep. i got to the swimming whole and set up camp. the campsites were in good shape but there was broken glass in many places, disrespectful. the next mourning i started on the massanuten trail, orange blaze. the trail was in good shape but i had trouble finding it. the whole orange blaze section is fairly easy. I was expecting more but whatever. when i got to the four way junction i got back on the fridley gap trail to martin bottom. you have to really look to find the blaze. it's pretty much gone and made it confusing. overall it was pretty much what i was hoping for. bring a map! and when you get to the swimming whole find the rock crop on the right mountain. keep climbing to find a beautiful hidden view!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 10, 2015
We hiked only the circuit portion coming in from below the swimming hole. It was a very brisk morning starting out in the teens but that .8 mile ascent up the mountain warmed us up pretty quickly. The streams were flowing well and we're beautiful with ice formations. The trail was in good shape and leafless trees allowed for nice views of the valley throughout much of the hike. Saw only one trail runner and another couple of hikers coming in as we were coming out. The only difficulty was fording the stream back to the swimming hole where the high water made the usual crossing a bit more daunting but we soon found a nice big log across the stream which allowed for a comfortable crossing. As advertised, this hike is a good workout with a few fairly strenuous portions.

By: David Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 2, 2014
Great hike for a quick overnight backpacking trip. We hiked to to campsite at the top of Fourth Mountain (in the dark, with headlamps), set up camp, and in the morning we had some fantastic views from the rocks just up the hill from the campsite. The .8 mile hill after the swimming hole is pretty freaking intense we are in pretty decent shape, and it kicked our butts. Totally worth it, though. Also, we made a detour on the last leg of the trail we cut southeast toward Cub Run Rd to finish the hike, as it was (once again) dark, and a paved path is less conducive to twisted ankles than rocky terrain in the dark. That path is clearly marked with a sign at the intersection of the orange and purple signs on the last leg of the hike. If I recall correctly, it may have even said, "Cub Run Rd" on it.

By: Corny Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 13, 2014
This hike sure earned its 5 star difficulty rating. It was very steep. The swimming hole was pretty shallow and small but nice and cold on a hot day. The parking area was actually just the side of the road. You do an intense climb after the swimming hole, but there is no overlook for a reward. I enjoyed it, but it's not for everyone.

By: Bananahead Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 11, 2014
PLEASE NOTE: the trails around Fridley Gap are CLOSED currently (as of May 7, 2014) due to a controlled burn. To find out when they will re-open, call the nearest ranger station.

By: Forrest Hicks Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
I really really really want to love this hike. The view from the top is awesome and so is the swimming hole. But when my friend and I hiked this yesterday, the trail is not marked in a way that someone with out a map would be able to hike this. To make a LONG story short, we ended up hiking 12 miles wound up in a road in the middle of no where at 8:30 pm and had to call 911 to find us because it was dark, we were out of water, and only ate once during the day. I would love to go back to the swimming hole but its not worth getting lost

By: sesoM Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I hiked fridley gap hike this morning with the goal of getting a great workout due to the several ascents it offers.. and boy did I! The first couple of miles starts off with a gradual ascent crossing Boone Run Several times. After crossing BR, you begin to hike up the ravine and at some points feel as though you are walking in a small creek (no worries, bring water proof shoes if its a wet season). As you near the top of the ravine the wind deafens any sounds around you besides a close chirping bird. I feel as though a lot of trees were cut down or there was a fire or controlled burn near the summit because the trees are very sparse and the undergrowth looks young not to mention several charred pieces of wood. at the top it kind of looks as though you could camp there, you head to the left. following the orange blaze to the left you get a great view of the valley as you traverse down. After less than 10 minutes of hiking down you begin back up an ascent that is about 400 ft in elv (took me about 30 mins). You reach the top and there is a great white rock that jutts out at the top of the mountain. You can climb up and sit down near the right middle and overlook the valley. I chilled for a while and just let the heavy winds cool me off while I observed the ant size structures spotted across the landscape. You begin a descent after this to the swimming hole. I did not check out the swimming pool whoops! From here you hike up the steepest part of the hike, it has a purple blaze. After about 900 ft of gain and .5 mile later you reach the top.. nothing awesome to see at this summit except for the grateful descent that follows. the descent like all the others.. was short and led to a fire road. the fire road led back to the intersection where you took a left to follow the orange blaze. follow the sign that says boone run shelter 2. You will see your car very soon, dont forget to stretch!

