The White Rocks hike, with the spectacular Opa Overlook, is our favorite loop hike in the
Great North Mountain area. This hike has streams, great diversity in flora,
sublime solitude. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Shenandoah
National Park from the Opa Overlook.
This area was originally settled by German's in the 1730's, with German and Scots-Irish migrants mainly moving from the Pennsylvania area. The Opa Overlook is also accessible from the Little
Mile 0.8 – In 0.25 miles cross Cove Run and continue following the
Old Mail Path as it turns uphill through short scrub and pine arriving at a wildlife clearing, and the intersection of
the orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail/FS road.
Mile 1.6 – Turn right on the orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail/FS road, pass two more wildlife clearings before the FS road ends, and the Racer Camp Hollow Trail continues into the forest. After entering the forest, the orange blazed trail will gradually descend for 0.4 miles to Racer Camp Hollow Run, and a large campsite.
Mile 2.8 – From the campsite, the trail heads up the valley crossing the run several times before arriving at a hunters campsite in 1.7 miles.
Mile 4.5 – From the hunters campsite continue 200 yards to the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail and purple blazed Little Sluice Mountain Trail. Turn left uphill on
the blue blazed trail (the immediate blazes you see are the
green deer study markings). After 1.4 miles
the trail will have crested the ridge then arrives at the white blazed White Rocks Lookout Trail on the right. There is no signage at this intersection, but has several small cairns.
Mile 5.9 – Take the white blazed trail for 0.2 miles
where you will pass a high mountain campsite on the right. Pass the campsite where shortly the trail will climb a steep rock scree. At the top of the scree stay left and continue around the knob to the Opa Lookout. Note: The white blazes on the top of the scree are faded and hard to see. Return to the blue blazed Tuscarora
Trail to continue the hike.
Mile 6.4 – Turn right on the blue blazed trail for 0.5 miles
then arrive at the intersection of the
Mail Path on the left, and the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail turns right.
Mile 6.9 – Turn left on the pink blazed trail for 1.3 miles
as it descends Little Sluice Mountain before arriving back at a clearing and
blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail you were at earlier in the hike.
One of the few hikes this time of year where did not see anyone! I was very surprised at the frequency of campsites along first-half of route. View from White Rocks is one of few where immediate valley floor has pristine forest no man-made structures (Woodstock is miles away in next valley). This is a beautiful lunch spot, bring your binoculars.
This time of year, grab a trail-side spider-stick, many "Spiny-Backed Hermit-Crab or Spiny-Backed Orb Weaver spiders (Gasteracantha Cancriformis) [I think] had stung webs across trail.
Excellent route description I would augment slightly, after "From the campsite, the trail will head up the valley crossing the run several times before reaching another campsite in 1.6 miles." add... " If you find yourself bushwacking left of the creek, cross back over to right side to find trail." Glad I had poles during my bushwacking foray.
G & A
Date of Hike: Sunday, August 02, 2015
A great hike in one of our favorite areas in GWNF. There are very conspicuous trail maps posted at many of the trail intersections, which is great for your peace of mind if you're unsure that you're on the right track or for improvising extensions to your planned circuit. We ended up by-passing the Old Mail trail on the way back and instead looped back to Wilson Cove via the Racer Camp Hollow Trail to Wilson Cove Trail (both grassy fire roads), adding about 2 miles to the original route. We got a few ticks in the tall grass on the forest road, so be sure to check yourself before you get back in the car.
The hike is relatively flat, with a few gradual climbs here and there but nothing too arduous so the miles pass fairly quickly. It was a beautiful day, not too hot for early August, but and there were a few cars on the approach road, but we only saw two hikers returning to their cars as we were setting off. Only one very small stream crossing with a wide board conveniently bridging the stream.
Only one true lookout at the end of the short white-blazed spur... but it's a doozy of a lookout! We saw several hawks soaring and swooping impressively very near where we sat.
Giving it five stars. Well-recommended!
Date of Hike: Friday, July 03, 2015
Nice secluded hike in overcast conditions- perfect for an August overnight trip. The trail is a gradual slope and easy hike, and my first trip with a 35 pound pack was not a problem. Trails were very muddy in spots, but not overall. The overlook is a must see, and worth the detour. The only people I saw were locals running hounds after bear- I never saw any bear.
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2015
I'll try not to repeat my review from just below, but I admit I must be lucky, a cool breezy day, clouds streaming across blue skies (they were moving fast!) and I did see the butterflies: fritteraries/black swallowtail(?) on the thistles again. I think my biggest point this time is that we had a front move through the previous day with torrential rains, with plenty of flooding (at least further east where I live in Howard Country MD) but the trail just wasn't that bad. Oh sure, wear your hiking boots, yes you'll cross the creek several times and the trail can be a stream bed, but most of it is over slate and rock, not mucky leaves so not impossible to get around. Another issue was finding the road out of Wardensville, it's well hidden, but just follow the signs to the "city park" it looks like a residential road but ends up being way through. I drove my sedan to the upper parking lot with no problem, but a little more scraping going back down. The road is one lane w/ no room to spare so as the article recommends perhaps park down the hill on busy days. (Albeit I meet few hikers on this trail). My other piece of advice is that as you head up Waite's creek, the trail crosses the creek from R to L then crosses back from L to R but it is hard to see the latter b/c it looks like a creek instead, the trail bears left quickly, just hard to notice at first. Anyway, have breakfast ad KA-KA-PON restaurant, country breakfast, (not real cheap though) grab some subs and water up at the KERR's and have a grate hike. I saw another bear cub driving out.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 24, 2015
We did this hike in May as an overnight. Take heed of the suggestion for parking. Our car would not have made it up the hill to the trailhead without bottoming out. Other campers drove minivans up the incline, but you could hear them scraping the entire time. The hike starts out with multiple stream crossings, some of them had a way to cross without getting your feet wet, others not so much. Be prepared to get a little muddy on the first section. Once you arrive in the meadow it was a pleasant hike up to the viewpoint. There were a couple of backpackers who set up close to the ridge, we found a small hollow and camped there for the night. The views were amazig. The route back was well marked and as long as you follow the map, it was a smooth trip back to the car, most of it being downhill. Overall, it was a great hike.