Signal Knob/Meneka Peak Loop

 

Description: This is a strenuous 10.6 mile circuit with outstanding views of Fort Valley, the Shenandoah Valley and the Great North Mountain to the West. The usual route includes utilizing the portion of the Massanutten Trail between Signal Knob. You get more views, a nicer trail, a decrease in mileage of about 0.5 miles and the loss of an additional 400 feet of elevation gain by retracing your steps to Meneka Peak Trail and using that as a connector to the Bear Wallow/Tuscarora Trail. This is the route described here.

The Signal Knob Parking area is on the west side of RT 678 and is signed.

 

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Trail Notes: The Hike starts in the north-west corner of the parking lot. Pick up the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail (formerly Signal Knob Trail) and follow it up a stream.

 

About 20 yards before a spring house (concrete slab with white PVC pipe) cross the stream and begin a series of long switchbacks past Buzzard Rocks Overlook (1.2 miles from the start), Fort Valley Overlook (0.8 miles from the previous overlook) and finally to a large campsite about 0.7 miles from the Fort Valley Overlook. There is supposed to be another overlook here on a side trail heading north-east but the trail, as well as the overlook, appears to be overgrown. The footing can be tricky along this stretch because of the loose rock. Be Careful!

 

Continue to climb but less steeply. Pass white-blazed Meneka Peak Trail on the left at about 0.6 miles from the campsite. Continue approximately 1 mile, passing the TV tower. Follow the sign to a panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley, Strasburg, the Great North Mountain and Allegheny mountains.

 

After relaxing an ample amount of time retrace your steps to the Meneka Peak Trail. Turn right and climb slightly to the highest point on the west ridge and more views of Fort Valley.

At 1.21 miles from the turn-off come to the intersection of the blue-blazed Bear Wallow-Tuscarora Trail. Turn left and follow it t through a series of switchbacks to the valley floor.

 

At about 1.7 miles from the last turn-off pass pink-blazed Rattle Snake Trail on your right and in 0.9 more miles the white-blazed turn-off for Elizabeth Furnace Campground on your right.

 

In about 0.8 miles the blue and now orange-blazed Tuscarora/Massanutten Trail will turn right at a stream crossing. Stay straight on the orange-blazed Massanutten trail and arrive back at the cars in about 0.5 mile.

Critique This Outing

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Name: Mike Mayton                                                                                                Hike: Signal Knob
Date: 8-31-12                                                                                                          Rating: 4.5

Critique: This is a very fine hike if you like a good ascent, varied walking surfaces and views that make you say "Wow!" It can be rocky and I appreciated my boots, but wore hiking sandals (like Keens) on the way down and had no trouble. The hiking pole was a big help. 2 hours up and 2 hours back. We did not do the Meneka Peak Trail route.

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Name: Carol Branscome                                                                                       Hike: Signal Knob/Meneka Peak Loop
Date: 5/29/11                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Did this hike on a hot hazy Memorial Day weekend. Hike was nice but the views hazy. The "5" is for the display of mountain laurel, a mountain full of it. The best display we have seen in this region. Easily beats anything in Shenandoah NP.

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Name: Michael Eckert                                                                                             Hike: Signal Knob /Meneka Peak loop
Date: 9/19/08                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Great hike with nobody on the trail but me and squirrels. There is a bear around Signal Knob, per tree scratches, fresh scat and large rocks overturned, but did not see him/her. Good elevation gain but very, very rocky. Not a good hike for trail shoes. I would not go without hiking boots that give you ankle support, and bring walking poles for stability coming downhill.

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Name: Larry                                                                                                              Hike: Signal Knob /Meneka Peak loop
Date: 09/02/07                                                                                                       Rating: 4

Critique: First time on trail, used directions from this web site, didn't get lost. Good parking. Intermittent incline and declines. Some of trail signs missing or damaged. Lovely views. ~4 and 1/2 hours total, including 4 hrs. hike time, 30 min break . time.  Ride from D.C. area easy.

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Name: Robyn                                                                                                            Hike: Signal Knob-Meneka Peak

Date: 6.16.07                                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: I really enjoyed this hike.  Traffic on the trail was light, but was amazed to see a couple of bikes.  This trail has some great overlooks to stop, take a few pics, and catch your breath.  You need to wear good shoes - the trails are very rocky.  I didn't feel the tower was really noisy and the Signal Knob overlook was a great shady spot to break for lunch and hang out.  Not much to see on the Meneka Peak, but fun trail (and I'm sure it beats the fire road).  Good solid 11 mile work-out.

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Name: Cham Green                                                                                                 Hike: Signal Knob - Meneka Peak
Date: 7/29-7/30/06                                                                                               Rating: 3

Critique: This can be a reasonably pleasant few miles, but in late July the first overlook was overgrown with limited visibility.  The trail can be slow moving due to the scree, and it can be extremely crowded due to Signal Knob's proximity to metropolitan areas.  Jeff is right, the signal tower is noisy, the industrial town of Strasburg isn't very picturesque at the Knob overlook.  However, you can get a solid 10-12 miles out of this with a good elevation change, I liked the less-used and less-rocky Tuscarora Trail.  Watch out for bears and snakes.  For a more detailed write up, please visit the July 31st entry of http://chamspage.blogspot.com .

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Name: Jeff Schneider                                                                                              Hike: Signal Knob / Meneka Peak Loop
Date: Aug 20 2005                                                                                                   Rating: 5

Critique: A challenging hike not too far away. The climb up to Signal Knob is rocky and gradual. Signal Knob is a comfortable, spacious overlook, but right next to a Tower emitting noise.

I did this on my own earlier, following the PATC guidebook. With my group, I followed this site's directions and cut across on the Meneka Peak trail. It's much better this way, as you stay in a deep forest the whole time on a nice ridge. The PATC loop takes you on a fire road for a bit.

Thanks for the site!

Here's a link with a write-up and photos
http://www.marylandoutdoorclub.org/events/archivedetails.asp?eventid=422

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