Halfmoon Mountain with spectacular views of Trout Run Valley, Big Schloss and Tibbet Knob as well as a great stream hike up Halfmoon Run this is another hidden gem in the Great North Mountain area. The only real challenging section is the short but steep climb up the German Wilson Trail.
Start up the orange blazed forestry service (FS) road and begin your assent up the Bucktail Trail. Shortly veer left passing the pink blazed Bucktail Connector Trail on your right which you will be returning on later.
Remain on the orange blazed Bucktail Trail for 2.4 miles passing several side FS roads (marked on the map here as gray dots) before gently descending and arriving at a foot bridge and the junction of the purple blazed Capon Furnace Trail. DO NOT cross the bridge over Halfmoon Run but stay on the orange blazed Bucktail Trail for another 1.3 miles, crossing the run five times before reaching a closed gate, clearing and the end of the Bucktail Trail.
At the gate turn right immediately passing another closed gate and heading up the pink blazed FS road. There will be a side FS trail on the left in 150 yards, pass this, and in 0.1 miles cross a small stream before the FS Road/Trail splits; bear left then immediately turn left heading uphill staying on the pink blazed German Wilson Trail as it climbs the ravine. The trail becomes very rocky, makes two quick switchbacks and becomes very steep for the remaining climb to the ridge and intersection of the white blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail.
Turn right climbing the white blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail for 0.3 miles. Just before the summit the trail splits to two vantage points. Turn right where the trail becomes very steep for 100 yards before arriving at the summit and foundation of an old lookout tower with the best view of the hike.
Return down the white blazed trail passing the pink blazed German Wilson Trail you climbed earlier and arrive at the junction of the yellow blazed Halfmoon Trail in 0.9 miles from the top.
Turn right downhill on the yellow blazed Halfmoon Trail, descending the mountain for 1.1 miles until you reach a stream crossing and the intersection of the pink blazed Bucktail Connector Trail.
DO NOT cross the stream but turn right on the pink blazed Bucktail Connector Trail for 2.5 miles where the pink blazed trail ends at the orange blazed FS road you ascended at the beginning of the hike.
Turn left downhill on the orange blazed FS road and shortly arrive back at the parking area.
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Reviews For The Halfmoon Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
We couldn't have picked a better weather day! From Trout Run Road, be sure to turn left onto the Bucktail Trail Loop (big sign!!) in order to get to the proper starting point. The stream crossings were full and winds had blown a lot of leaf litter back onto the trail which made the ravine section a little tricky (slippery feet and blind footings). Clear skies made for a beautiful view at the overlook and there was nice wind cover by the trees/rocks for a sheltered lunch spot. We didn't see anyone on the orange/pink sections of the trail, but we met up with 5 backpackers at the Halfmoon Mountain Overlook. This is definitely a moderate hike and is do-able for those beginners with average+ fitness abilities although it might be slow-going. We completed the hike in about 6.5 hours with 4 dogs, a few beginners and a 40ish minute lunch break at the overlook. Pink blazes are VERY worn/faded and the ravine section had some of them painted on the rocks rather than the trees. Not a five in my book due to all the FS road walking (about 3.5mi total)...but the ravine section, water crossings, and descent were really nice. When the leaves are on the trees, it will make for a very shady hike. Thanks HU for your hard work in mapping the trails and taking time to make our hiking experiences easier to plan out!!
Date of Hike: Sunday, February 23, 2014
great hike with some residual snow on the ground on the north facing slopes that made for a slightly slippery ascent.
overall, though, great views, and we really enjoyed the varied terrain!
ps- found a pedometer on the trail. if it's yours, contact me and i'll get it back to you!
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 22, 2013
This is a great hike! Very peaceful, I only saw two groups of people during my whole 5 hour adventure on the trail, one at the top lookout and one about two miles from the end. There was no one on the steep rock scrable through the ravine on the way up. It's a bit hard to find the trail on the ravine section just keep moving up the rocks and keep a keen eye out for the pinkish blazes. After the very rainy summer we have been having the trail was very wet and muddy in a lot of areas. I would strongly reccommend having waterproofed boots with all the stream crossings and wet spots on the trail. My dogs absolutely loved frolicking in the streams and it was a bonus not to have to carry water for them as plenty was available throughout the hike. If you like your solitude and lots of streams this is a fantastic hike to choose!
Date of Hike: Saturday, February 09, 2013
Hiking to Halfmoon Lookout has now become one of my favorite hikes in the area, I have now done it about four times. But what I do is park at a different trailhead, about 2 miles further up on Trout Run. I then hike to Halfmoon and back, without doing a loop. Had a great day on the 9th, weather was beautiful. Trail looks better, it seems the PATC has been out, and they reprinted the blazes, too. Thanks!
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 24, 2012
A great hike, especially if you like to be the only one on the trail - we saw only two other people the entire day. The view from the top is also spectacular. This is a good hike for people who have some hiking experience, but are trying to work their way up to some of the more challenging hikes in the Shenandoah region - it has some nice strolling bits and some steep scrambling bits to practice on.
Two warnings: First, the trails are blazed with orange, yellow, pink, and white, all of which tend to start looking like the same color after a season of rain (especially the orange and yellow). We mistook the pale pink for a faded orange and ended up doing the hike backwards, which wasn't a disaster, but did leave us confused. Some fresh blazes, maybe in more distinct colors, would be helpful. In the meantime, just keep a careful eye out and make sure you're on the right trail.
Second, this hike was *full* of ticks. Definitely wear protective clothing and repellent, because you won't be able to avoid them.