OD 100 Northern Trails Loop

This 24.2 mile loop is an excellent training run for the Old Dominion 100 and features a nice mix of steep climbs and runnable road, including the climb up Sherman Gap — generally regarded as the toughest part of the OD100.

  • 24.2 miles
Running time
  • 4–6 hours
Total ascent/descent
  • 4,850 feet
    205 feet/mile
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This 24.2 mile loop is an excellent training run for the Old Dominion 100 and features a nice mix of steep climbs and runnable road, including the climb up Sherman Gap — generally regarded as the toughest part of the OD100.


  1. Leave the Signal Knob Parking Lot on the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail, heading south towards Elizabeth Furnace. (0.5 mi)
  2. At sign, bear left and descend blue- and orange-blazed Tuscarora/Massanutten Trails to Fort Valley Road (Route 678), then across road to Elizabeth Furnace Day Use lot. (0.3 mi)
  3. Continue through parking lot across Passage Creek bridge and locate white-blazed Botts Trail at southeastern (back left) edge of the big parking lot adjacent to Elizabeth Furnace.
  4. Follow relatively level Botts Trail to junction with pink-blazed Sherman Gap Trail. (1.1 mi)
  5. Left on Sherman Gap Trail, and experience a roller coaster until the trail finally turns to ascend to the western ridge of the Massanutten Mountains. (2.6 mi)
  6. Right on combined Tuscarora and Massanutten Trails (orange- and blue-blazed) (0.2 mi)
  7. Left to descend on purple-blazed Sherman Gap Trail to dirt road (Route 613/Panhandle Road). (2.1 mi; Cum = 6.8 mi)
  8. Right on the dirt road (Route 613/Panhandle Road) with general inclines to the blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail head at Veach Gap (blazes are alongside the road, but be alert, as the entrance to the trail head looks like a gravel driveway) (1.8 mi)
  9. Right off Route 613 onto the blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail, and ascend to junction with orange-blazed Massanutten Trail. (1.7 mi)
  10. Right on combined blue- and orange-blazed Tuscarora/Massanutten Trails to junction with Veach Gap Trail at the bottom of this descent into Little Crease (two privies and a camping shelter are here; trail junction is immediately after a stream crossing) (1.0 mi)
  11. Left on yellow-blazed Veach Gap Trail to parking lot at end of Veach Gap Road (Route 774).  This gradual descent includes a short, early stretch where the trail is at times all but included in the Mill Run streambed. (1.1 mi; Cum 12.4)
  12. Continue right and generally down the dirt Veach Gap Road to junction into paved Fort Valley Road (Route 678). (0.9 mi)
  13. Right on Fort Valley Road, then quick left on paved Frenchman Pond Road (also Route 774). (0.1 mi)
  14. Right on dirt Coverstone Road (Route 773), and continue gradual ascent towards western ridge of Massanutten. (0.25 mi)
  15. Continue straight (right) as Coverstone junctions into dirt Boyer Road (Route 771), then left on dirt Mine Mountain Road at its triangle junction with Boyer Road. (1.25 mi)
  16. Right on dirt Forest Road 66 (Powells Fort Camp or Signal Knob Road) just after passing the ruins of Boyers Furnace on your right. (0.6 mi)
  17. Left on purple-blazed Mine Gap Trail, and ascend to junction into orange-blazed Massanutten Trail. (0.1 mi; Cum 15.6)
  18. Right on orange-blazed Massanutten Trail (0.9 mi), and roll along ridge through junction with blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail. (1.1 mi)
  19. Right (and sharp descent) to continue on orange-blazed Massanutten Trail back down to the Forest road 66 at Powells Fort Camp. (0.5 mi)
  20. Left on orange-blazed Massanutten Trail, which is also Forest Road 66, to purple-blazed Mudhole Gap trailhead (0.4 mi; Cum 18.5)) (Note: reliable spring from a pipe is available less than a quarter mile past this trailhead on Forest road 66/orange-blazed Massanutten trail, on the left just prior to reaching a gate).
  21. Right on purple-blazed Mudhole Gap Trail (trail is on far side of camping area), and generally descend on single-track trail, crossing the Little Passage Creek five times in Mudhole Gap.
  22. After the fifth crossing, the single-track trail will take a left away from Little Passage Creek and begin to ascend to a gravel road.  This roadbed is still the purple-blazed Mudhole Gap Trail.
  23. Continue up and then steady descent on the purple-blazed gravel road/Mudhole Gap Trail to the white-blazed Bear Wallow Spur Trail (this trailhead is easy to miss - if you reach the Bear Wallow parking area after a gate, you have gone a short distance too far). (4.1 mi; Cum 22.6)
  24. Left on white-blazed Bear Wallow Spur Trail with slight incline to junction of blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail alongside an unnamed stream. (0.3 mi)
  25. Right on blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail, over the stream and brief incline and then general descent to junction with orange-blazed Massanutten Trail. (0.8 mi)
  26. Left orange-blazed Massanutten Trail, heading north towards Signal Knob Parking Lot. (0.5 mi; Cum 24.2)

Last updated May 19, 2020

What you do is up to you, but you shouldn't rely on these directions alone; they are often not specific enough to navigate by, and may be incorrect or out of date. Review a map beforehand and carry it with you. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not count on having cell phone service while on the run. The VHTRC is not responsible for your welfare on any of these runs. If you go on one of these runs and get lost, run out of water, get injured, mauled by a bear, or die, or if anything else goes wrong, it's your fault; not ours. You assume all risks here and the VHTRC assumes none at all. Legal issues aside, some of these runs are more remote than others and the VHTRC is not suggesting that you do any of these runs, unless you are prepared to accept full responsibility for yourself.