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Backpack - Big Schloss & Halfmoon, VA/WV

Backpack 24 miles with 2100 feet of elevation gain along a circuit encompassing Big Schloss and Halfmoon Lookout. We'll start in West Virginia, taking the Bucktail Connector and Halfmoon trails around to the south of Halfmoon Lookout. The Tuscarora Trail will carry us east into Virginia to the Mill Mountain Trail where we'll head south to enjoy the view from Big Schloss, then camp along the Little Stony Creek Trail. The next morning, the Tuscarora trail and Halfmoon trails will take us back to a wonderful view from Halfmoon Lookout. Finally, we'll loop around to the north of Halfmoon via the German Wilson and Bucktail trails to our starting point.

Severe weather cancels.  Registration is required.  Please contact the organizer before attending this event.


Description of Halfmoon at Midatlantic Hikes

Description of Big Schloss at Midatlantic Hikes

George Washington National Forest (GWNF)



I scouted this on 23-24 May.  Some highlights … The hike is a little longer than previously advertised: 27 miles total, broken up into 15 and 12 miles on the first and second days.  On the first day, the trail itself is in good shape.  There’s a steady spring going south on the Mill Mtn trail north of Big Schloss that is a convenient resting stop and watering hole.  There are two good campsites with fire rings, plenty of space and access to nearby water in the Little Stony Creek. 

The second day starts with a huff-and-puff climb of about 1500 feet in an hour or so along good trail before returning to West Virginia along the Tuscarora Trail.  There’s a short climb and scramble leading up to Halfmoon Lookout with nice views of Long Mountain, Great North Mountain and Big Schloss.

************* After this things get a little wild.  Following a steep descent, there was a very active stream flowing in the German-Wilson trail with considerable blow-down along rocky trail.  Getting lost isn’t a concern as the trail follows the creek; but the ravine there and LNT considerations make it tough to go around and there will be some slow, careful slogging involved.  There’s perhaps 1/2 mile of this before the trail opens up again. **************

The rest of the hike along the Bucktail Trail is in good to moderate shape with some mud here-and-there along Trout Run, followed by a steady climb back to the cars around 4-6 pm.

Because we have some extra miles the first day, let’s plan on leaving from the Vienna Metro North parking lot around 7 am.  Will wait 15 minutes for stragglers, then start the caravan to the trailhead no later than 7:15.  Vienna Metro North is located off I-66 west of DC at exit 62.  After taking the exit, go north of the interstate (right, if coming from DC) and take a left at the light, left into the parking area, then left again where I’ll be waiting close to the entrance.  Look for the black Prius with the backpack on the top.   I’ll have my cell with me [masked]).  We should make it to the trail head around 9 am.

Look for one more announcement/e-mail from me Thursday or perhaps Friday, once I have a better idea what the weather is looking like, confirming that the backpack is on.

I look forward to seeing you on the trail!


A few pics to whet the appetite ....

Some Mountain Laurel strutting its stuff on the Mill Mountain Trail, north of Big Schloss

One of the views from Big Schloss

Great North Mountain and Big Schloss, seen from Halfmoon Lookout

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Fabulous locale, lovely weather with just a spattering of rain, and a great group of people! Thanks so much to Mike for leading! :-)

    June 9, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am coming from Frederick, MD, so I'll meet you at the trailhead. :-)

    June 6, 2014

  • Matt

    We all carpooling from Vienna?

    June 6, 2014

  • Matt

    Hello All. It looks like there is a chance my buddy Michael (and our planned tent) may not make the weekend due to injury. If so, any chance someone has a spare tent for me or room in theirs. I will share 50% of the load or we can work out any other arrangements. Thoughts?

    June 2, 2014

    • Matt

      That would be great Mike! How much room should I leave in my pack for it? And do you have the ground cover also?

      June 5, 2014

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