OverviewThe true summit of Duncan Knob is a nondescript point in the woods in George Washington National Forest. It is situated on one of the smaller ridges in the northern part of the Massanutten Mountains. However, Duncan Knob is still frequently visited (although not as much as Shenandoah National Park) because of the spectacular views from an overlook near the summit. It is also the only peak in the Massanutten Mountains that requires a Class 3 scramble to reach the summit.
From the overlook, views to the east include the main eastern Massanutten ridge and the Blue Ridge Mountains. To the west, views include the main western Massanutten ridge, Short Mountain, and the Shenandoah Mountains. To the south, Strickler Knob and Big Mountain can be seen.
Getting ThereGap Creek Trail: From Luray, drive west on SR 675 until reaching Crisman Hollow Road (FR 274). Turn left on Crisman Hollow Road and follow it until the Gap Creek trailhead. Park here.
Hike up the blue-blazed Gap Creek Trail for 1.5 miles until reaching the crest of the Middle Mountain Ridge. Turn left onto a white-blazed spur trail and follow it for about 0.2 miles to the rock slide near the summit. Start the Class 3 scramble up the rocks to the summit overlook. The true summit is in the woods behind the overlook.
Round trip: About 3.4 miles with an elevation gain of nearly 1,200 feet.
Scothorn Gap Trail: From Luray, drive west on SR 675 until reaching Crisman Hollow Road. Turn left on Crisman Hollow Road and follow it until the Scothorn Gap trailhead, which is a couple of miles beyond the Gap Creek trailhead. Park here.
Hike up the yellow-blazed Scothorn Gap Trail for 1.4 miles until reaching an intersection with the Massanutten Trail. Turn left and continue on the Scothorn Gap trail for another 1.6 miles to the intersection with the Gap Creek Trail. Turn right and hike up the Gap Creek Trail for 0.2 miles to the crest of the Middle Mountain Ridge. Turn left onto the spur trail and follow it for 0.2 miles. Scramble to the overlook.
Round trip: About 6.8 miles with an elevation gain of about 900 feet.
Massanutten Trail: From Luray, drive west on SR 675 until reaching Camp Roosevelt. Park here and cross SR 675.
Hike for 3.3 miles on the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail until reaching the intersection with the Gap Creek Trail. Turn right onto the Gap Creek Trail and hike for 0.9 miles up to the crest of the ridge of Middle Mountain. Turn right onto the spur trail and follow it for 0.2 miles. Scramble to the overlook.
Round trip: About 8.8 miles with an elevation gain of about 1,500 feet.
Red TapeDuncan Knob is on public land in the George Washington National Forest; no permits are necessary for hiking or camping except at Camp Roosevelt.
CampingCamping is permitted in most locations throughout the National Forest. Camp Roosevelt is a large campsite with restrooms, picnic areas, and water faucets near the intersection of SR 675 and the Massanutten Trail. The fee is $10 per night; contact the Lee Ranger District for further information. There are also good free campsites available on the ridge near the intersection of the Gap Creek Trail and the summit trail and in Duncan Hollow near the Massanutten Trail.
When to ClimbDuncan Knob can be climbed nearly all year round. Fall colors are at their peak in mid to late October. Summer is the worst time for mosquitoes, ticks, and other hostile little critters. The heat and humidity are also at their worst in summer, and views tend to be more limited by haze. The best time for a summer hike is early in the morning.
Hiking should be avoided in the National Forest during a two- to three-week period in late November and early December when it is permissible to hunt deer with modern firearms.
External LinksGeorge Washington National Forest- Lee Ranger District
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club maintains the trails in the Massanutten Mountains, and provides maps, guidebooks, and other information.