The Signal Knob hike in the George Washington National Forest has spectacular views of Strausburg VA. in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as Buzzard Rock in Fort Valley to the east.
Signal Knob, at 2,106ft, gets its name as both Confederate and Union troops used it as a lookout during the Civil War. The Confederate Signal Corps controlled the outlook from 1862 until August 14, 1864, when Union troops defeated the 61st Georgia Volunteer Infantry and took control of the peak.
Mile 0.0 - Start the hike from the right side of the Signal
Knob parking area. The trail is blazed orange which designates it as part of the Massanutten Trail. Start uphill
on the orange blazed trail then shortly pass an old
stone house on your left, cross a small stream, then follow the trail around the
eastern section of the mountain.
Mile 1.5 - Arrive at the Buzzard
Rock Overlook. The trail will take a hairpin turn back to the south and becomes significantly more rocky. In 0.9 miles from the Buzzard Rock Overlook the trail turns back to the north passing another nice vista of Fort Valley. Continue to follow the orange blazed trail as it becomes less steep, then passes several nice camp spots just before arriving at the intersection of the Meneka Peak Trail.
Mile 3.4 - Pass the Meneka Peak Trail on the left, continuing on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail as it winds around the ridge to your
right and passing a transmission tower in another 0.8 miles.
Mile 9.3 - Continue straight on the orange blazed Massanutten
Trail (this section was formerly the the Tuscarora Spur Trail
and was reblazed in 2002) as it
descends slightly, then parallels Fort Valley Rd./VA678.
Mile 9.9 - Arrive back
on the left side of the Signal Knob parking area.
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Signal Knob hike:
Reviews For The Signal Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
A really nice, varied hike. The terrain is definitely quite rocky and will fatigue your feet and calves as the day goes on. Hiking on a Thursday morning starting around 10am, I only saw a few people all day. Some wildlife (deer, squirrels, salamanders, and bugs), but otherwise a quiet, secluded hike. A few places to catch a view of the surrounding scenery, but otherwise a hike mostly through forested areas as you climb and descend with a couple places where the sun breaks through. Took about 4.25 hours from start to finish with nothing more than a few breaks for a picture or to listen to the quietness. This hike requires your attention nearly the whole time to make sure your foot is landing securely because even the areas that are less rocky will still have some jagged edges of embedded rocks sticking up or tree roots to step over that can easily cause a fall. Most surprising part of the hike was the second ascent when you get on the Tuscarora Trail. Much steeper climb than the initial up to Signal Knob ridge, but also comes with a much more gradual descent. Overall a great weekday hike if you want some quiet and steady level of effort.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 24, 2019
I did this as a one-nighter. As others have mentioned, this is a VERY rocky trail. If you have decent hiking shoes, you'll be fine but it does wear on you a little. I have some 2 year old shoes with disappearing tread and it never felt treacherous or anything. The grade is steep in a few places but you can do a comfortable 2mi/hr.
Apart from the rocky-ness, the biggest disappointment for me was variation and overlooks for me. In the 10mi of hiking, there is little in variation and the overlook at Signal Knob is the only big window out.
The campsite at the Signal Knob is small but very close to the overlook so if you are the only one there (like I was), you have a nice view for sunset / sunrise. Speaking of campsites, all the ones I saw were pretty small. The one at the top fit my Flycreek UL2 but a bigger tent might have some space issues. Firepits at all the campsites but actual tent space was pretty small. Hammock users might be ok though. Plently of trees.
On the way down, there are sections where you see random toads. That was a nice surprise.
On the whole, if you haven't done it, I'd do it as a day hike or a one-nighter if you just want to get away from people. But I won't bother going back.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 22, 2019
The hike took us 5 hours but we didn’t stop for anything longer than a 5 min water break. The views up the mountain along the orange blazed trail were beautiful but the trail was so rocky it was difficult to pause anywhere to enjoy it. We actually liked the last 3 miles along the blue blazed trail the best because there weren’t as many rocks to step over and you could just walk and look around more comfortably. It was a nice walk in the woods at this point. Make sure you wear good sturdy hiking boots on this one! While the views were nice there was no large rock outcropping to sit and enjoy them along the way. A lot was covered by trees this time of year (June). There are a few overgrown areas of the trail so make sure you check for ticks. We pulled a few out coming out of those areas. Glad we did the hike but wouldn’t visit again.
Date of Hike: Monday, April 29, 2019
I agree with Matt on the full loop hike takes more like 7 hours. I also agree that the out back on the orange trail works better for me so you don't have to re-climb the mountain on the blue loop trail. The blue loop is nice if you want to see some old fort and copper mine holes but long. This also has many flowers so at times during the year there are lots of bees.
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 21, 2019
Great hike! Lots of rocks on the trail for the first three miles or so they will slow you down but the views up top are worth the effort.