Overview and History
A view of Signal Knob from the trail near Maneka Peak to the south.
View from Signal Knob - Photo by Peter Larkins
In the 1800s, the Massanuttens was recognized as a ready source of iron ore, limestone, and the fuel needed to refine it. Four furnaces were set up in the valley and produced large quantities of 'pig' iron until shortly after the Civil War. These furnaces are largely preserved as historical parks as part of the George Washington National Forest. In 1933, the first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established on Massanutten and became the model of New Deal work projects.
Fall view of Signal Knob Trail near Buzzards' Rocks Overlook.
Getting ThereSignal Knob is easily accessed from I-66 near the cities of Strasburg or Front Royal, VA. Take the US-340 exit at Front Royal heading south and after crossing the North Fork of the Shennandoah River (first bridge), turn right onto VA-55 west (just before you get to the second bridge). On VA-55, pass Waterlick sign, and at about 5.2 miles from US-340, turn left onto route 678, marked for Elizabeth Furnace and Fort Valley. You can also get to route 678 by taking VA-55 east from Strasburg (just off I-81). Follow VA-55 to the hamlet of Waterlick and turn south on route 678. The end of the Massanutten ridges will be obvious ahead of you. After 4 miles on route 678, find the Signal Knob Trailhead on the right. Another mile farther is the Elizabeth Furnace picnic area. Both are good places to start for Signal Knob.
Red TapeSignal Knob, like the rest of the Massanutten Mountains is in the George Washington National Forest. There are no access fees or permits required. Please follow Leave-No-Trace principles.
For parking information or other questions, contact the Lee Ranger District, (540) 984-4101
When To ClimbSignal Knob is accessible all year, but the best scenery can be found in the early summer when the mountain laurel is in bloom and in autumn when the leaves are changing. Late summer is blueberry and blackberry season and the trailsides have many berry patches. You may also see a black bear enjoying the berries. Treat them with caution! Winter hikers should be prepared for inclement weather and possibly frozen ground.
CampingCamping is permitted throughout the National Forest except in the immediate vicinity of picnic areas and other developed waysides and in the watershed of the Strasburg Reservoir, which includes the southern slopes of Signal Knob. There are many informal trail-side campsites of varying quality. There are no fees for backcountry camping, nor are permits required. Massanutten is a steep ridge so water sources may be scarce. You can generally rely on finding water in any sharp valley marked on a map.
There are also developed campgrounds (fee areas) at Elizabeth Furnace and nearby Camp Roosevelt.
- Massanutten Ring trail (71 mile circuit)
There is a newly-completed circuit tour of Great Massanutten Mountain (of which Signal Knob is the northern end). Trail conditions are rough but nicely done. It is absolutely uncrowded and a great alternative to Shenandoah National Park.