Falls Ridge - North Mountain Loop


Description: This is a strenuous 11.7 mile circuit hike with a 1600 foot elevation gain over the first 2.5 miles. The hike along the ridge offers at least two vistas on a clear day. The first provides a vantage point for both east and west views while the second provides a good view of Massanutten Mt. On a good day you can even make out Signal Knob. The descent along a pipeline swath is both steep and exposed to the sun. Parts of the ridge walk is equally exposed to the sun. Dress accordingly and bring lots of water and sun screen for this one.

In season one might expect to find Fly Poison (a Lily), Dwarf Iris, Mountain Laurel, Pink Lady Slippers and Gray Beardtongue growing along the trails and roads. This is a companion hike to the Laurel Run - Stack Rocks and Laurel Run - Falls Ridge circuits.

Google Custom Directions

Continue on SR 701 (Dellinger Gap Rd), beyond the "End County Maintenance" sign, until it ends at the trailhead gate. Park on the left.


The North Mountain Trail is part of the Great Eastern Trail (GET).



Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users


Trail Notes: As you approach the private drive bear right onto the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Tr and immediately cross Falls Run. This is usually a rock hop at the worst. Proceed up a very eroded wagon road. In 0.19 miles come to a junction of grassy woods roads. There will be an old green bus in the woods to the left. Purple blazed Fat Mt Tr is straight ahead (Your return route). Yellow blazed Falls Ridge Tr is to the right. Turn right. Keep an eye out for a faint yellow blaze on a tree next to a dirt and rock bearm blocking a trail to the left. Turn here and cross the bearm. The trail meanders through an overgrown grassy field for a while before slipping back into some secondary woods that parallels a wide open field to its right.

In another 0.55 miles cross the blue blazed Laurel Run Connector and begin a steep climb. At about 1.37 miles from the last junction you'll come to a white triangle blaze on a tree to the left marking a faint trail. This begins a bushwhack to a waterfall. I've yet to explore it since both times I've hiked the trail there has been little, if any, water coming off of the mountain. Continue up the Falls Ridge Tr for another 0.63 miles. Arrive at the junction of orange blazed North Mountain Tr.

Turn left here. In about 0.93 miles watch for a rock outcrop that juts up to the sky to your right. This is a good vista that provides both easterly and westerly views.

Continue on another 1.58 miles to the next vista. This one has room to lounge in the shade and provides a view of Massanutten Mt and points east.

The next 1.74 miles is pretty flat and goes by rather quickly. At this point reach gravel SR 720. Bear left onto the road and switchback down to where it crosses a pipeline swath. Turn left onto the the pipeline swath (colored red on the map) and descend steeply for 0.71 miles. Keep an eye out for a rock pile and a blue blaze on a tree to the left. Turn left here and cross a stream. This is the Laurel Run Connector.

Cross two more streams. Keep a sharp eye out for a very faded purple blaze on the right. This is the beginning of the Fat Mountain Tr. Turn right here. In about 0.70 miles the trail will almost reconnect with the Laurel Run Connector on the left. Turn right at a purple blazed post and continue to follow the Fat Mt Tr for another 0.74 miles. Arrive back at the old green bus junction. Turn right onto the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Tr and retrace your original steps back to your car.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique this outing!



Name: Kris                                                                                                                   Hike: Falls Ridge- North Mountain loop
Date: 9/13/07                                                                                                            Rating: 4

Critique: I took advantage of a gorgeous September day to complete this hike. I added a couple of miles to make it a full 14 miles. The hike description is right on. I did not give this hike a 5 rating because the last section of the Falls Ridge climb and first mile and a half of the North Mountain Trail is so overgrown. It became quite annoying. The vistas were beautiful. I was also surprised to see a fair amount of fall colors along the hike. A sure sign of cooler weather. The white blaze mentioned for the bushwhack was not spotted, though a trail, also blazed yellow, took off to the left at about the same spot. I followed this for a while, but became concerned I was getting too far from my planned route. I also continued on the North Mountain Trail past the towers for about a mile and then turned around to tackle the descent of the pipeline. The trek down the pipeline swath is brutal, and if you have questionable knee problems, this decent will decide it for you! The blue blaze on the left is fairly easy to spot. The rock pile is not, as you are trekking through waist high brush. I had some confusion finding the Fat Mountain Trail at the end due to recent construction and/or because I was pretty tired. There is a new post that is blazed blue on three sides on the Laurel Run Connector. Take the right onto a trail that has a white blaze and a National Forest sign that says "Foot Traffic Invited". It is small and somewhat obscured, but just to the right of the trail as you turn onto it. This ends up being the Fat Mountain Trail. At this point you are only about 3/4 mile to the parking area.


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