The hike along Little North Mountain loop requires you to bushwhack for about 0.3 miles and the trail is hard to spot in places. This hike should only be done by/with experienced hikers. A map, compass and GPS are highly recommended.
The first half of the hike along the un-maintained, un-blazed forestry service road and the bushwhack to meet the unofficial, un-blazed Spur Trail is the most challenging portion of the route. About halfway up the FS road the blow-downs increase substantially and the road becomes hard to follow in places. Once the FS road disappears completely you need to bushwhack to the Spur Trail where the underbrush is heavily thorned, long pants are highly recommended. The reward for this heartache? Complete solitude on the Little North Mountain ridge with vista after vista that rivals Big Schloss.
From the parking area start up the Tea Mountain Hollow dirt forestry road with Cove Run coming in on your right in 150 yards. The FS road is un-maintained and un-blazed (marked here as red) and becomes more and more obstructed by blow downs and is heavily rutted.
Continue up the FS road passing several side tracks that climb the mountain on your left. In 2.0 miles from the start of the hike the Tea Mountain Hollow FS road will end. From this spot the bushwhacking portion of the hike starts, marked here as red-dashed.
Continue up the hollow keeping Cove Run on your right, but still visible. The run will disappear under rock screes in places. If you follow the run you will find a small spring. After bushwhacking for about 0.3 miles try to locate the un-blazed Spur Trail that runs in the center of the hollow. Follow the spur trail for 0.4 miles where it intersects with the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail. If you were unable to find the Spur Trail and have remained on the left of Cove Run you will eventually run into the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail that runs along the crest of the Hollow between Tea and Little North Mountains.
Turn left on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail as it climbs Little North Mountain arriving at the ridge in 0.3 miles. For the first mile on the ridge you will have several great vista points, one with a 270° panorama and from another you can look west to White Rocks (White Rocks Hike). Follow the blue blazed trail before it drops just below the ridge on the left/west side on the mountain then ascends again before reaching a gravel road. Veer left following the blue blazed gravel road for 100 yards where it intersects VA600.
Turn left on VA600 (which you drove down earlier) for 1.0 miles and return to the parking area.
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Reviews For The Little North Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
Only had a couple hours in the afternoon to tackle the blue blazed part of this hike for about five miles, and the views were stunning. Instead of parking by the FS road mentioned here, I parked up the hill to start on the blue blazed trail, across the street from a house - the parking area is small but obvious. It is an easy hike, but there are a several patches of thorns as you step off the trail to some of the vistas, so be careful. I don't think this would be as pretty in the summer as it is now, when the leaves are down. Came across a few shotgun shells along the trail, even though there are several signs at the trailhead that CLEARLY state no hunting. Anyway, it's a good reminder this time of year to wear your safety orange while hiking anywhere around here. Would like to return to complete the entire loop.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 31, 2015
Make sure you park and hike the correct fire road, closer to the bottom of the valley. The entrance looks like a small pull off, not a true parking area. The incorrect fire road is higher in elevation and well maintained with a better parking area.
Eventually the fire road is covered by deadfalls and overgrowth. Previously cut logs and the wear in the land will show where the road continues. Eventually, the road ends and there are no markers. At this point keep walking up the valley with the run on your right. You will come to flatter, boggy land, but keep hiking to a small rise where you will hit the Tuscarora trail. If you do not give up and keep walking up the valley, you will hit the Tuscarora trail. I found this section of the hike fun. It's probably best to do it in late fall, winter, or early spring. There are lots of briars and deadfalls. I would suggest wearing long pants and giving yourself plenty of time for this portion as it will take longer than normal. The elevation gain is not a problem since it is gradual. Once on the Tuscarora trail take a left and follow to the top of the ridge line. There are great views of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountains. The first section of the ridge line has the best views.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 16, 2014
return to this one for a rematch.. our GPS has it at 8 miles in 5 hours.
The bushwhacking portion is 2 miles of climbing over deadfalls and rocks on a fire road last maintained 40 years ago distinguishable only by the occasional old cut log, and, once that disappeared, one mile through thickets of mountain laurel and boggy seeps. My legs this morning look like they were in a cat fight!
While we didn't see any bears, we found a great deal of confirmation that they do indeed 'go' in the woods! Once we stumbled on the Tuscarora Trail the hike became much easier, though even there we were wading through knee high grass much of the time as that section of trail is badly in need of maintenance. We did surprise a family of Grouse which exploded out of the underbrush.. something that has never happened to us! We were just glad they weren't momma bear and family!
For future hikers I hooked a waypoint where we came out on the trail, so when all evidence of the stream and fire road disappear, you can hook it and head there.. or do what I did and rely on dead reckoning to get there...
38 57.210' N, 78 33.817' E
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 24, 2014
First off, we started on the wrong fire road, then followed what turned out to be a hunter trail to nowhere. We decided the directions were very wrong, but then on the way back to the jeep we discovered a connecting fire road that put us on the correct old fire road next to the creek. That's where it got interesting.
Last winter had not been kind to the fire road and the blow downs made it near indistinguishable and unpassable, with only the very occasional old cut log to give a clue where the trail was. After spending three hours working our way down that trail, we did the math on the remaining daylight and decided to turn back.
That went ok until we thought that we may have missed the connector fire road that brought us here. When I went to check the GPS in the tablet, I discovered it had run out of power and my backup power supply did not work. I had to forsight to have printed out the topo map from the site, so I knew the fire road would eventually get us back to the main road, but I admit there was some, ah, anxiety, until we hit the main road.
Lesson learned: carry a backup GPS when doing this kind of hiking, and drop waypoints frequently. Always have a paper backup map, and rely on common sense. We only went about 6.5 to 7 miles, but a lot of that was climbing over huge piles of deadfalls, kinda like Old Rag with logs instead of rocks to scramble over.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Well first off, there is no Smokey the Bear sign where you park. Second, the beginning of this hike has zero blazes on the trail. You will lose the trail multiple times and kind of just walk in a direction. The creek was bone dry when we went, but it hadnt been very rainy recently. I highly recommend a GPS if you are going to do it. After you hit the Tuscarora Trail, it is pretty nice with some great views, also the trail has blazes then. It would be better after all the leaves fell in the fall. I did enjoy it though and would recommend if you really like solitude. We did not see one other hiker all day.