By: Fort Valley Man Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
At Fridley Gap, next to the big pool, there is a rock shelter that is kind of cool.  To the left of that is an unofficial trail marked blue, which mostly involves climbing up the rocky spine of that ridge.  A bit scary in a few places, if you are afraid of heights.  Great views and a lot of fun, though.

By: Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 21, 2013
Great Hike! The hike provides a fairly difficult terrain, with multiple stream crossings and steep ascents. Unlike the reviewer a few posts down, we didn't have any problem with clear trails. Everything was well-marked and free of fallen limbs. About halfway through the hike was an breathtaking view of the Shenandoah Valley. Above all, the best part of this hike is that no one hikes it. My group didn't see a single other hiker during our trip.

Great Hike. Would recommend.

By: Jess Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 10, 2012
This was a great hike! We were a little hesitant about going after reading the review below, but the trail was in excellent shape. We ran into two volunteer organizations that had done a fantastic job cleaning up the trail- new trail blazes, building erosion ditches, bushwacking, clearing fallen trees. We followed the directions posted here and  had no problem finding the trail head or figuring out where to go. The third mountain climb is definitely a leg burner! Straight up! Took us 5.5 hours to complete, which included multiple breaks to enjoy the day. There is a great overlook at the third campsite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 16, 2012
This hike, especially on the orange blazed massanutten trail after approach the four way crossroads is a bushwhack (until you come to the swimming hole). The trail is very overgrown, up to my neck in some areas, with several areas that have large downed trees blocking the path. I did not bring a machete, but would highly recommend this if someone attempts this in the future. Additionally, in some of the most heavily overgrown areas the trail is not well blazed (especially descent down fourth mountain), and one could easily get lost (bring a emergency shelter, you may need it). The only other people we encountered on this hike were at the swimming hole, otherwise, this one definitely earns its 5 for solitude. We did encounter one black bear on the ascent of 4th mountain. When we hiked this there still was a lot of tree cover, so it seemed like a large amount of effort without any particular view. Overall, this hike was not worth it, and had the potentially to be dangerous. If you do go, the parking lot has erosion damage and I would not recommend parking a non-4-wheel drive vehicle there. Instead, there is ample parking on the pull offs on the side of the road prior to the trail-head on the left.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 13, 2012
I have been to Fridley Gap many times without ever hiking the entire loop but today was so nice that I decided I would take my beagle Luke with me and conquer it. Since I had never hiked to whole loop I checked out the directions on here and got a little confused. I kept seeing things that I know I read in the directions but nothing seemed to be in order to me. After a while of not knowing whether I was still going to right way I used a compass to make sure I was heading in the direction I wanted to be going in. I also tracked the hike with my phone:

It wasn't until I looked at the completed loop that I did and the trail on this site that I realized I get to Fridley a different way! If you look at the map at the top left of this page where Orange and Purple meet by the swimming hole, that is where I come in by. There is a parking lot at the end of Airey Ln. which is near Camp Overlook.

From that parking lot the trail is only about 10 yards away following the road. The trail is about 1 mile long until the swimming hole / junction which I turn right going in the opposite direction you would be with the directions above. You want to be on the right side of the stream when you turn right and go up the hill. There are multiple stream crossings and two camp fires on either side of the stream. As long as you are on the right hand side of the stream and follow the orange blazes up than you are going in the right direction.

It is very steep and feels very long, close to two miles into the hike is where you will find another campsite with a camp fire. I realized this was a spot a fellow reviewer talked about and there sure enough was a very short side trail that led to an amazing view. You start to descend and ascend reaching the next peak about a half mile later. you than have a one mile ascend to the third peak (which is the first if you are going by the other directions.) Descending from there you will reach a clearing with a 4 way junction with another camp fire site. Turn left here onto the PURPLE fire road trail and continue for .8 miles where Purple trail veers off into the woods where you begin another ascend.

