Located in Shenandoah National Park
This challenging hike climbs Furnace Mountain to reveal expansive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive from the rocky summit and overlook. The summit’s other-worldly rock formations are perfect for scrambling. The summit also provides a nice spot for a rest and refreshment before descending back down the mountain to Madison Run.
Trail Activities: Hiking and Trail Running
Time required: 2-3 hours
Challenge level: Moderate – Challenging
Distance: 2.8 miles
Elevation change: 892 ft.
Terrain: Well-maintained dirt footpath with some rocky sections, steady up and down hill
Preferred direction: n/a (out and back hike)
Practical Planning Information
Services along trail: None
Food and water: Stream at beginning/end of hike, be sure to filter/purify.
Mobile phone service: limited service throughout hike
Directions & Parking
Google: Madison Run Road Trailhead
Driving time: 30 minutes southeast of Harrisonburg, 24 minutes south of Elkton
Signs and marking: light blue paint blazes on trees
Parking: Plentiful roadside parking is available at the end of Browns Gap Road just before Madison Run Fire Road. The fire road is gated. The trail is within the National Park boundaries, but there is no formal park entrance station for fee collection at the trailhead. Be prepared with a Shenandoah National Park pass.
Navigating the Trail
Park along Browns Gap Road and walk through the gate at Madison Run Fire Road. In 0.25 miles, turn right at the cement marker onto the Furnace Mountain Trail. The trail is marked with light blue paint blazes. Cross over Madison Run creek on stepping stones. Be aware that the stepping stones may be under water if the water is high. Then, follow the trail as it turns right along the creek and ascends the hillside. As you ascend, the vegetation will become more scrubby and shorter as views of the Shenandoah Valley open up behind you. The trail will pass through a talus slope over a field of boulders. At 1.7 miles, you will come to a marker for the Furnace Mountain summit to the left. A 0.5 mile trail will lead you to the summit. After enjoying the views from the summit, descend along the same trail back to the parking area. For a longer loop of 12 miles, return to the marker for Furnace Mountain and ascend up the mountain towards Blackrock Mountain. Then, descend back to the parking area.
Mount Vernon Furnace
Furnace Mountain is named for the Mount Vernon Furnace, which was constructed at the base of the mountain in 1830 for smelting iron ore. It was destroyed during the Civil War. It was later rebuilt and used briefly as iron production shifted to other areas. Madison Run is named for John Madison, first clerk of court of Augusta County, and uncle of famous Founding Father and fourth President of the United States, James Madison.