Geoffrey Baker makes his way across Doll Ridge on the Tuscarora Trail during the 2017 Elizabeth Furnace 50 km.

Diane Behm

Elizabeth Furnace 50 km

A rocky, technical 50 km near the northern end of the Massanutten range. Named for nearby Elizabeth Furnace, one of four iron blast furnaces operated in Fort Valley during the 19th Century.

  • Sat Mar 13, 2021
Start location
Start time
  • 7:00 am
  • 30.5 miles
Total ascent/descent
  • 6,400 feet
Aid stations
  1. Mudhole Gap (10.3 miles)
  2. Elizabeth Furnace (21.8 miles)
GPX file
Print or download
Sunrise & sunset
  • Begin civil twilight 5:59 am
    Sunrise 6:25 am
    Sunset 6:18 pm
    End civil twilight 6:45 pm
What to wear
In charge
Course records
  • James Fogg
    4:52:55 (in 2018)
    Robin Watkins
    6:00:36 (in 2017)

The course

The Elizabeth Furnace 50K course is very challenging, composed primarily of mountainous, technical single-track trails, with some stretches of fire roads. Since the event is being held in the mountains in late winter, the weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared! Virtually the entire course is forested, so blowdowns and other trail obstacles may be encountered. Under normal conditions there will not be any significant stream crossings, but wet feet and mud are likely on the Mudhole Gap and lower Sherman Gap portions of the run, and in wetter years, on other portions of the course. And the five stream crossings in the Mudhole Gap section may, under unusual circumstances, turn into significant water obstacles (see 2010 event photos). If you are not used to running for extended periods unaided on very technical trail, you may want to pass on this run.

Elizabeth Furnace 50 km elevation profile
Elizabeth Furnace 50 km elevation profile.

All runners must carry turnsheets describing the various blazed trails that will be followed over the course of the run. The turnsheet may be downloaded in the sidebar. Be sure to print it out and bring it with you, as it won’t be available at the start. There will be no other trail markings other than the blazes.

Anyone doing this run should also have the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s Map “G” Massanutten Mountain-North Half (George Washington National Forest, VA and WV, VA-56 southward to US-211). It is available at many area outdoor stores as well as online at the PATC site.

If you are prone to getting lost on trail runs with unmarked trails, then this run is not for you. If you are color-blind, this run also may not be for you? The course is well marked, but it is marked only by the blazing along the trails.

Aid stations

This year’s event will be all but self-supported. The runners traditionally provide the aid for the two aid stations. For 2021 you will provide your own aid. We will supply water bottles, but you otherwise need to bring your aid, which you will seal in a clear, ziplock bag. Be advised that the bag will not be returned, so only put in that bag what you won’t need to see again after the event. Be also advised that your ziplock bag needs to be labeled with your name.

Aid StationSplitCumulativeCutoffMap
Mudhole Gap10.3 mi10.3 mi
Elizabeth Furnace11.5 mi21.8 mi2:30 pm

The traditional first aid station at Mudhole Gap (mile 10.3) will be water only for 2021. No ziplock bags are needed or will be transported to this aid station for this year’s event. The second aid station will be in the Elizabeth Furnace parking lot (mile 21.8). Here is where you will find your ziplock bag, as well as another water opportunity. There will be no aid at the finish, so be sure to bring something for your own needs post-run.


There is only one cut off: Runners arriving at the Elizabeth Furnace aid station at 21.8 miles after 2:30 PM will be asked not to continue — not that anyone getting there after 7-1/2 hours would be likely to try to continue, especially with the evil climb on the pink trail up to Shermans Gap looming. That final loop of Shermans to Shawl gaps, with a particularly rocky and rolling section of ridge trail connecting them, takes most mid and back of the pack runners close to the 3 hours to negotiate. It is not easy — but it is great training and big fun!


Normally we love having a slew of volunteers come out to play in the mountains with us on an early spring Saturday. This year, not so much, unfortunately. Due to the pandemic, we want to minimize the number of folks at the event, so not only will we ask you to wait for the return of normal times and 2022 to volunteer, but we also ask that runners not bring crew or spectators to the event. Thanks!

Directions to the start at Signal Knob:

From the DC Beltway (I-495) take 1-66 West approx. 60 miles to US 340 south (Exit 6, - the second Front Royal exit). Follow US 340 south 1.1 miles to the traffic light at VA Route 55. Turn right onto VA 55 and follow it west for 5.2 miles to Waterlick. Turn left (south) onto VA Route 678. Follow VA 678 1.8 miles into George Washington National Forest, and a total of 3.4 miles to the marked entrance of the Signal Knob parking lot, located on the right-hand side of the road. Plenty of parking spaces are available in this lot. Map.

Last updated February 15, 2021

Club Event Participant Medical Policy

This is an event with very real risks to your well being. The VHTRC does not provide medical care for runners at this event. Runners are responsible for their own health, safety, and well being at this event. No doctors, nurses, or emergency medical technicians, or anyone with any medical training are available along the course, at any aid station, or at the finish. The club does not supply any medical goods or services, including bandages, splints, antiseptic, or Ibuprofen or any other drugs to maintain the health of runners. Physical, medical, and emergency care is the runners' responsibility. In case of an emergency, we will endeavor to get local emergency personnel to an injured runner as soon as possible. Since most of our events are in remote areas, medical care may be far away in distance or time. Each year, runners finish — or are forced to drop out — with scrapes, deep cuts, hematomas, dislocations, and sprains. Runners have experienced cuts, bruises, bee stings, and asthma attacks. This is an event with very real risks.