Early last year, I climbed the highest point on Shenandoah Mountain, Reddish Knob, and recounted that trip in Hiking Upward. Link. More recently, I hiked to the top of High Knob, just south of where U.S. 33 crosses the state boundary west of Harrisonburg. This is also on Hiking Upward. Link. The hike described here follows Shenandoah Mountain between these two points.
|The southern end of the SMT, where it meets the road from
Reddish Knob to Flagpole Knob.
This hike is further complicated as, once you reach the ridge of Shenandoah Mountain on the road to the southern trailhead, you turn right at an intersection where, if you turn left, you summit Reddish Knob. After this intersection, the quality of the road drops dramatically as it climbs towards Flagpole Knob. It was a long slog to the trailhead, using a four wheel drive pickup truck. I'm not doing it in my Outback.
And once we got out of the truck at the trailhead, we spied a large RV that was so new that it still had a paper temporary plate, camping next to the trailhead. The owner came over and talked to us, and told us how he was going to need to repair parts of the RV's undercarriage after bringing it up to the trailhead. He had brought it up there as a dry run for a June event being held for ham radio operators. So, maybe I could do it in my Outback, but not without pain to the vehicle!
|Bother Knob summit.
At the five mile mark, the trail reaches an old woods road, which it uses to traverse the ridge for almost exactly a mile. At the six mile mark, the trail drops off the ridge to the west (left), as the road continues onto private property. Off the road, the trail continues the theme of steep ups and downs until it reaches the High Knob Trail at 7.3 miles. The High Knob Trail drops steeply down to the USFS Brandywine Campground, or it heads up to the ridge and a stone fire tower that is worth seeing!
While it adds another mile to the hike, High Knob has a wonderful fire tower at its summit and it is an awesome structure with a fantastic view. High Knob is most often reached coming from the north - the portion of the trail at the end of this trip. The Shenandoah Mountain Trail continues straight one mile to a large parking lot on U.S. 33, just below the summit on the West Virginia side. This small portion of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail is by far the most popular hike in this part of the national forest and likely to be the only time you will see other hikers on this route.