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Big Schloss - Columbia Furnace, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
4.1 mls NA
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,035 ft
George Washington National Forest
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Wolf Gap Recreation Area and parking area
The Mill mountain trail starts near campsite #9. 38.92404, -78.68949

Big Schloss is another treasure in the George Washington National Forest. Relatively easy at only 4.4 miles and 1,000 vertical feet, it's the sister hike to Tibbet Knob which heads to the south from the same parking location. Tibbet Knob has two short rock scrabbles, but a 10th of the hikers, and just as good views.

Big Schloss peak, named by German immigrants provides a wonderful view of the surrounding valleys. Make sure to bring a packed lunch because you will want to linger at the Big Schloss rock outcropping and soak in the view.

If you want to make a weekend out of it, the Wolf Gap recreation area has 9 well maintained campsites with bathroom facilities. If you have some extra hiking time consider hiking the Tibbet Knob route as well. The views are every bit as good.

Mile 0.0 - Leave the Wolf Gap Campground (near campsite #9) and start up the orange blazed Mill Mountain Trail to begin the steepest portion of the hike. The first mile has several switch backs before arriving at the ridge line of Mill Mountain.

Once getting to the ridge line, turn left and continue following the now narrower trail as it follows the ridge before arriving at the junction of the Big Schloss Trail in 1.9 miles.

Turn right onto the white blazed Big Schloss Trail for another 0.3 miles before crossing a wooden bridge that will take you to the overlook just 50 yards further along. Enjoy the view it's one of the best! To return, just retrace your route back to the Wolf gap Campground.
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Hiker Reviews For The Big Schloss Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Big Schloss hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 19, 2015
I've been wanting to hike Big Schloss for a while now and finally made it out. Started the hike at approximately 10:20am and finished at approximately 2pm. The hike out is essentially the most difficult part, with the first mile being a relatively difficult assent. Once you reach the ridge line it is easy going until you reach the branch off for the trail up to the look out.

Only saw four people on the hike out, but passed several groups on the way down. Definitely worth getting out here early if you want to have some time at the look out in peace. I would agree with all the ratings for this hike. There were many campsites scattered all along the trail and even two nice ones up at the look out.

I will say that the ridge line area and farther down the mill mountain trail past the branch off for the look out, the trial is a little overgrown. Pants and bug spray would probably be recommended, although I wore shorts with bug spray and found no ticks afterwards.

I'd definitely recommend this hike and would be great as an overnight trip!

By: John J Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 19, 2015
Camped in site #9 of Wolf Gap so I literally just had to walk out of my tent and begin the hike.  I left at 7am and without making any effort to go fast the round trip, with about 30 minutes at Big Schloss, took me 3 hours.  Solitude was not an issue as I saw only one other person on the trail.  That may have been partially attributable to how early I went.  It's a beautiful hike and, even on a slightly overcast and rainy day, the views from Big Schloss were stunning. In some stretches, there was quite a bit of poison ivy growing along the sides of the tail.  Once you finish the initial climb, it really is just a nice walk in the woods although there is a stretch right after the initial climb where there are not many blazes.  But, the trail is so obvious and without any thing that looks like a spur that it's not a big deal.  The rainy did make the descent near the end of the trail a little bit trickier as the rocks were slick.  On the plus side, it meant there was a nice breeze to keep me cool.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 09, 2015
Another training hike for the Wandering Fools this weekend. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and planned to do both of the hikes available from this parking lot. We started on the trail to Big Schloss around 11:30 am. The trail's most difficult part occurs in the first 3/4 of a mile with a moderate and challenging ascent to the ridge. Once you get to the top, you are immediately awarded with a beautiful view of the valley from a rock outcrop. You will continue to see this view off and on as you hike along the ridge on the way to Big Schloss. We enjoyed this part of our hike very much. The terrain was relatively flat and the scenery was gorgeous. About 2 miles into the hike, you will reach the intersection of  turn off point to Big Schloss. The next 1/4 of a mile is uphill but not too bad considering what you get to see when you reach the top. The views from Big Schloss were incredible. It was a clear and sunny day so we could see for miles and miles. We were surprised at how many people were at the overlook since we saw very few people on our hike up. It was definitely crowded but we were still able to secure our only little spot and enjoy a quick bite to eat before heading back to the parking lot.

There are several great campsites located by Big Schloss. We considered turning this into a quick backpacking trip before realizing that the campsites appear to attract a young crowd of people who enjoy hanging out and playing music. It looks like it could get quite crowded on a Saturday night but watching sunrise/sunset from the top of Big Schloss is definitely getting added to the "must do" list.

We made it back down to the car pretty quickly and took a 20 minute rest before heading over to begin the hike to Tibbet Knob. PS - if you decide to do both in one day, bring lots of water and prepare for a workou! Tibbet Knob may be short but it is steep!

By: Court S. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 12, 2015
This was an unexpected gem that I found just meandering through the GW Natl Forest. After a very steep ascent, the hike levels out on the ridge line and just takes your breath away. The overlook at the end of the point was fantastic. Definitely save your lunch for the end and plan to spend some time absorbing the near panoramic view from on top of the rocks. I would rate the difficulty as a 3, rather than 2. The ascent at the trailhead was quite rocky with loose dirty and gravel. Even in my trainers, I slipped several times. Will return when the trees get a bit more green on them.

By: Jennifer C. Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Well, the solitude factor did not apply today, we didn't see anyone else the entire hike. The temperature stayed below freezing, but we layered well, so it was not a problem. The snow was deep, any where between an inch to two feet. I did where waterproof boots and storm socks, so this was not such a problem either. It took us approximately an hour and 20 minutes to get from the camp ground to the Big Schloss lookout point, and about 45 minutes to get back to the parking lot. This trail was very steep for the first mile, and at other points through out. I'm not sure if this hike would have been as hard with out the snow, or if the steepness really is that tiring the rest of the year. There are also really no places to step off the trail and take a breather for the first mile, just straight up. The view at the top is spectacular, and my hiking partner agreed the hike was worth the view, and the bridge at the top.

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Early April - Photos - Courtesy of Julie A.
Late September - Photos courtesy of Tom H.
Late Spring
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