This hike, located in the George Washington National Forest, utilizes parts of a forest road and the Massanutten Trail (orange blaze). It offers a shorter and less strenuous route to the summit of Signal Knob than the more popular route from the Elizabeth Furnace area (trailhead from Rt. 678). The hike starts off gentle, following the forest road. Once beyond the small reservoir, the trail gradually gets steeper until the top. There are no switchbacks for the entire hike. Due to the trail's gentle grade, it is a popular route for mountain bikers. The Tuscarora Trail can be accessed from the Massanutten Trail and used to make a loop. See the 'Sources' section for more local hiking information. The route details below are just for the 'out and back' hike.
[img:210215:alignleft:medium:Trailhead and parking area]
Every time you drive on I-66 in western Virginia, you stare in the distance at Signal Knob. But to get to the trailhead, take Exit 6 (Hwy 522/340) off of I-66. Once off the ramp, go south on Hwy 522/340 for 1.2 miles, crossing the Shenandoah River in the process. Turn right onto Hwy 55 and go 5.2 miles to Fort Valley Rd. (Rt. 678). Make a left and go 8.6 miles. Turn right onto Boyer Rd. and keep to the right as the road forks left twice within a mile. Continue down the forest road until it ends at a gate t and parking area.
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Trails used: Massanutten Trail (orange blaze), forest road (no blaze)
Type: Out and back hike (not a loop)
Vertical Rise: 896 feet
Length: ~5 miles one way
Duration: Less than 5 hours round trip
At the parking area, walk past the gate and continue on for about 2 miles. The Massanutten Trail forks left. Take either route, as they meet up again on the other side of the reservoir. Pass the reservoir and begin a steadier climb for about 1.5 miles to the summit. There are two viewpoints at the top. One is right below the beacon facility and the other is off the Massanutten Trail. When approaching the summit, veer left away from the forest road, onto the Massanutten Trail. Follow trail for a few hundred feet to the overlook.
Return from whence you came.
Water, snacks, camera, and sturdy shoes, because the trail gets significantly rocky on the final climb, eventhough the first half is fairly smooth and flat.
Also, if you hike in late July or early August, bring a container to fill up on wild blackberries and blueberries. There are plenty to pick between the reservoir and the summit.
Other Notes and Source Links
I found this hike on HikingUpward.com and climbed it on July 23, 2006. The views are limited during the summer, but it was nice to stuff myself with wild berries.
For more detailed information on this route and countless other great hikes in the region, check out:
[img:210217:alignleft:medium:Massanutten ridge view]