Updated on February 9, 2021
Hiking Strickler Knob and Duncan Knob in George Washington National Forest
Aug 2nd, 2020, I headed towards the northern district of George Washington National Forest and hiked two of its most popular trails, Strickler Knob and Duncan Knob. Both trails started from a country road deep in the forest and led to a cluster of boulders towering above surrounding trees with panoramic views.
I left home at 9:30am, and took I66-US340 to Luray where I picked up some supplies from its rural Walmart. So by the time I reached the trailhead of Strickler Knob, it was already noon.
Here’s GPS tracking:
After crossing a small creek, half of the trail’s 300m elevation gain took place in the first quarter of its 4.4km distance, making it a decent workout. The trial had a cushy double-track width for this part, but it was a bit overgrown and from time to time grass was uncomfortably ticking my calves. Adding to my headache, there were quite some small but annoying flies in the woods, not as atrocious as my visit to Utah two months ago, but still they took away some of the fun and forced me to be constantly on the move.
About half the distance to Strickler Knob, the trail entered an intersection with Scothorn Gap Trail. I didn’t recall the different trails at the intersection to be well-marked, just that it’s a four-way intersection, and Strickler Knob Trail was the most traveled one heading straight there.
Another kilometer after that, the trail reached another intersection/open area. From here on the remaining 1.1km to Strickler Knob was described as “rocky and narrow” by a sign.
The undergrowth was thick throughout, and in some areas the trail wasn’t very obvious. Thankfully the trail was marked by an abundance of pink marks on the ground, making it hard to lose.
Before reaching Strickler Knob, there were a few overlooks, pointing west along the trail, that didn’t require rock scrambling, adding to the teaser of sceneries.
Finally, at about 2:30pm, I arrived at Strickler Knob.
At Strickler Knob, I took some time to appreciate the scenery nearby.
And of course, I had some fun with my drone on Strickler Knob.
And by the time I headed back down, it was 3pm.
A brief conclusion about other forms of life I encountered today, apart from annoying bugs of course.
I hastened my pace going downhill, and reached the trailhead parking lot at 4:20pm. After some brief snacks, I continued on Crisman Hollow Road for 2.7km and reached the trailhead of Duncan Knob / Gap Creek.
Just like Strickler Knob, Duncan Knob Trail took about 300m in elevation gain to some soaring rocks. But its shorter 5.3km roundtrip distance meant it’s steeper from start to finish.
Here’s GPS tracking:
It’s probably not as famous as Strickler Knob. While I ran into a few other groups at Strickler Knob, I only met one at Duncan Knob. And soon, I seemed to understand why.
At about 1.7km, the trail reached a three-way intersection, with the other direction being a 2.6km trail leading back to Strickler Knob Trail. And at 2.1km, the trail reached a final intersection, with an open campground nearby.
Approaching Duncan Knob, the ground started to get rocky.
Finally, it became so rocky that trees could no longer grow on them. That’s the final 100m or so, where I scrambled across an exposed rocky field to the top of Duncan Knob.
While on rocks, the trail wasn’t well marked, but the scrambling itself (about class 2) wasn’t too technical, and I did one direction of it without gloves.
Once on top of Duncan Knob, I enjoyed soothing breeze with views of various mountain ranges.
Unlike Strickler Knob, which offered panoramic views, views from Duncan Knob were mostly to the south and west. This probably explained its unpopularity.
If one had to find a plus side, the villages in Shenandoah Valley were farther off and partly blocked by trees, giving it a more secluded feeling.
And I shall conclude with two photos from my drone.
After about 25 minutes on Duncan Knob, I headed back downhills, and was back with my car 2.5 hours after starting my hike.