This is an account of searching for and hiking a trail that the Forest Service discontinued some years ago, located on Crawford Mountain. For me, the best hiking is all about exploring, and I've already explored all of the current trails out this way. I'm glad I finally checked the box so I know I've explored this area, but there is nothing Instagram-worthy in this account.
About Crawford Mountain
Crawford Mountain is located in the George Washington National Forest's North River Ranger District - the largest district in the GWNF and my favorite for hiking. It is just north of Elliott Knob, the highest point in Northern Virginia and is connected to Elliott Knob via trails that run the crest of Great North Mountain. Both Crawford Mtn and Elliot Knob are prominently visible as I descend on Interstate 64 into Waynesboro.
Crawford Mountain does not have a vista that equals that of Elliott Knob (few places do!), so it does not attract the same level of interest from hikers. And Crawford Mountain, at 3766 feet elevation, does not match Elliott Knob's 4460 foot height. But Crawford Mountain has three trails to its summit, providing unique experiences. They include:
- The Chimney Hollow Trail from the northwest, with a trailhead on US 250 marked by a prominent trail sign. This is the single most accessible trail in the North River Ranger District because its trailhead is on a major road.
- The Crawford Knob Trail from the east, which has been painstakenly resurrected over the past two years by members of the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. The transformation of this trail is absolutely remarkable, and hiking it is highly recommended!
- The Crawford Mountain Trail from the south, which connects to the North Mountain Trail and Elliott Knob.
We think we located the other end of that ATV trail. You can see it in the photo below, taken near one of the electric towers. It is circled in the photo below.