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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: John M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 22, 2015
Nice, pleasant hike.

The hard part is at the beginning of the trail which is really not too hard, just a steady up hill. Hiked this with my 6 year old son and while he wasn't a fan up the first part, enjoyed the view and climbing around at the top.

Also hiked to Tibbet's knob and camped there for the night.

Next time I do this it will only be to the Big Schloss to just enjoy the rocks and surroundings longer. Enjoyed exploring around Tibbets knob, but Big Schloss has more rocks. I noted several camp sights near the top and a lot of possibilities along the long flat area along the mostly flat ridge of the trail that would also afford very nice fall views for camping.

By: Jack Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 16, 2015
Great hike. Talk about turn on investment, left Washington DC on Sunday at 3:45pm, hit the trail at 6:00Pm with overnight packs, and made it to the summit by 7:30, just in time for the sunset at the knob. The view from the rock outcropping is incredible, more than a 270 degree panorama. Later that night the stars came out and the entire milky way was visibile. Camped right by the Knob and had a great sunrise to wake up to.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 15, 2015
At trailhead/parking lot, look for signs to Mill Mountain as sign for Big Schloss summit only appears at final 1/4 mile of hike. Views at the summit spectacular - exceeded my expectations. It was a hot afternoon so the hike up was sweaty.

Passed about a dozen people and half as many dogs. Trail gets very narrow and overgrown when it flattens out, so I'd recommend bug spray. Coming down very fast and easy.

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 02, 2015
This hike has always been a favorite of mine, but I hadn't hiked it much since I moved north. As usual, the views on Big Schloss are excellent. I would normally rate this 5 stars, but the condition of the trail was not good. The initial ascent (the only hard part on the hike) was made harder due to bad erosion on the trail. Alot of the trail at the top of the mountain was nearly overgrown, and much narrower than I remember. I think someone needs to give the trail some TLC. There were a lot of hikers out today, but iylt still was pretty good. Again, the views at the end are great!

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!

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