Trip Report: Southern Massanutten Loop

On Saturday morning, we picked Logan up from his place nearby and hit the road. Along the drive on I-81, we ran into some of the Elliot Knob crew—at Sheetz of course! By 9:45 AM, we were ready to depart from the shuttered Massanutten Visitors Center on 211. 

The trail quickly connected to the Massanutten Trail and started climbing. Although the temperature was near freezing, we warmed up quickly on the climb and had to shed layers. At the top, we paused to enjoy the view, which was still beautiful even on a cloudy day. 

The trail continued along the ridge and we came to a junction. Without consulting the map, I ushered the group to continue on the Massanutten Trial. About ten minutes later, we realized that we should have stayed right towards Bird Knob. My accidental mini-shortcut probably cost us a half-mile less of trail and a view. 

Soon the Massanutten Trail became a stretch of dirt road for a few miles. Then we crossed Pitt Spring Run and started climbing again along a wide and grassy forest road. We passed by a large hunting camp set up near a small pond.

The sky was getting more consistently more stormy-looking so we decided to take a lunch break before the potential for the predicted afternoon rain had a chance to arrive. The trail continued along the flat ridge for a little while longer and then started to descend towards Fridley Gap. It was pleasant, if a little rocky compared to the rest of the southern Massanutten Trail. 

We took another short break before starting the rather steep climb up the Fridley Gap Trail. From there, we descended to Cub Run Road. At the trail-road junction, we noticed the small “Caution, hidden camera” sign and discussed what they were hoping to catch on camera–and whether there even was a camera. 

The walk along Cub Run Rd went pretty smoothly. A few raindrops convinced us to prepare for the worst but it never really rained. Around 4:30 PM, we spotted a large, inviting campsite near the stream a little ways off the road. We had planned to walk one more mile that day but decided that choosing the better site would be worth leaving the mile until morning.

After we set up, Logan and I collected wood while Karan got the fire going. We managed to enjoy it for a few hours while we ate dinner and chatted about the merits of daylight savings time and having the Super Bowl on a Saturday instead of Sunday. At one point, Karan came across a mouse that seemed unperturbed by his attempt to shoo it away from our tent.

Around 7:00PM, a little rain shower sent Logan and I retreating to our tents. Karan watched over the fire for a little while longer but we were all in bed by 7:30 PM. It rained a fair amount overnight but it was dry and windy when we got up on Sunday. 

We finished that last mile of roadwalking at Elizabeth Furnace and turned off onto the Roaring Run Trail. The trail climbed very gradually to the top where it connected to Browns Hollow Trail. By this time, the sky had cleared completely and the sun lit up the ridge on our left, which surprisingly still had some fall colors on it. The descent along Browns Hollow Trail was fairly gentle and passed by a few nice campsites. Just one more climb and we arrived back at the cars. We celebrated the successful trip at Uncle Buck’s in Luray.

I really enjoyed revisiting this trail. Sure, there is roadwalking and it’s light on views but the trail is pleasant and the miles come pretty easily. I’ll be back!

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