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Little Schloss - Columbia Furnace, Virginia

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Little Schloss  -  May 2015video embed code by v3.1

Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.0 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,110 ft
13.2 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
7.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,220 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Park on FDR92 across from the trailhead. 38.90833, -78.64085

Little Schloss is just one of the many beautiful circuit hikes in the Great North Mountain area. Only 1.7 miles east of the more popular Big Schloss, the Little Schloss overlook is nearly all but forgotten. The panoramic vista from Little Schloss is spectacular, however the rock scramble to to the summit does require some skill. But this hike isn't just about the summit, 0.3 past the overlook there are several beautiful vistas on the trail, as well as a clearing with mature spruce. Little Stoney Creek is also a favorite with backpackers, and has many camping sites along its banks.

  • Mile 0.0 - From the parking area cross FDR92 and start up the purple blazed Little Sluice Mountain Trail. The trail will increase in steepness, then in 1.0 miles turn down its eastern side before heading steeply back towards the ridge. At this point, there are also several good views of Stultz Gap to the southeast. The trail will make switchbacks near the ridgeline and become increasingly steeper.
  • Mile 1.8 - After the last switchback the trail will split. Stay left to go to the overlook. The 70ft rock scramble to the Little Schloss overlook is a very steep, so if you decide to tackle the climb use caution as some of the rocks are loose.
  • Mile 1.9 - From the Little Schloss overlook Big Schloss is visible to the west, as well as the the ridge of Little Sluice Mountain to the north, and Woodstock to the east. Return back to the trail split from the overlook and head north on the purple blazed Little Sluice Mountain Trail passing several vistas. 0.3 miles along the ridge the trail will pass the first good campsite.
  • Mile 2.5 - Enter a high mountain meadow with a campsite and stand of mature spruce. On the east side of the clearing in the woodline is camping area with one of the largest backcountry fire rings we've seen.

    If you are doing the shorter out/back hike this is the turn around point.

    To continue on the 13.2 mile loop hike, the purple blazed Little Sluice Trail follows a wider seasonal forestry road (FR), then gradually descends before reaching the intersection of the orange blazed Bread Trail/FR in another 0.9 miles.

  • Mile 3.4 - Stay left along the purple blazed trail/FR for 2.5 miles, where the purple blazed trail ends at the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail, and orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail that continues straight.
  • Mile 5.9 - Turn left uphill on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail as it passes over Sugar Knob, then descends and arrives at the intersection of the yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail in another 1.0 mile.
  • Mile 6.9 - Turn left down the yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail, and in 100 yards pass the PATC Sugar Knob Cabin, then 70 yards further down the trail is a seasonal spring. The yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail will continue down the valley for 2.5 miles before reaching the next campsite along the banks of the creek. Pass several more campsites in the remaining 1.3 miles to FDR92, and the Little Stoney Creek parking area.
  • Mile 10.7 - Turn left and walk the remaining 2.5 miles along FDR92 back to the Little Sluice Trail parking area.
  • Mile 13.2 - Arrive back at the parking area on FDR92
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Hiker Reviews For The Little Schloss Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 04, 2017
I did the short version of this as a day hike, but instead of doubling back I decided to take Bread Road Trail (orange blazes) downhill and then follow Johnstown Rd back out to my car. Johnstown was closed maybe half a mile before the intersection, so I had to park there instead of FS 92. I do not recommend my loop version though, unless you enjoy trudging along a forest road for the last two hours of your hike.. lesson learned! I still gave this five stars because when I was following directions it was great :) The forecast was 40 degrees and sunny, and I'm very glad I wore layers + windbreaker. On the uphills when it was calm and the sun was beaming down I got toasty, but up by Little Schloss it was very windy and cold, still some snow on ground. The view was awesome!! So cool to be able to pick out Big Schloss and Little North Mountain. The rock scramble wasn't that hard, just take your time with your footing. Also glad I wore hiking boots as the trail is very rocky. Loved the meadow campsite with spruce, a nice place to eat lunch. I only ran into four people all afternoon: two guys with a dog who thought they were going to Big Schloss, and a couple up on top of the ridge. Already planning to go back and do an overnight version!

