Elizabeth Furnace

4.27 out of 5
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↑ 6,200 ft
↓ 4,300 ft
elevation (ft)

Trail Description
About this trail
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).
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Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
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Recommended Trails
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Fountainhead Regional Park
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Recent Trail Check-ins     (67 total check-ins)
  catdaddy1972   on Aug 4, 2019
  Helena Kotala   on Jun 17, 2019
  Helena Kotala   on Jun 16, 2019
  Helena Kotala   on Jun 15, 2019
  Timothy Markley   on Jan 1, 2019
Photo & Video Gallery (33)
Trail Photos & Videos (33)
Reviews (16)

Bunny Hop

November 3, 2016
RonMexico Bunny Hop  
Review: Awesome trail. Did it back in 2003. On my old GT Outpost hardtail. My teeth still hurt.

Similar Trail: Gambrill/Frederick Watershed, Michaux SF


September 23, 2016
Review: Great, rugged trail system. Be prepared to do some hike-a-bike and bring a lot of water. There is a water pipe on the firewood near where orange and purple trails cross to fill up.

Granny Gear

June 2, 2016
Dylan Judy Granny Gear  
Review: Returned to my home trail in May of 2016 after a decade of riding other parts of the USA. This is my favorite natural singletrack trail, period.. Hands down. If you like big rocks, steep and technical climbs/descents, then this is a place for you. The Signal Knob loop takes a lot of strength some trials skills to navigate without dabbing. I have cleared every section at least once, but never all in one day. Very challenging.

Similar Trail: something less technical, ha


August 16, 2015
dlnelson15 Gramcounter  
Review: This is a trail for advanced riders. Like the other reviews said you either are going to love or hate it is that simple. It has to be one of the most technical trails in the Northern Virginia area.
This is very rugged terrain with lots of rocks. You can say it is nature at its best little human intervention but it is just plain rugged with a few fire roads mixed in. Be prepared to do some hiking in some areas near the top but the views and experience is well worth it. Let's just say you will have to hike-a-bike in some areas as the rocks are not rideable. The fire road up to Signal Knob is steep and will require everything you have to climb it. Expect your legs and lungs to be burning when you get to the top. Plan ahead and take plenty of water as it will be required. Expect to get your feet wet while crossing the several creek crossings or just dismount and cross on the rocks.
Might I recommend the following route if this is your first time out here. Take a picture of the trail maps with your phone or camera and put your phone in airplane mode so your battery won't die as there is no signal out here anyway. Leaving the Signal Knob parking lot take the Orange Blue trail up to the Blue trail, then pick up the White trail on the left across from the Maneka Peak Trail sign which says it is 2.8 M This trail will take you to the Purple trail or Bear Wallow Trail. Never fear if you pass it there is a pink trail further up on the left that will connect you to the purple trail. Then stay on the Purple trail till you get to the Orange Trail/Fire Road. This will take you up past the Strasburg Reservoir. The Orange Trail keeps going to Signal Knob. About .8 M past the reservoir you can pick up the Blue Trail or continue up to Signal Knob. Once at the top after a rest and checking out the views you can continue on the Orange trail which is very technical/rocky and ride/hike to the White trail. Please note the Orange trail from here on is mostly un-rideable and will require much hiking. Trust me I learned the hard way. If you take the White trail up to Maneka Peak it is technical and will require some hiking but it isn't too bad. It connects to the Blue trail on the top of the Mt. Turn left and hike down the Blue Trail a little and then it becomes rideable. Then it is technical downhill fun from here on all the way down to the Signal Knob parking lot. Be careful on the switch backs as they are sharp.
Finally, this ride is not for the faint of heart but will challenge your skills as a mountain biker. Plan for at least four hours or more for this ride/route. If you ride this route/trail it will require excellent physical condition and fitness because it will test your core strength.


July 13, 2015
Tuga Rider Gramcounter  
Review: This is a trail that you either going to love or hate it, that simple.
This is rugged terrain, nature at its best and with very little human intervention, other than the fire roads.
Plenty of climbing and downhill, in both it will include a good share of dismounting as you will be going through plenty of rocks that I seriously doubt anyone would be able to do it on a bike.
There are some sections of fire roads, one in particular you will be climbing to the Fire Tower, it is long and the last portion is very steep, it will burn on your legs.
It is best to with some one that knows the trail system well, you will be away from civilization, I mean away.
Also lots of water will be required, there is a water hole with very good spring water, though again unless you go with someone that knows the trail system well, you will not find it and run out of water.
There are several creeks crossings and some will also require to dismount.
Not for the novice, this trail does require good physical condition and fitness.
Overall a great combination of biking, hiking and nature!!!!

December 12, 2014
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.

Granny Gear

August 19, 2014
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.

July 25, 2014
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)


July 10, 2014
dgh716 Gramcounter  
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


December 3, 2013
Alex NIN Doubletrack  
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

Elizabeth Furnace MTB Trail 4.27 out of 5 based on 16 ratings. 16 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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Feature Article
Mountain Biking George Washington and Jefferson National Forests