Hikers, mountain bikers, hunters, campers, family picnickers, bird watchers, wildflower enthusiasts, and others have been attracted to Massanutten Mountain ever since the forest service obtained the land in the early 1900s. Thanks to volunteers with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club who completed a multi-year trail construction project on Massanutten Mountain in 2001, there is now a perfect week-long backpacking opportunity. By building new routes to connect with existing pathways—such as the Massanutten East and West trails, and Signal Knob, Duncan Hollow, and Waterfall Mountain trails—PATC has made it possible to walk a 71-mile loop officially named the Massanutten Trail.
Rock outcroppings and other spots provide an abundance of views of the Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, and the two forks of the Shenandoah River. The far-reaching vista from Signal Knob makes it easy to see why Confederates used the vantage point to observe Federal troop activity; the Woodstock Observation Tower, built as a tourist attraction in 1935, overlooks the world-famous horseshoe bends of the Shenandoah. Optional side routes let you take in the sights from Buzzard Rocks and, after a bit of an off-trail rock scramble, Duncan Knob.
With just a few exceptions, backcountry camping is permitted anywhere along the trail. If you desire a roof over your head, stay at the club-maintained Little Crease Shelter on the mountain’s eastern ridgeline. The trail also passes through the forest service’s Camp Roosevelt campground, while the Elizabeth Furnace Campground is accessed via a .4-mile sidetrip.
A guidebook may be obtained through www.potomacappalachian.org.