You will reach the peak in about .2 miles where you will have a steady descend with a few small switchbacks until you reach the Orange trail again. You will want to go LEFT here. If you are going over a wooden foot bridge, you turned right, I don't know how far that goes but I went that direction and lost the trail a few years ago and had to follow the stream back. So after you turn left onto the trail that has Orange and Purple blazes it will only be a very short time (about .1 miles) until you reach that first junction by the swimming hole. You will turn RIGHT there and follow Mountain run back to the parking lot.

By doing it this way you do cut out a large portion of Boone Run. You add more of Mountain Run and the total distance of the hike is 6.11 miles. I hope this helps if anyone is ever familiar with Fridley Gap by getting to it this way instead!

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 7, 2012
Great hike. The start was not at all hard to find, contrary to what some commenters have said. We took a side trip up the blue trail to the top of the ride (indicated on the map), and it was a nice contrast with the stream side trail we'd been going along.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 6, 2011
This was a fantastic hike. The directions given here are pretty good and we did not get lost. We did an overnight hike leisurely starting the day at about 4:00pm on Saturday. We hiked about 4 or 5 miles and made camp just before getting to the Fourth Mountain at the second camping spot we came across. We had to make camp quickly because the rain started coming down pretty hard but nonetheless had a great night eating some Backpacker's Country Pad Thai. I cannot stress enough how steep and long the hike up Fourth Mountain was. We were not wearing any kind of altimeter or gps but we must have climbed 750 feet in about 0.75 of a mile. The "Swimming Hole" is a great place to get in and cool off but don't think you're going to be able to swim around. It's about 4 feet deep at its deepest and is not very big. Overall the hike is fantastic and I highly recommend taking a couple days, not because it's so difficult but because it is very enjoyable. We also had a water pump so we didn't have to worry about bringing too much water which was nice. On these short hikes you can bring a little extra stuff because you won't have to carry it around for too long.

Simplified Directions:
1. Once you get on the Orange Blazed Trail keep going on it until you see the Blue Blazed Trail.
2. Do NOT turn onto to the Blue Blazed Trail keep going on the Orange Blazed Trail.
3. Arrive at a 4 way Junction and a clearing. This is a great camp site, but there is another one about 1.5-2 miles away which breaks up the hike better if you’re doing the whole thing.
4. You want to turn left at this junction. It is a bit overgrown and might not seem correct but it is, even though the sign says Fridley Gap trail is another direction, don’t go that way, make sure you go left at the four way junction.
5. There is another great camping area in this section at the top of a fairly long steep portion of the trail. It’s an established camp site with a rock fire pit. Once you have put your pack down make sure to climb up the small path, about 20 yards up is a fantastic view.
6. Keep following the Orange Blazed trail until you get to a junction in a valley by a stream. If you take the left fork you get to the Swimming Hole about 50 yards down the way. If you are not going to the Swimming Hole take the right junction going up to the right.
7. You will then take another right pretty quickly onto the Purple Blazed Trail (Leaving the Orange Blazed Trail)
8. This part of the trail is super steep. It’s about 0.75 miles and rises about 750 feet.
9. Stay on the Purple Blazed trail until you get back to the first four way junction you came across.
10. Now come back the way you came back to the parking area.

