Hardscrabble Knob is located in George Washington National Forest and is in the Shenandoah Mountains. It is located in Augusta County and is approximately 5 - 10 miles from the border of West Virginia.
Congress designated Ramsey's Draft as a wilderness area in the 1980's. This area contains one of the largest areas of virgin Hemlock trees in Virginia. This area has never been timbered and there are huge Hemlocks all along the trail. A number of these trees have been dated to the 1400's.
Unfortunately there a disease (wooly algid) which is affecting all Hemlocks along the east coast. This disease has a 100% mortality rate so these trees are destined for extinction. The disease was first spotted in this area in 1998 and has a 4 year mortality rate. Therefore, go soon, as the trees are starting to die now. As of 1995, 80% of the Hemlocks in Shenandoah National Park (35 miles to the east) had died from this disease.
From Washington, D.C, take Interstate 66 west to Interstate 81. At their juncture, head south on Interstate 81 until you reach Staunton, Virginia. At this point exit onto State Route 250 and head west until you reach the small town of West Augusta (bacically an intersection with a store). Stay to the right following State Route 250 for several more miles and look for the sign for Ramsey's Draft on the right hand side. There is a picnic area here with bathrooms. Follow the road past the picnic area and several hundred feet further there is another parking lot where the trail begins.
There are no fees or permits required for climbing / hiking in this area.
When To Climb
Year round climbing is OK throughout Virginia. Summer months will be hot and humid. The winters can be very bitter with snow and winds.
There are numerous camp sites along the Ramsey's Draft trail. These are backpacking sites along the creek bed. There are no facilities.
Hardscrabble Knob is located in the Ramsey's Draft Wilderness area and is administered by the United States Forest Service, Deerfield Ranger Station located in Staunton, Virginia.
Telephone Number: 540-885-8028.
Ramsey's Draft Trail:
Starting at the parking lot, follow the trail along Ramsey's Draft creek. This trail follows the creek almost to the summit. There are numerous creek crossings (maybe 50?) along this route. Do not try to avoid the crossings. I tried this initially and found myself climbing on 100' cliffs. At times the trail seemed to go up these cliffs but I'm sure these were just from others who tried the same ill advised route. The trail is very poorly marked. In some places this trail is an old road bed, other places it is hard to find.
At approximately 6.0 miles you will see your first trail sign at a split in the trail. To the right is a trail which leads to Big Bald Knob (4,120'). Stay to the left and follow the small creek bed to another trail sign. If you go right it will lead you to Tear Jacket Knob (4,229'). Stay to the left and 0.5 miles more takes you to the summit. At the summit you will find a large rock outcropping with the remains of a fallen look-out tower.
From the parking lot to the summit it is a 6.8 mile hike.
Make sure to wear stiff, waterproof hiking shoes.
Staunton, Virginia Weather
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Displayed in inches for Augusta Springs, Virginia