Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Crawford Knob Trail, GWNF

This posting is part of my effort to document trails in the North River District of the George Washington National Forest that don't have much in the way of online descriptions.  The Crawford Knob Trail (#487) climbs from Lone Fountain near Churchville to Crawford Knob before connecting with the Crawford Mountain Trail (#485) and the Chimney Hollow Trail (#489).  These trails are about 5 miles north of Elliott Knob.

To get to the trailhead, drive west on US 250 about 1.5 miles past the VA 42 north intersection in Churchville to the town of Lone Fountain.  Take a left on Rt. 720, Jerusalem Chapel Road, and stay on this road until you get to the namesake church on your right.  Immediately after the church is the gravel McKittrick Road (FR 1269).  This road takes you to the trail, though a USFS North River District document I've received indicates that the gate near the church is only open from April 1 to May 16 every year.  I was lucky - had no idea when it was open when I hiked here but I was able to drive right to the trail. Since about 90% of the road goes through private lands - Forest Service property is at the very end - it is curious why this road would be gated at all.  From the church to the trailhead was 2 miles on McKittrick Road.  Trailhead parking is at the end of the road in a circular turnaround.

Trailhead parking at the end of McKittrick Road

Trail viewed from McKittrick Road.
Mile 0.0 - The trail starts with a metal marker on McKittrick Road about 100 yards short of the trailhead parking.  The trail's first half mile climbs 130 feet before dropping again to cross a stream known as McKittrick's Branch.


Mile 0.6 -  After crossing the stream, ascend steeply for about 20 feet to an old road.  This road bed is actually the original trail from McKittrick Road, but the trail was re-routed decades ago due to private property along the road.  Take a right on this road, and after about 50 yards, cut right and begin a series of ascending switchbacks.

Mile 1.1 - The trail reaches a ridge and climbs the ridge line.

Looking back downhill.
Mile 1.6 - A stream intersects with the trail as it moves downhill, using the trail as its stream bed for a brief period.

Mile 2.0 -  At the time of this hike (April, 2020), the trail becomes very overgrown.  The trail is easy to follow because the growth remains shorter than the surrounding areas and the trail ascends in a straight line.  But this part of the trail is open to the sun, and growth is thick here.

Note the yellow blaze on the tree to the left of the "trail."
Mile 2.8 - The trail opens up again as someone has been trimming vegetation coming from the west.


Mile 3.0 -  The trail reached the summit of Crawford Knob.  There are some social trails that head right (north) but do not appear to reach anything worth exploring.  After this, the trail drops in elevation again, with winter views north towards Elliott Knob, Shenandoah Mountain, and the Deerfield Valley.

Mile 3.8 - After recovering most of its lost elevation, the Crawford Knob Trail ends at a signpost indicating its intersection with the Crawford Mountain Trail.  To the left here, it is 0.2 miles to the intersection with the Chimney Hollow Trail, which continues west to its terminus at U.S. 250. There was a lot of Greenbrier here when I hiked this area six months previous, but much of it had been clipped back in the meantime.  Further south, the Crawford Mountain Trail connects with the North Mountain Trail, which leads to Elliott Knob and beyond. To the right, the Crawford Mountain Trail has been decommissioned by the Forest Service after a local landowner rescinded access through his property on U.S. 250.  It may still be followable further north, but this section, which is fairly flat, does not easily indicate the former trail's route.



Crawford Knob Trail map:



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