There are two options for enjoying the fantastic views and camping on Halfmoon Mountain:
Follow our directions for the two day 10.5 mile backpack or as a long day hike.
Don't have time for the standard route? Park at the Halfmoon Mountain trailhead off VA23/10 Trout Run Road 38.98936, -78.65707. This will make for a shorter 6.5 mile hike up the Halfmoon Mountain Trail to the ridge and intersection of the Halfmoon Mountain Overlook Trail, then to the overlook, and back down the same way.
Mile 0.2 - Continue along the orange Bucktail Trail as it starts to winds around the mountain and gradually ascends to a saddle with intermittent views of the ridge to the west. After the saddle descend towards the run arriving at a footbridge and intersection with the Cacpon Trail.
Mile 4.3 - Turn left uphill on the now narrower purple blazed German Wilson Trail. The trail is 1.0 miles long and becomes increasingly steeper passing through a small gorge before cresting the saddle and ending at the intersection with the white blazed Halfmoon Mountain Overlook Trail.
Mile 5.7 - From the main summit continue to the saddle campsite just beyond, then follow the faint trail another 75 yards to the less know northwesterly vista point with expansive views and large rock outcropping.
Mile 5.8 - From the second overlook pass back through the campsite in the saddle and down the white blazed trail back to the intersection with the German Wilson Trail. From the German Wilson Trail intersection it is 0.4 miles to the intersection with the yellow blazed Halfmoon Mountain Trail. 30 yards before arriving at the intersection there is a large campsite on the left.
Mile 6.2 - Turn right downhill on the yellow blazed German Wilson Trail. There is one large switchback on its descent to a large campsite and intersection with the pink blazed Bucktail Cutoff Trail. There are additional campsites just upstream, and the Halfmoon Mountain Trail veers left here crossing Halfmoon Mountain Run then following a forestry road.
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Reviews For The Halfmoon Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
My husband, dog and I did this hike as a 2-day backpack and it was a wonderful outing. We had no problems following the trail using the description provided. The climb up the German Wilson trail was a workout especially with a full pack and is very steep in the upper portion. At the junction with the overlook trail we encountered a timber rattlesnake, who luckily warned us of his presence. We enjoyed lunch at the second overlook but continued to the campsite at the junction with the Bucktail Cutoff Trail, to avoid any more close encounters. We enjoyed the variety of terrain and the beautiful mountain laurel in full bloom. Taking note of others comments, we treated out clothes/gear with permethrin and had no issues with ticks. Water was plentiful in the lower sections. We saw 3 groups of hikers, a group of equestrians and a single mountain biker on the way up the mountain but no one else until the next day. On day 2 we met a group of older folks ascending the Cutoff trail. We are in our 50's if that gives any indication. Much thanks for the terrific trail info!
Date of Hike: Monday, May 29, 2017
I did this hike with my 11 year old son exactly as it is outlined here, starting on Memorial Day. There were 3 or 4 horse trailers in the parking lot, along with 5 or 6 cars. We did this as an overnight thinking we'd see a few people Monday but have the summit to ourselves that night. As it turned out we didn't see anyone on Monday and only saw 2 other hikers on Tuesday. The trails were very wet and muddy since it had been raining so much, and we spent considerable time going around wet and muddy sections of trail. The streams were all full and crossing them wasn't difficult, but I'm sure it took more time than it normally would. The German Wilson trail is as tough as advertised--it's quite strenuous indeed--but the rest of this hike is really nice and easy. We camped at the saddle campsite, but the lower site is better. We didn't camp there because we saw 3 rattle snakes on the rocky outcropping right there behind the campsite. Two never moved and the other one decided to come closer and stretch out on the rock below us so that we could get a really close look. It was pretty cool. In fact, we saw 7 snakes total, including a large black snake near the summit. The trip back down was very easy and only took about 2 hours, maybe 2:30 total. I would have hiked over to Sugar Knob before going back down the Bucktail Cutoff trail if I had known how quick the return was. All in all a great hike, but watch your step on those rocks.
Date of Hike: Friday, February 24, 2017
Wow! We did an overnight backpack trip here, following Hiking Upward's route exactly. Didn't see anyone for two days and camped up at the top. This was the trail my wife broke her arm on in September (we had to abort then and self-rescue, driver to ER in Winchester, and thousands of dollars were spent on hospital bills). A titanium plate now holds her bones together. I mention this because our successful completion of this hike was an achievement for her in overcoming that fear and getting back out on the trail. The hike was a victory for her and for us because we didn't let the trail beat us. When failure occurs, it's important to learn from it and get back out there...And once we got past the "Bone Crushing" tree at mile 2.8 we had the rest of the trail to explore with fresh eyes and spirits. We love that this is a circuit hike with a big payoff at the top. The German-Wilson portion of this hike is intense. Very steep. We camped at the large site right below the summit. The saddle camp at the summit was open but it was just too windy for our liking. Great trip, great night. One note on the Hiking Upward directions - at mile 6.2 it says to turn at the German Wilson trail. This is actually the Halfmoon Mountain trail. Be careful down by the river area. Don't let the big tree across the trail get you. Oh, and take plenty of water to the top if you camp up there. Last chance for water is at mile 3.3. We have a full video on our trip, including showing how the accident happened. Check out our video on YouTube at our channel called Ott Mountain. We also have photos on that video of our failed attempt last year with "bone breaking" results. Thanks to Hiking Upward for the great trail data. Big help.
Date of Hike: Friday, February 10, 2017
I just did this as an overnight and it was beautiful. I camped down by halfmoon run because the wind at the summit was pretty strong. A beautiful full moon and 19 degrees made for a relaxing winter evening. I will definitely do this again in the spring.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Great hike. Just did this with a group of six. Trails are in great shape, however, markings are fading. You must pay close attention.
Plan on carrying your water during this hike. The only water was at the stream Mile 2.5. The Buckhead site has a stream but it is dry. Definitely recommend this hike to anyone looking for a great overnight trip.