By: Z-Money Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 23, 2011
This is the second time I hiked this trail and was just as happy as the first time. The start of the trail head goes along the gravel road. It seems like some people get confused on where to start, but it's pretty obvious if you follow the orange blaze. Note - There is a great view/camp site before you reach the swimming hole. The only people that we saw were a group camping near the swimming hole. We encountered a baby bear and a vicious rattle snake. The bear just hopped off when we approached, but the snake was not in a playful mood and made us wait until he went on his way. The hike doesn't have too many views, but with the swimming hole and challenging inclines its worth the work out.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 1, 2010
Fridley Gap Tr trailhead from Cub Run Road west toward Massanutten South Tr, one mile: found it! Drive 1.7 miles north from the "Welcome to GW National Forest" sign in Runkles Gap. On the left there is a prominent dirt road slanting downhill into a clearing. (There's a yellow barrier so vehicles can't enter the clearing itself.) Parking for 1-3 cars. Don't hike into the clearing, hoping to find the trail on the other side (I did that once -- doesn't go anywhere). Instead, the trailhead is exactly where the dirt road intersects Cub Run Road, on the north side of that jct. There IS a blaze, but it's set back and not easy to see unless you're looking at just the right spot. This part of the trail passes through what's now a burned area with blackened tree trunks. The lack of tree cover has allowed the underbrush to grow luxuriantly and it's quite a dramatic sight, especially at the top of the ridge. (Rocky climb steep in spots same destination via Martin Bottom Tr is easier but less interesting).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 11, 2010
mid-June 2010: The trailhead from Cub Run Road (road 65) is still very difficult to find, owing partially to a recent (probably intentional) large burn in the area. I will be back late June and return to Cub Run Road via Fridley Gap Trail and improve the trailhead markings if I can (not blazes - that's PATC's territory). Either come in from another direction, or, from Cub Run Road, park at Martin Bottom Tr (jct is well marked & has several good parking spots) and hike in from there, or park at the south end of Cub Run Road (at Runkles Gap) and take the Massanutten South Tr up to the Fridley Gap Tr. (Parking is dicey on Cub Run Road at Runkles Gap - easier for 4WD). Tip: Just E of Runkles Gap there's an old logging road leading off Cub Run Road and going north (dead end). There are a few spots where it's easy to park and only about 1/4 mi from the Massanutten South trailhead. * * * *  Love Massanutten and have hiked it for more than 25 years - any Q's, just email (have you tried the new (2009) pink trail near the Mass. Visitors Center?

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 9, 2009
First complaint-impossible to find the beginning of the trail, we spent 3 hours driving up and down the road until finally we gave up and just went on the "boulder gap" trail right there at the beginning of the road which ended up working out just fine but adding a steep 2 miles onto our journey (cool little shelter along the way though made it  fun).  Don't underestimate this guy, it says it's tough for a reason, lots of uphill with medium-small ankle twisting rocks for the majority of the hike (I'm 28 and in great shape and can go forever).  You are hiking up and down massanuten ski resort.  Not as bad (but still pretty exhausting) if you don't have heavy packs on the trail with you (we stowed ours after the first chunk of the hike at the campsite with the four way intersection with the first cool little campsite).  Views were blocked a lot by the gorgeous fall leaves, but you got a couple of awesome ones (one you have to go like 20 feet up a side trail to see-at one of the two peak makeshift camping sites, look for lots of big rocks and climb on top of them-its pretty obvious).  The swimming hole was a great reward for a lot of hard hiking and yes it was very cold, but so refreshing and I'm kind of a wimp with cold water, highlight I will always remember.  Great trip!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 24, 2009

We had some trouble finding the tailhead. We looked up to the right first instead of staying straight on 636 passed the gate the trail starts on the left. The rest of the directions were great.

We hiked in late on a Thursday around 2:30, camped, then hiked out Friday Am (done by 1030).

(5) difficulty - it would be nice if the swimming hole was moved to the top of that steep .8 mile uphill.

(3)streams- nice streams,no special cascade,fairly nice swimming hole

(4)views- only if you don't miss the vista on 4th mountain Adam discribed

(5)solitude -we saw 1 other couple day hiking

(4)camping-there are a couple of 1 tent sites that are nice (at the crossroad,at the fridley run crossing,at the swimming hole), but the best was again from Adam's suggestion on 4th mountain at the start of the descent on the left is a great site next to the vista rocks (no water there)

By: Juston Manville Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 21, 2009
Very challenging hike. I am more sore today than the day after hiking the Grand Canyon ( 10-12 miles each hike). We did the hike "backwards" and had a hard time finding the orange blaze after the swimming hole. A false trail and lack of clear marking were the cause. A post on this forum describes this. The swimming hole was great nice cold water. Watch for ticks!!! We pulled a bunch off of our dogs and several off of each of us.