By: Cole Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 18, 2017
My friends and I (a group of three) along with our intrepid dog decided to tackle Little Schloss during what we anticipated would be the best February weather we'd ever seen. Traveling from Maryland, we did the hike as a one night backpack forecast called for temperatures in the high 60s with partial cloud cover day 1, a possible passing shower overnight, sunshine and warm temps for day 2.

We did this hike as directed (counterclockwise).

The access gate along Johnstown Road was closed and there were three vehicles parked at the small pull-off right before the gate. Other vehicles can park along the opposite side of Johnstown road without much problem -so don't be discouraged if you see a small handful of cars at the gate. From the gate it's a 1.6 mile hike to the trail head -take your first left onto FDR 92. The purple trail blaze is visible on your right, across from a small grassy area (the parking "area" in the directions -which, as previously noted, is little more than a camp site sized grassy area).

Follow the purple blazes (you will make short descents while traversing the side of Little Schloss -don't be fooled, you haven't missed the rock scramble to the summit). Eventually you will come to the last switchback and the left leads to the scramble and the trail continues to the right. You may be confused as to whether this is actually the "left to the summit" -as my group was. You can quickly confirm this by continuing on the trail and eventually finding yourself near the false summit -realizing you missed the rock scramble, and arguing amongst yourselves whether to double back or not. We were hiking in February without any brush or tree cover -and we still had difficulty finding the best route to the scramble due to several other rough bushwack trails toward the rocks (until we passed it entirely).

It didn't matter. The views, both while doing the push up Little Schloss and while on the ridge of Little Sluice Mountain trail were awesome. In the late spring, summer and early fall, many of these views would not exist. The brush and tree cover along this route would easily render most of the views nonexistent during warmer months.

Something no reviewer has mentioned as of yet is that the the "uphill turn" on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail which passes over Sugar Knob is arduous. After the elongated ascent to Little Schloss this felt like a rather unexpected challenge. Additionally, the yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail required good footwork over very rocky downhill terrain. Our party was tiring after a long drive, a longer than expected hike, a second unknown uphill segment -and we didn't really anticipate these rock skips along what was essentially a goat trail. Very fun for sure, but also not where you want to find yourself loosing energy, concentration and daylight.

We pushed it the first day and made it to a camp along Stoney Creek thus covering 11-12 miles. This was not an easy or pain-free trek. However, we were rewarded with a truly stunning camp. Beautifully secluded despite being close to the trail, the camp sites along the second half of this hike are, without a doubt, wonderful.

Interestingly enough, we found plenty of water all along this trial. Long before the first noted spring, we found two additional natural springs putting flowing water into the divots of Little Sluice Mountain Trail. We must have skipped over two water overflows along Tuscarora Trail, and an additional five small water runs/springs along Stoney Creek Trail before reaching the campsites near the actual stream.

The fire access road to finish this hike is easy. For us, it was very enjoyable. This was entirely due to the fact that there was no tree cover at this time of year. There were several picturesque spots even along this road.

My evaluation of the hike overall:

Difficulty: 4 -The difficulty of this hike is a four under the circumstances in which we found ourselves. Namely, an additional 1.6 mile hike-in to the trail head, the carrying of 30+ pound packs and having done this trail counterclockwise as the directions indicate. If you do this as a day hike with a light pack, don't have to park 1.6 miles out, and/or are in exceptional shape (we're not newbs/kooks by any stretch of the imagination) perhaps the difficulty may vary.

Streams: 3 -At least. We found lots of good water sources throughout, although I imagine some of these sources, if not most, are dry for considerable periods as noted by others.

Views: 4-5 -We had many great views that have hardly been noted by others. Go during winter. Even walking along FDR92 back to the parking area is enjoyable when you can see the surrounding mountains.

