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Elevation: 2607 ft.
Elliott Knob forms the crest of Great North Mountain at an elevation of 4463 feet. It is the tallest peak in the Shenandoah Mountain Valley Region. With a small stand of naturally occurring Red Spruce at the top, it supports some wildlife that are typically found at higher altitudes and latitudes. Several sectional hikes provide access to portions of this area along the North Mountain Trail. The access directions and coordinates given below give you the option of two hikes. The one south of the parking area is the North Mountain Trail (FS #443) and the other trail across the road from the parking area is the Mount Crawford Trail (FS #485). The North Mountain trail will take you to Elliotts Knob which is about 4.6 strenuous miles to the summit. The Crawford Mountain Trail to its’ summit is not as long (2.6 miles) but it is also considered a strenuous hike. Both trails are marked with yellow blazes.
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. Hiking here in the spring will produce views of wildflowers and early spring butterflies and skippers.
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.
Note: Parking may be limited during peak season on busy days.