By: Justin Abel Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 21, 2009
Yes, I agree about the poorly marked trail, I started out at the fridley gap parking area, the Massenutten South trail is poorly marked where it crosses the stream just past the Massenutten South Trail and Fridely Gap Trail intersection traveling south.  I ended up following the bogus trail until it ended, looked at the map, and decided to just bushwack up along the fridley run until it crossed the trail again further south.  I probably enjoyed this more that if I had followed the trail, the stream was very beautiful and obviously secluded.  If you find youself lost on this part of the trail, just follow the stream, but beware of thorn bushes!

By: Jessica Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 1, 2008
We did this hike yesterday -- it was a great hike and delivered the seclusion it promises.  In fact, we didn't see one person and that seemed pretty remarkable considering that it was Labor Day.  We set up camp the night before at a camp site about 50 yards up the trail on the right.  This let us get an early start the next day and meant that we didn't have to lug our packs with us!  It took us about 5 hours to complete with a 30 minute stop at the swimming hole (although we were walking pretty fast).  As for other campsites, there is a great spot at the four way crossing and another one a Fridley Gap.  Maybe one or two others along the way, but not too many options.  All in all, a great hike with loads of scenic stream crossings and not to mention a great workout.  That .8 mile ascent after Fridley Gap was a killer!

By: Brandon Spurlock Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 29, 2008
Just got back from this overnight trip. My buddy and I chose it because it was only 20 miles away from Harrisonburg and seemed to have plenty of water; and it did! There were several easy stream crossings within the first 15 minutes of the trail.

We really enjoyed the continual change in scenery. There were areas with bare trees, then pine trees, and then grassy footpaths. Much of the hike is along mountain streams. We had planned on spending the night at Fridley Gap, where 2 streams converged. We collected water here, but continued on to the toughest part of the hike; the .8 miles up 3rd mountain. It whooped us!

The map we had showed a stream crossing on Martin Bottom Trail, so we thought we would try to set-up camp there. Unfortunately, the Martin Bottom Trail was more of a fire road with pretty ugly brush surrounding the trail for .5 mile from the Martin/Fridley intersection. We decided to continue back to the 4-way intersection that we passed earlier in the trip, and there was an excellent camping spot there. A pre-existing fire ring with several logs to serve as seats. It was wide open and the sky was beautiful here at the intersection, and left us with just 2 miles out the next morning.

There weren't as many rewarding views as we had hoped, but if you keep your eyes open along the trails, you can catch a few glimpses of the valley. This was a very enjoyable close-to-home trip!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 10, 2007
This was a great hike.  We combined this one with the Morgan Run hike for a 17 mile overnight loop (it would've been 15 miles, but a wrong turn took us into Boone's Run).  The trail network is pretty dense at times, so it definitely pays to be attentive.  Plentiful water sources all around for a good, strenuous hike.  I disagree with the 2 rating on views, however - I think the view from the top of Fourth Mountain rivals the view from Bull Run Conservancy which recieved a 4.  To find the vista, summit Fourth Mountain and look for the campsite on your left.  A sidetrail leads from the campsite (and from the main trail, a few steps after the campsite) to a white rock outcropping which has a commanding view the entire valley.  It's easy to walk past it but it's not to be missed!

By: Kris Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2007
This hike certainly lives up to it's ratings! This was one of the most strenuous hikes I've done to date. The main huffing and puffing comes when climbing back up Third Mountain after leaving Fridley Gap. Water sources are plentiful until after Fridley Gap. Be sure to replenish and filter water here if you are getting low. The ascents up Third and Fourth Mountain  on the first leg before Fridley are cause for some sweat as well. The Boone's Run and Fridley Runs are beautiful and offer cooling down when you need it. Massanutten South trail is somewhat overgrown in spots and could use some new blazes. There is a huge blow down across the trail just above the intersection to the Boone's Run Shelter trail. This is massive and needs some negotiating. The trail is rocky in places and one needs to mind their ankles.  The swimming hole at Fridley Gap is an oasis after the first few hours or so of assaulting the mountains. Take advantage of this beautiful spot to eat and relax. The swimming hole is about 5 or 6 feet deep (as of this writing) and  great to sit by and unwind. You'll need the break for what awaits you heading up Third Mountain. The lack of switchbacks is cruel. You will climb about a thousand feet in less than a mile!
  There are certainly some nice vistas to be had on this hike, though not until the leaf cover is gone. The rating at that time would be more of a 3 to 4. This is a great workout, and some beautiful sights can be had. Mountain Laurel and Honeysuckle were in bloom today and smelled wonderful. There were an array of other wildflowers as well. Bring  a  few liters of water with you if you do not have a filter.  I filtered water to my hearts content and stayed well hydrated. The solitude was fabulous!! met one hiker coming in the opposite direction, and we shared a nice 20  minute break to "talk trail". I got behind a couple of horseback riders  towards the last 1/2 mile or so. Not pleasant. Leave via Cub Run Rd. for a stop at Catherine Furnace. Wonderful history. I completed this hike in about 7 hours with some nice breaks and trying to locate the lung I coughed up on the second assault of Third Mountain.

