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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)
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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.

By: Alec Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 22, 2015
So todays solitude was incredible, only seeing one other pair on this hike was pleasant. But starting roughly at 1:30, we got to the top around 2, and to the end around 2:30-45ish, not saying that it was a problem, but I guess this was just easy for me in the snow! But the views were left and right, absolutely gorgeous! Esp in the winter due to all the leaves fallen you can see a greater picture of the mountains besides you through the trees while walking towards the edge of Big Schloss. Great views, cool fox prints and it gave me cool pictures :D

By: John M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 22, 2014
Very nice hike. I hiked this early Saturday because I was going to be down in Harrisonburg anyway. Only 2 other cars in the Campground/parking lot when I got there about 9:30 - 9:45. When I returned (12:15 - 12:30), the parking lot was full, with cars (from boyscout troop?) parking on the side of the road in. The campground appeared to be about half full, which was surprising because it was in the mid 20's at night but I was thinking of camping myself, but would have got there to late to enjoy on Friday. Two permanente "out-houses" in the campground.
The hike was as many described, a steady uphill for the first part, but not too long, with the rest either flat or very gradual ups/downs. Once up on the ridge, there's a lot of nice year-round views looking east.  I hiked this one because I wanted to scout out more hikes to take my kids (6, 9 & 11) on which are not too long, with rocks and rewarding views. This is definitly a must do with my kids. To compare it to other hikes, (my kids have done), it's most similar to Annapolis Rocks. Easier than Maryland Heights, and a bit harder than Sugarloaf Mtn (Maryland). The top is a nice rocky point, but a ton to crawl around and explore. The summit is definitly somewhere to linger and soak in the views. 

By: jack Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 16, 2014
great hike with great views at the summit, today was quite cold though, very windy at the summit, crowds were not an issue today, saw only three other groups however, this hike does NOT take four hours, rather a little over a hour to get up there and a little less than a hour to get back

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