Elliott Knob Area – North Mountain and Elliott Knob Trails
Elevation: 2607 ft.
Elliott Knob forms the crest of Great North Mountain at an elevation of 4463 feet. Two trails, both marked with yellow blazes, access the Elliott Knob area from this location – Elliott Knob Trail (south from the parking area) and North Mountain Trail (south of the road). The Elliott Knob Trail is approximately a 4.5-mile (one-way) strenuous hike to Elliott Knob. The entire North Mountain Trail (FT #443) is 15.12 miles long, marked with yellow blazes, and moderate in difficulty. It crosses the top of the Shenandoah Mountain at Elliott’s Knob, then travels along the Great North Mountain and into Crawford Mountain.
Hiking in the Elliott Knob area can be productive for finding unique neotropical breeding songbirds. Mostly comprised of mature old-growth hardwood forests, with large oaks, maples, beech, and scattered pines, Elliott Knob is the nesting ground for scarlet tanager, black-throated blue warbler, and yellow-billed cuckoo. Spring and fall migration can bring a larger diversity of songbirds. Extensive and lengthy trails lead to high elevation points, offering open vistas from which broad-winged hawks might be seen during fall migration. Also at these points rests a small strand of Red Spruce which supports higher altitude wildlife. Kettles of turkey vultures are almost directly at eye level. Snakes, such as northern copperhead, lurk in the leaf litter of the woodlands. Northern fence lizard and five-lined skink scatter along the forest floor as well. Though rarely seen, keep an eye out for mammals such as black bear and red fox.
Note: The Forest Service recommends that all trail users carry a reliable map at all times, which will be particularly useful in this area as there are many trailheads and intersecting, connecting trails. See website for trail map information.
North Mountain Trail Access Coordinates: 38.213306, -79.296061
From Staunton, VA: Travel west on SR 254 thru the town of Buffalo Gap. Continue for approximately 1 mile. Turn right on SR 688/ Old Parkersburg Turnpike Rd and follow this road to the top of the mountain. North Mountain Trail is on the left. Crawford Mountain Trail is on the right.
From the Previous Site on the Forest Trails Loop of VBWT:
From the Augusta Springs Wetland Trail, return north on SR 42 for 7.0 miles to Rt. 688. Turn left on Rt. 688/Old Parkersburg Turnpike, travel for 3.6 miles, and then turn left at the turnoff by the gate. The North Mountain Trail is south of the road; the Crawford Mountain Trail is north of the road.