By: Chris & Megan Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 11, 2007
This is a great, strenuous hike. We hiked this trail together with Morgan Run and turned it into a nice overnight backpacking trip. We only saw a handful of people the entire weekend. The area near the Fridley Gap swimming hole has two comfortable campsites. The swimming hole itself is about 5-6 feet deep and crystal clear all the way to the bottom. Boone's Shelter is also a great place for small groups. The shelter is three-sided and includes 4 wood sleeping bunks. We did notice, however, that the distance from Boone's shelter to the clearing (the intersection of the Fridley Gap Trail, 419, and Massanutten Mountain South, 416) is 2 miles according to the wooden trail marker. Enjoy!

By: TRL RUNR Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 12, 2006
I routinely do this trail route as a morning trail run before work.  I love it because it's got a little bit of everything in a relatively short hike (I often begin at the trailhead on Aries Rd. on the west side of the Massanutten range, which cuts off 2-3 miles of distance).  Tough climbs, lots of rocks, some nice views, pleasant streams, and lots of wildlife.  In the early morning, I almost always see a handful of deer, occasional ruffed grouse, and even a yearling bear a few weeks back.  Fridley Run is beautiful place to stop and soak your feet or take a dip.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone more than a mile from the trailhead, so solitude is also a feature. Now for the negatives--certain sections seem to get overgrown.  This normally only bothers me in the hot weather.  Also, the bugs (gnats) can get real bad in mid summer to early fall--a big advantage of running vs. hiking, by the way, is that the bugs can't keep up! I love this route & am glad to have access to a nice trail like this so close to home.
From Harrisonburg

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 19, 2006
This is a very nice, quiet hike with a couple of pretty good views and a lot of solitude. It is one of my favorites. I just want to let people know that the trails listed here have have been cleared out since the reiviews included below. The trails could use some blaze work, but with a map, you shouldn't have a hard time following the trails.

I started overseeing trails in this area for PATC last fall.  Please send me an email if you encounter trails in this area that need some work.


By: blueingenue Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I think this was the quietest area I've ever hiked. There wasn't a hint of road noise. I didn't see anyone on the whole trail, though there were a few people along the access road (Cub Run Road) that were there for fishing or the nearby swimming holes. The Massanutten South Trail starts in a gap in First Mountain, along a stream called Boone Run, which climbed through a gap in Second Mountain. Water ran along the trail here, but nothing too deep or muddy.

The trail was flanked with rock formations as it passed through the gap. This was the most scenic part of the hike. After turning north away from Boone Run, the trail continued to climb along a somewhat muddy, rocky trickle in the valley between Second and Third Mountains. This wasn't a steep climb, but it was long, and the moisture on the trail meant a lot of gnats. Even though I had started the hike at 3:30 p.m., after the worst heat of the day, this was really sweaty going. I was using my map as a fan to keep the sweat and gnats off me, though the bug repellent did most of the work there.

Taking the left fork of an interesection to continue on Massanutten South Trail, I climbed to a crest on Third Mountain, turned southwest for an easy descent on its west side for about a mile (the views advertised along this stretch are mostly blocked by trees), then took a zig-zag path ascending to the ridge of Fourth Mountain. That climb was moderate and there is a good-sized rockslide off to the left of the trail. You don't stay on the ridge of Fourth Moutain (with more obscured vistas) long. The trail descends to where the streams Fridley Run and Mountain Run meet. After crossing the stream and walking a very short distance, I came to the intersection with Fridley Gap Trail. Watch carefully for this turn because it's almost a 180, but the correct trail is easy to identify because it goes uphill in a hurry.

