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)
My brother-in-law and I decided on this trail as a nice day hike. After a lengthy drive from Richmond, we found the loop at the beginning of the trail. It was a very foggy morning, so there was plenty of parking available. As it had rained the night before and the season being Autumn, portions of the path had slick leaves. Aside from the occasional loose wet rock on the steep ascent, the trail was very nice. The fog provided an awesomely eerie tone that felt like a scene from a scary movie. We took many pictures, but none of them portrayed the atmosphere well. The only disappointment from the hike was the fact that the vantage point was enveloped by dense fog. This hampered what we could only imagine would have been a great view. Overall, the trail was easy to navigate as there were many marked trees, especially towards the end. I would recommend the hike to others, as long as they are physically able.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 07, 2014
For a beautiful Saturday in June, I was surprised that we saw only one other group of hikers on the trail, and they were coming from Tibbets Knob. At the same time, there must have been a mob of people hiking to Big Schloss the next ridge over. The trail conditions were generally good, with some muddy spots along the FS roads and it being pretty rocky on the steep sections. If you take a copy of the directions and the map provided by this site, you shouldn't have any problems finding your way, although some of the blazes have faded quite a bit. The views at the top were O.K., not quite as good as Big Schloss because of the tree growth that blocked some of the views. The only negative thing about the hike was the ticks. I pulled over 10 of them off myself and over 30 off of my dog as we walked through some of the grassy areas. It was also a bit buggy with gnats at the start of the hike but they seemed to disappear once we left the parking area. Make sure to use plenty of insect repellent and make sure that if you bring your dog, that they have been treated for ticks and fleas. With my friend and two dogs, it took us about six hours including lunch and breaks to finish the hike. If you want a good hike that is uncrowded, this is a good choice.
Date of Hike: Friday, May 02, 2014
Really nice, fairly easy trail on a beautiful day. Saw no one except a woman on her horse till the last few miles, then a lot of people coming the other way presumably hiking in to camp for the weekend. I completed this in just under six hours, spending about an hour at the summit, wishing I were setting up camp there! The hike through the ravine is a little tough as the blazes are very faded, but it didn't take too long to find the trail again. Would love to return.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 15, 2014
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!