Elizabeth Furnace

Actions Embed


↑ 6,200 ft
↓ 4,300 ft
elevation (ft)
avg mph
avg time

4.10 out of 5
About This Trail
added by Guest on August 4, 2004
actions now above photo
This was a tough ride over advanced terrain due to elevation changes, and frequency and types of obstacles. Terrain is a mix of doubletrack fire roads and singletrack with several, extended rock gardens, rock outcroppings, technical climbs and descents, and the distance will probably vary considerably depending on how you build your loop. It is in the Appalachian foothills (Shenandoah Range), so expect some serious climbing (well, at least for us East Coasters). The saving grace is that a good portion of this was on the initial fireroad section, so establishing something of a cadence was not impossible (loose gravel and sand in the climbs is not conducive to great speed, necessarily). I would suggest getting a trail map; the blue trail is extremely advanced, very rocky, and would most likely require even the more advanced intermediate riders to dismount and walk portions (admittedly, it was tough just hiking it with the rocks, and in bike cleats). There are 4-5 creek crossings that were encountered, 3 of which were significant due to depth and large, slick rock. It was a fantastic ride, and took us about 4.5-5 hours to complete. Bring plenty of fluids, food (nothing around for miles), first aid kit, and full suspension (you could do this on a hardtail, but rear travel made this a lot more enjoyable I think). I will definitely do this ride again, and possibly take part in the Shenandoah Mtn 100 race next year (I'd do it this year, but considering the shape I'm in, it would probably kill me).
Rider Questions
Recommended Trails
Gambrill State Park
Get Local
Trail Activity
what's this?
Recent Trail Check-ins
6 check-ins
on Jan 2, 2015
on Jan 1, 2015
on Sep 21, 2014
on Aug 10, 2014
on Dec 1, 2013
Guest on December 11, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: One of the best trails in Virginia. They are technically hiking trails, but are loads of fun to the seasoned trail rider. Don't come out here on your huffys and flat pedals, then complain about the difficulty of the ride. For those that seek a true challenge and fun, technical trails, you will be at home here. You will make mistakes, and you will hike your bike some. This is all part of mountain biking. If you want some easy flowing trail, get a road bike.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
wheeledgoat on August 19, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: I pretty much agree with the rest of the reviews here, except I don't remember it being all *that* hard. It's a challenge, to be sure (and I too have gotten comments from hikers along the lines of "you're here on a BIKE??). I'm a casual rider, grew up on the east coast, and did this trail many times during my college years at Shenandoah. It was (and still is) my favorite trail, even after living in CO and now IL, and riding my share of trails including Fruita & Moab. Perhaps my attitude has an effect on my perceptions, though; my approach isn't "lets see how fast I can ride today" but rather "I'm here to enjoy nature, escape daily life for a while and have a good ride." Signal Knob's got a little of everything and is a great 1-day adventure. Even before you get to the top, there are legendary views of valleys and wonderfully rich forests. Sure, there's some tough sections, and spots that I cannot imagine any human being able to bike through (requiring a bit of bike portage) but the miles of only slightly technical downhill singletrack switchbacks make it all worth it in the end. All in all a really great day out, most certainly worth your time.

UPDATE 9/22/14:
The trail is much different now than what I reviewed above. Many, many more rocks than there were 15 years ago. I think erosion is part of it, but there is at least one section of trail I'm 100% sure has been re-routed from days of old and is decidedly less bike friendly now. I cannot recommend this trail for bikes anymore, at all, I don't care how advanced you are. It's not fun. (I'm talking about the loop that is "Signal Knob Trail" up and then blue "Bear Wallow" back down.) This trail USED to kick ass, but it's so different now it may as well be taken off of any "mountain bike" list. Great for hiking and back country camping, though! Several camping spots along Signal Knob Trail as you go up.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
Guest on July 25, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: I rode this trail a couple summers ago. This is not for beginners, new intermediate riders or the feint of heart. I did the 15 mile loop going up the fire road, past the reservoir and then the super steep ascent to the top. The last part of the uphill was super steep, totally unrideable and a hike-a-bike. There were groups of hikers coming down the trail that thought I was crazy to have a bike out there. I consider myself to be a very strong intermediate/expert rider. I would say that truly 1/3 of this loop was unrideable. Once I finished the initial ascent the trail continues uphill along the ridge at a much easier grade but there were so many rocks and my legs were cooked from the climb/hike that I could not ride them. "Extended rock gardens" is being kind here. There were half mile uphill rock gardens after the 5 mile fire road uphill peddle. Unless you are Sven from Sweeden with treetrunk legs, you will be miserable on this trail. I read the multi mile down hill after the fire road climb was the big payoff. I was so exhausted and out of water that I could not enjoy it. Other than seeing a full grown eastern diamond back rattler and a black bear, the rest of the day was torture for me. Would not go back. (maybe to hike but not bike)

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
dgh716 on July 10, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: My new favorite place to ride. The best technical rock riding area I've been to. Some of the trail has no dirt, just rock to rock. There is some hike-a-bike up over some unridable rock gardens. Some of those same rock gardens can be ridden if going down hill depending on skills and/or confidence. Beautiful views almost everywhere on the trails with many overlooks of the mountains and valleys. I'd say its more of a place for good experienced riders. New riders may get frustrated with all the technical stuff because it can be non-stop for quite a distance at a time. Be careful and have plenty of time to do the whole ride. Had a blast and will be back there for sure. 5 stars