The forest on Third and Fourth Mountains is very rich, and the most interesting thing about the previous stretch is the variety of colorful mushrooms. I also saw my first Indian Pipe plant, a white waxy flower that grows parasitically on fungus.

The Fridley Gap Trail portion started out as a brutal steep path to its highest point on Third Mountain. This was the hardest going on the trail.

CAUTION: The path down Third Mountain is hard to follow. I was starting to lose daylight and a deadfall trunk surrounded by a collection of smallwood and debris almost tricked me off the trail, especially because here there was also a false trail leading downhill. You will have to climb over the log and the smallwood to continue on the trail. I left some triangular-shaped rocks on top of the log - hopefully the next people through will get the message. I wish I had brought a paint pen. I think this portion of trail hasn't been maintained for quite a while, becuase after that first tree there were at least two more trees across the path that made the trail hard to keep, along with several more downed trees that were less deceptive. Blazing was sparse and faded, as well.

When I came back to the intersection with Massanutten South Trail, my book called for me to go straight through the intersection, back down the same path I had taken up. It was close to 9 p.m. by now and there was no way I was going to go down that in the dark (muddy + rocky + dark = bad). Instead, I turned left to continue on Fridley Gap Trail, which was the shortest route back to FR 65 Cub Run Road--a gravel road.

It was a good call, not only for safety (and lack of gnats!), but because I got a very nice view through a break in the trees. The view overlooked Shenandoah Valley as the moon rose. My Last Obstacle was a wide oval puddle almost completely blocking the end of trail, within sight of the road. After skirting that, the gravel road made an easy last couple of miles back to my car.

Total hike time was 6.5 hours with a few short snack breaks and several stops to take pictures. I wouldn't do this hike again in summer heat and humidity, but it would be nicer in drier, cooler weather.

By: DFlaherty Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 11, 2005
I don't want to be extra critical beacuse of the extreme heat and bugs last Saturday but this hike was not fun. It starts out fine heading up the first 1.8 miles on the orange blazed Masanutten Trail South crisscrossing over Boone Run. If it was 20 degrees cooler it would have been fine but I was determined to do the hike in the heat and humdity and really paid for it. In addition, like an idiot I forgot to bring bug repellant so I was getting attacked pretty good by a swarm of nats. Anyway I got to the clearing and 4-way trail head of Masanutten Trail South and the Fridley Gap Trail and could not find the orange blazed trail to my left. It was very hot and there were a lot of trees down so I decided to just do the hike backwards and headed straight ahead onto the purple blazed Fridley Gap Trail. This trial is a fire road until you get make a left and head up and over third mountain. The trail had at least 7 or 8 large trees down blocking the path. It was also very wooded and tight. I thought to myself that it was almost to desolate. Anyway up and over third mountain I went with a steep decent to Fridley Run and the pool. At this point I soaked in from the heat and ate. I was also still getting pummeled by the bugs. So after a quick lunch I went off to look for the orange blazed Masanutten Trail South. I followed along Fridley Run for a half hour and was not able to pick up the orange blazed trail. At this point I had been hiking for 2 1/2 hours and decided I had to go back the way I came. I just felt that the markings of the trail were very old, not obvious. It seemed as if no one had hiked or serviced this trail in years and I was worried I was going to get lost. So back up Fridley Gap Trail I went and was just exhausted. The heat was absolutley brutal and I thought my head was going to explode. Beware of this stretch of trail becuase it is really tough. Luckily I had taken a ton of water. In the end I was able to get back to my in 2 hours. So to summarize this adventure I want to warn all hikers that this hike is poorly marked down in the Fridley Run area and that the trail itself is in desperate need of servicing such as moving large trees and fresh trail markings on the trees. It is definately a desolate hike considering I didn't run into anyone at all. But at the same time I didn't expect many people to go hiking in that heat anyway. -DF

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