The summit of Knob Mountain is a small "knob" approximately 200' to 300' higher than the actual ridgeline that defines the mountain. At one time, Knob Mountain was accessed from a fire road which led from Skyline Drive to the summit. This fire road has been abandoned, and the remains make for an ideal trail to Knob Mountain. This would be a perfect hike for a family outing, and with the numerous trail systems in the park, this is a great area for training.
Knob Mountain is located in Shenandoah National Park just west of Skyline Drive. It is in the Elkwallow/Mathews Arm section of the North District. This section stretches west of Skyline Drive and makes for one of the wider areas of the park. Much of the area is designated as wilderness, and opportunities for quiet and solitude abound.
Knob Mountain is a year-round destination, but it is best enjoyed from mid-fall through late spring. Spring and fall bring pleasant temperatures and, except in each season's two or three weeks bordering summer, they are without the heat and humidity that can make summer hiking in the Southeast miserable. May is especially beautiful for its wildflowers, and mid-October through early November is excellent for dramatic fall colors. If you do go in summer, consider the longer loop including Jeremy's Run (see attached route page) so that you can splash in the pools and rapids of that pretty stream to cool off a bit.
Hike to the Summit
If the summit is your only goal, start from the trailhead (see Getting There) and hike 0.3 miles downhill to Jeremys Run Trail, where you turn left onto it. In 0.7 miles, turn right onto Knob Mountain Cutoff Trail, which leads steeply uphill for 0.6 miles to Knob Mountain Trail, at which point you turn left. It is now 3 miles to the summit, which is marked by a concrete post, as are all the trail instersections. The summit and the entire trail are wooded, but obstructed views east and west accompany the route on Knob Mountain. Winter is the best time to enjoy the views since the trees will be mostly bare.
The trailhead for Knob Mountain is at Milepost 24 of Skyline Drive in the park's North District. This is also where the Elkwallow facilities are located. Park in the picnic grounds at the furthest parking area from the drive. The trail begins here and is well marked.
From outside the park (west side), use these directions, supplied by SP member Buz Groshong: US-340 about 15 miles south of Front Royal (1.9 miles south of Compton) turn left (east) on 662 and immediately turn right on 611. Follow 611 for about 3 miles and look for sign for Jeremy's Run Trail. Park alongside the road and stay on the trail as it crosses private property.
Hike up Jeremys Run Trail to the intersection with Knob Mountain Trail.
It costs $15 to enter the park, and that provides access for a week. Annual passes cost $30. The interagency pass, good for yearlong entry to areas managed by NPS, USDA Forest Service, USFWS, BLM, and the Bureau of Reclamation, costs $80.
The park is open all year, but Skyline Drive does sometimes close after snow or ice storms. The park site does not give current road conditions, so call ahead (540-999-3500).
To reduce poaching, Skyline Drive is subject to nighttime closures during hunting season (mid-November through early January). Specific information about the dates, times, and sections for the current year is available on the park's website.
Camping and Lodging
The closest campground is Mathews Arm (MP 22), which has water and flush toilets but no showers or a store (there is a seasonally open snack bar at Elkwallow, a short drive south on Skyline Drive). The campground is open from late May through October. It will usually fill on holiday and October weekends. The fee for a campsite is $15 per night (as of 2007, higher if you reserve).
Backcountry camping is allowed throughout the park. Free backcountry camping permits can be obtained by mail or or at any of the park entrances, visitor centers, and at park headquarters.
Overnight lodging is available at Skyland (Milepost 44.3) and at Big Meadows (Milepost 51.2).
Cottages can be rented at Lewis Mountain (Milepost 57.5).
Be sure to check in advance on availability and openings for facilities. All facilities are open during the summer months, some are open in the spring and fall, and all are closed during December through February.
Mountain Conditions, Links
For emergency help, call 800-732-0911.
Official park site