Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Signal Knob Trail Run/Report

Signal Knob lies on the north-west tip of the Massanutten Mountain range. It is located in the George Washington National Forest, just west of Shenandoah National Park. During the Civil War Confederate Soldiers held an outpost on top and had a birds eye view of the valleys below. Signal Knob is the large mountain to the east of Strasburg, VA. It is a dominating feature as you drive south on Interstate 81 towards the Strasburg exit. There currently is a large broadcast antenna on the top of the mountain. This antenna is located a few 100 feet east of the official "Signal Knob" overlook. The trail-head is located on Fort Valley Road and can be accessed via Route 55 from Front Royal or Strasburg Virginia (Lat/Long 38.934577, -78.320203).

When hiking the Signal Knob loop you will actually hike on the Signal Knob Trail, the Tuscarora Trail, and the Massanutten Mountain Trail. The Hiking Upward site does a great job describing the trails and has a map.This area is known for its rocks and this trail is no exception. There are sections where I had a hard time walking and there are very few runnable sections. The initial ascent up the Signal Knob trail is 1500 feet in 3.5 miles. I was able to run some up the ascent if the trail was not to rocky. The next mile is a little descent and flat. This is the most runnable trail section. I ran along this ridge and hit the Signal Knob overlook. After taking some pictures I continued on. The next 1.5 miles are a steep descent on a fire road. This was by far my fastest section due to the even terrain and downhill running.After a left on the the Tuscarora Trail I climbed up over the a ridge again. This is the steepest climb on the trail, 600 feet in 3/4 of a mile. It is all down hill from the top of this ridge. At this point I started to have issues with my new Montail Hardrock trail runners. It was a long trip down with the foot rubbing, but I made it to the car. Bailey was very tired at this point. I got the the car and changed shoes and ran 2 more miles before calling it a day. I covered only 12 miles in all, but the elevation and rocky conditions made it feel like 20.It felt great to get back on the trail again after almost 2 weeks off with my foot injury. My foot is feeling 100% again and has not bothered me at all. In hindsight I am glad I took the time off and now feel fresh and ready to train hard for my next race.Stats: 12 miles 3:10 / 10 mile loop in 2:36 / Time to tower 1:13
Links: Signal Knob Elevation Profile, Signal Knob HR and Pace

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