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
The Void on December 2, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Great technical challenge with tough climbs and amazing downhill. Yes there is fire road to climb and the last bit up to signal knob is brutal but the reward of great steep rocky downhill is totally worth it. Take orange from parking lot to blue, left on white, Rt on purple follow fire road to it's end continue on purple to the Rt, follow stream five crossings total, then orange fire road to left on orange singletrack around reservoir back to orange fire rd all the way up to signal knob for an amazing view. Then take trail to menaka peak lots of hike a bike back to blue trail for epic downhill all the way back to parking lot. Clockwise in direction see map I uploaded in the photos section. Overall a great technical challenge with killer views

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
John Fisch on September 7, 2009
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Here's the good--these are beautiful woods with a very remote feel, easily accessable from the interstate. Thre are some superb downhill sections and some great, technical climbs/descents and rock gardens on fairly level ground. Trail is usually not as crowded as you'd think, given it's virtues. Here's the bad--Lots of fire road required to make a loop. The last pitch of fire road is very steep with loose sand and loose rocks and will suck the life out of you're legs--many will walk the last half mile. Here's the ugly--unrideable rocks, and lots of them. Dismounts will be frequent and lenghty for anybody not named "Hans." It's like mother nature's observed trials course with jagged rocks everywhere seemingly placed at the most inconvenient angles. Even on the downhills, you will dismount from time to time and work hard for every mile of singletrack. Overall, this is a most worthy trail that will challenge even advanced riders. For those with strong technical skills (mostly low speed, not the downhill racer type), it will be worth the trip. Unfortunately, the high proportion of fire road and hike-a-bike make it hard to give this trail a top recommendation. Definitely worth doing once in a while--I don't think I'd make a habit of it.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
rjensrud on May 13, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: One thing that I have to say about Elizabeth’s Furnace is do not get lost. We recently had an excursion (unguided) that ended up being a 10 mile hike-a-bike. I would suggest having a guide that is familiar with the trails and plot your travels on your GPS. I will return with a guide, and find what everyone is raving about. Suggestion, Bring more water then you think you will need and tell a friend or loved one where you’re going. That picture of all the boulders is not edited and was about ¾ of the trail I that we climbed/hiked. There is a little bike shop with an employee (Matt) that is willing to take tours out for the day for a reasonable price.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
Lawmaster87 on August 29, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This trail area has a lot of fire roads and stupid climbs; many hills are unclimbable. The downhills and everything in the park = Rocks, Rocks, and more Rocks. Most of the trails are 98% rocks. Very technical and multiple hike-a-bike sections. All of the areas you spend hiking up are greatly rewarded by challenging singletrack downhill that gets endless at some locations. Come prepared, see how far you can climb, and enjoy the unlimited range of trail options. This is a trail area that is perfect to test the abilities of your bike and yourself. Strongly recommend a trail map and a lot of time to have a journey rather than a quick loop.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
Half_Moon_Mountain_Outfi on January 4, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: There are many trails in the "Elizabeths Furnace recreation area. The trail the is probably the most well know and ridden is actually called Bear Wallow. It is a relatively challenging climb up to the ridge top, where you can return down to where you came from. Continue across Maneka Peak or descend to the resevoir. All riding in the area is what I would consider to be at least intermediate level. There are gravel fire roads around but the singletrack is rocky. I love it. It is where I learned to ride and have never felt very challenged riding anywhere else on the East Coast. To complete a very difficult loop from Maneka Peak you would descend Signal Knob trail which will bring you back to the parking lot that you started from. The Signal Knob parking area. A little plug for Half Moon Mountain Outfitters in Strasburg, VA I can get you maps of the area, take you riding, fix your bike etc. located just 5 miles from the trailhead. I sell Rocky Mountain and Kona bikes. 540 465-4435 or www.halfmoonbikes.com. There are many other trails to ride close by, even across the street. Shaw Gap is another great ride that can be made into a loop. Also very technical.

Similar Trail: Shaw Gap, Snowshoe, WV

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
DSNAPP on September 13, 2006
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: I started out at the Bear Wallow parking area and just rode uphill. No map, no idea of where I was going. Fun. Expecting merely a good fireroad workout, I was surprised when, on a fast downhill, the road ended suddenly and I found myself bouncing down some moderately technical steep short downhill singletrack. Riding by the creek and through it a few times was a blast and challenging due to wet, sandy, rocky conditions. Mudhole Gap Trail name is appropo. Took a right on gravel road and found Strassburg Reservoir. Cool. Kept going, looking for a way back to car. It was getting a bit late. Took a right at some trail: sign post partially destroyed. Up andup. Got too hard so I hiked a bike til I got scared I'd be overnight on the mountain. So, I backtracked the way I had come. Did not realise how much of my "out" ride was uphill untill the return ride. Awesome 15 mile ride. I will return soon to finish the loop like the last reviewer described. Can't give it a 10; that would be Douthat for me.

Similar Trail: Douthat S.P.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
mook21 on July 23, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This is a great local trail. In fact, if you can ride this, any other trail around, especially those out west, seem rather easy. The best route it to park at the Signal Knob parking lot on the left, or South, side and ride up Bear Wallow (blue). Turn to the left on Sidewinder Trail (pink I think, but its a left after the second major creek crossing) and take to Mud Hole Gap Road. Go up road and through Mud Hole Gap (prettiest part of ride, great single track) to FS road. Take road to right (North) past Strasburg Reservoir. Turn right onto trail leading up mountain blue blazes again. This is a very long, tough climb. After this, the best downhill in the area awaits you! In the beginning, it's technical with some big drops that have serious consequences if you screw up. Then it is just plain fast if you like rocks. You're back on Bear Wallow and it leads back to the car.

Similar Trail: Duncan Hollow

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
Elizabeth Furnace MTB Trail 4.10 out of 5 based on 11 ratings. 11 user reviews.
Get Directions
Create a free Singletracks account to get directions to this trail.

Trail Features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Trail Conditions
< / > embed