Our intention was to spend the day hiking in the Shenandoah Valley. But Friday night festivities lasted longer than expected making it difficult to rise before 10:00am the next morning. Still, all was not lost. We accommodated for the late start by staying close to home in the George Washington National Forest (about 1.5 hrs drive from the metro area). We decided to hike the Signal Knob trail* which wraps around the mountain for almost 12 miles.
It was 2:00pm by the time we parked our car and laced up our hiking boots. Nana was trying to make sense of the black and white google map while bitching at Sugato for not printing it in color. The “directions” for the trail were rather complicated. There were multiple trail makers of varied colors and the landmarks for changing from one color to the next were rather vague. It didn’t help that our trail wasn’t very well marked with signs/colors. We somehow missed the highly anticipated Buzzard Rock Overlook. Which, per google, looks like this:
What we saw instead was this: Which wasn’t all that bad either.
During the entire 3.45 hrs we:
– encountered only two other hikers,
– saw no animals (only animal feces),
– “almost” broke our ankles several times,
– begged for a breeze,
– begged for more water,
– talked about which flavor Gatorade we would chug once back at the 711.
All in all, it was a good hike. It was of moderate difficulty with lots of boulders and rocks. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look once the leaves change color. I do wish our final destination was more rewarding (instead of a signal tower with a fenced hut saying CAUTION: RADIATION), but at least the view of the valley wasn’t half bad. Plans are already in works to return during Fall with a better map, more water, and loads of food.
* A brief history of Signal Knob from Wikipedia
Signal Knob is the northern peak of Massanutten Mountain in the Ridge and Valley Appalachians with an elevation of 2,106 feet (642 m).It is located in George Washington National Forest in Shenandoah County, Virginia.
The peak offers expansive views into the northern Shenandoah Valley and the town of Strasburg, Virginia.
Signal Knob was used by Signal Corps in the American Civil War by both the Union and Confederate armies. The Confederates occupied it from 1862 to 1864, and it was a key observation point for the Battle of Cedar Creek. On August 14, 1864, a group of Union troops won control of the peak by defeating a detachment of the 61st Georgia Volunteer Infantry.
The Massanutten Trail, maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, leads hikers and mountain bikers up to Signal Knob. There are many loop options of varying lengths which may be combined with the Tuscarora Trail. Trails in the Signal Knob area are known to be less crowded than Shenandoah National Park, to the east.