Fridley Gap Loop || GWNF

If you are looking to get a day hike in that has about every gem packed in a 6.2-mile loop, then Fridley Gap Loop located in the George Washington National Forest just might be your answer.

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
The rock at Grubbs Overlook was a great place to take a photo with the American Flag. Photo courtesy of Richard.
Just northeast of Harrisonburg Virginia located in the George Washington National Forest. Fridley Gap Loop is a 6.2-mile circuit hike that provides beautiful mountain streams, a swimming hole, prehistoric fossils, rugged trails, and backcountry campsites.

A large parking lot is located at the end of Airey Lane. Be mindful to not block the access to private property which is on the east side of the parking lot. Just a few feet outside of the parking lot you will see the trailhead sign

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
Signage in the National Forest can be a little worst for wear or lacking altogether.

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
The first half-mile of the trail follows the stream bed.
In my experience, the George Washington National Forest is a little more austere and rugged than the popular hikes of Shenandoah National Park. This is a great hike to get away from the crowds that occupy the national park. Plan for this hike to take you and your group about 4.5 hours to complete.

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
I know Leave No Trace rules state don't stack rocks but this is a little over the top!

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
The swimming hole with tabletop falls. The mountain water is still freezing in late June.

There are campsites just upstream from the swimming hole at the intersection with Fridley Gap Trail and Massanutten South Trail. Continue right at this intersection, and cross the run, and begin your ascent up Massanutten South Trail.
Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
The view from Grubb's Overlook.

We could have not asked for a clearer view from the top of Grubbs Overlook. Looking westward into the Harrisonburg Valley. 


While there are numerous maps online that I could have used on this day hike. I made a georeferenced  PDF map using Caltopo. I then used the Avenza Map app to track our route and keep up where we're at on the trail. Currently, I am using the free recreational use app and I really like how this app works.

Screenshot of  our route on a georeferenced PDF map made by using Caltopo viewed in the Avenza Maps app

On Third Mountain, looking back at Fourth Mountain, which we climbed to reach the rocks at Grubbs Overlook. This section of the Massanutten South Trail follows a small double-track trail that is full of wildflowers this time of year. I also found some blackberry bushes along the trail.

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest


Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest
Beautiful wildflowers line a section of the Massanutten South Trail. 

 Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest

On our last leg of the hike, we had to climb back over Third Mountain and was greeted with a rugged descent. We did take a short photo op to catch a view back into the valley.

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest

While I am not a Paleontologist, I think we found some worm track fossils on a rock near the pool on our way back to the trailhead.

Fridley Gap Loop George Washington National Forest 

This was a fantastic day hike enjoyed by all in our group. It would also be a great overnight backpacking trip. Remember to always carry the 10 essentials no matter how long you will be on the trail. 

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