Solitude: 4 -The weather this February weekend was spectacular, we would have been disappointed in humanity (but somewhat stoked) if we hadn't seen others along this beautiful trail. That being said, we ran into a couple out-and-back hikers at Little Schloss. We passed a couple at the Sugar Knob Cabin (an absolutely amazing spot by the way), a group of four mountain bikers, a couple day-hiking along Stony Creek and a group occupying one of the campsites along Stoney Creek Trail. We were alone and unaware of any other persons for 85% of this hike or more.

Camping: 5 -It's just that good. There are several campsites along the ridge area of The Little Sluice Mountain Trail (purple blazes) that are great. You can camp among the impressive spruce tree stand or get closer to the ridge. And the spots get better from there. Our chosen spot along Stoney Creek was, well, basically perfect.

IN SUM: I strongly suggest doing this as an overnight backpack in the winter and in the way the directions suggest. It would be difficult to enjoy this trail as a one day route in my opinion. Perhaps it's as easy as others suggest when you're not carrying weight, or when you're doing it backwards. For us, it was challenging and quite rewarding.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 14, 2017
This is a pretty good hike. Went out with a 40 lb pack for training purposes. The initial climb is quite challenging. Too foggy and icy to do the top scramble, so we kept going on. Did 10 miles the first day and set up camp next to the creek which was a FANTASTIC camping spot. A little too much fire road, but I usually don't mind that in the mornings for an easy out to the car. Did the last 3.5 ish miles in the morning. Overall, fairly good hike.

By: Alex P Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2016
My wife and I did this hike last weekend over two days. It was great! Relaxed, nice views, good trail conditions, nice camping options, and adequate water. It was a super windy weekend, clear and chilly overnight (41 degrees), but there were a good amount of people on the trail since it was sunny during the day. We dropped our packs at the Little Sluice Mtn parking lot, then drove up and parked at the bottom of Little Stoney Creek Trail, hiked back down the road, then up to the spruce meadow past Little Schloss to set up camp (counterclockwise). There were two other groups camping there for the night. The huge fire ring there is part of a deer camp. Some guys were there with their pickup splitting and stacking wood in preparation for rifle season, which is coming up in a couple two three weeks. The remaining eight miles on Sunday were a nice walk through the woods, with the sun lighting up the fall leaves. If you do this counterclockwise and stay up on the ridge make sure you bring enough water. We didn't see any until a trickle was coming out of a small pipe to the right of the trail somewhere about mile 4.5-5. Then a few hundred meters before you turn on to the blue trail there is a more substantial creek with a nice, clear flow. We started with 4 liters each and were fine. Overall a great overnight, nice people on the trail. For a two-day hike I'd give it a three for difficulty, and I'm not in great shape!

By: Gus W. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 25, 2016
After having day hiked this trail counter-clockwise in the Spring, our crew made a two-day backpacking trip this weekend going clockwise starting at the Little Stoney Creek parking lot. The weather this weekend was perfect for late June with temps around 80 with low humidity. Was surprised at how few hikers we encountered, maybe 12 over the entire circuit. Trail was in great shape up to our campsite on Little Sluice Trail at the intersection with Bread Trail fire road. That is a large site which accommodated our four tents easily with room for at least that many more. There are at least three fire rings. The spring on Little Sluice trail (about a mile before our site) was going strong.

We continued towards Little Schloss on the second day, but had a more difficult time. From the fireroad up through the meadow to Little Schloss, the trail is currently overgrown with tall grass and thorns. The view from Little Schloss was awesome. Once the Little Sluice trail descended under tall tree cover, the going became easy again. Little Sluice Trail could use a touch up on the purple blazes, many are fading fast. Also, we would have never found the side trail up to Little Schloss if we hadn't been there before the weeds started growing. Looks like a good place for a sign.

We were surprised at the lack of wildlife on this trip. An orange salamander, a chipmunk, and a whippoorwill that started signing loudly at 5am were all that we encountered.

Giving it 3 stars, would have gone 4 if it weren't for the overgrown section.

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