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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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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: nematode Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
So my boyfriend and I really had no idea what we were getting into it was our first time backpacking in, my first time camping not at a music festival. The hike up was difficult for two people who rarely exercise, but aren't necessarily out of shape, and carrying heavy packs. There was only one other couple on the trail, but more people than we were expecting camping in the meadows.

The views were really everything and more. We got there right at sunset and the next morning we woke up early to catch the sunrise. We got lucky because it was a full moon that weekend, and watched the sun rise as the moon set.

Definitely recommend, definitely will go back.

By: Beth M Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 11, 2016
I arrived on a Thursday around 6:15pm, there were 3-4 sites filled at the campground. Thanks to the reviews here I decided to hike up to Big Schloss and camp there. Even though I hadn't been backpacking in a while, I made it with enough time to set up my tent and watch the sun set. The first bit of the trail was difficult and I stopped quite a few times to catch my breath, but for those of you more in shape or with day packs it wouldn't be nearly as bad! I found 3? campsites on top, and picked the one on the east side closest to the bridge - wonderful view of the sunrise from there.

I encountered one group of hikers on my way up, but when I got to the top I was the only one around. It was great! Unfortunately, around 11pm I was about to fall asleep when a group of 4 college-like kids practically stumbled into my tent... turns out they were there to drink and smoke on Big Schloss until sunrise... didn't get much sleep after that because they were talking loudly and the sound carried. It sounded like the reason they picked that night was the meteor shower, so probably other weekday nights you'd have a better chance of solitude. I did see quite a few meteors as I was lying awake in the night, a good spot for stargazing even with the towns visible across the valley. Plus with their chatter I was no longer worried about bears :P Actually, the only wildlife I saw was an owl (awesome) and many assorted bugs (flies, millipedes, butterflies, some really talkative crickets outside my tent). Definitely bring bug spray, I was lax on application and came out with a lot of mosquito bites.

After sunrise and a leisurely breakfast, it was quick getting back to my car. Good thing too since it was heating up fast. I had wanted to do the Tippet's Knob hike afterwards but my shoes had fallen apart so I ended up heading home. (They were old and I should've checked them better - the trail is mostly rocky the entire way, so you do want sturdy shoes.) I'm planning to come back and do them both! This was a great "intro" backpacking trip - short but just enough challenge, well-trafficked and close to civilization but still can find solitude. Not to mention the amazing view once you get there!

By: Richard W et al. Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
We did this as a part of 2 day hike, with the first day at Strickler knob trail about 40 min drive away. We camped at Wolf Gap campgrounds overnight at late March and it was fairly cold so dress accordingly.

The first part of the trail is steep uphill that goes on for about half a mile. Then the trail rides the ridge until it reaches a sign that either lets us continue to Mill Mountain or turn right to head up Big Schloss. the Big Schloss portion that followed is rather rocky but still pretty easy as it goes all the way to the wooden manmade bridge that stretches across two large rocks. About 20 feet past the bridge there are lots of large rocks at the tip of this valley that offers wide view over the entire ridge. Big Schloss' views are on par with Old Rag's and slightly below Strickler Knob's in my opinion. But since it's so short and easy comparatively, I'd say it gives the fastest reward.

One thing my group kind of regretted not doing was camping at the top of Big Schloss instead of the Wolf Gap campgrounds. Near the wooden bridge at the summit there are at least 2-3 spots that can easily serve as great camping sites (one of them is inside a half cave, which can shelter campers from strong night winds). We say this because at a cloudless night, we saw basically the entire milky way from Wolf Gap but the views were obstructed by the trees. If we camped up at the top, the star views would have been even greater. Overall a great hike with fast returns on time and energy investment.

By: T. Heinz Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 27, 2016
Combined this with a hike up Tibbet knob. Most people were doing Big Schloss, so we did it after Tibbet. The combined total for the two trails is around 7 miles, so it's a good way to do two trails with different characteristics, and both with great views without needing to log a huge amount of miles or time. Once you get past the first 1/2 mile on this trail, which is pretty much all-up hill, the trail becomes much more moderate. This time of the year you have great views for a good chunk of the hike since a fair bit is spent walking along the ridge line and there's no foliage to block your views. Some fun rock scrambling and good views of Little Schloss and Tibbet Knob from Big Schloss.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 24, 2015
My wife and I only had a few hours to get away before a family dinner. Had hiked the Big Schloss for the first and last time one cloudy cool June day about 22 years ago. Ironically, the weather on this Christmas Eve was exactly the same as then. While not typical for December, the warm weather made for a great hike. We captured many good photos along the trail and on the rocky cliffs. The trail itself was quite technical, but not overly strenuous. Heard and saw Ravens on the way out, which was a nice find. Other than the one family camping near the entrance and the young couple we passed on the way back, we had the mountain to ourselves.

Highly recommend this hike if you're short on time and want the most bang for the effort!

    View all 91 reviews for the Big Schloss hike
Early April - Photos - Courtesy of Julie A.
Late September - Photos courtesy of Tom H.
Late Spring
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