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Turk Mountain - SNP, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
10.4 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,390 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Park at the Jarman Gap parking area. 38.09770, -78.78101

Turk Mountain is a tough hike with about 2400’ of elevation gain, bring plenty of water, especially if hiked in the summer. We hiked it a few days before Christmas and it was quite cold. It's hard to rate the solitude as the temperature was so cold all normal people were at home and not out hiking. The best views are at the top of Turk Mountain, so make sure you do the out /back Blue-blazed Turk Mountain trail.

All of the trails for this hike are well maintained. Hiking poles would be advisable for the multiple stream crossings, althought the level will be significantly less in the summer.  This hike is the last circuit hike in the southern section of the Shenandoah National Park.

We parked at the Jarman Gap parking area, near MP97. There are two yellow gated barriers, the trail starts on the barrier nearest Skyline Drive and goes downhill. Continue past the barrier hiking on the yellow blazed Moormans River Fire Road. In about 0.2 miles you will come to an intersection of the A.T., continue past this intersection, crossing Moormans River multiple times prior to reaching the intersection of the Turk Branch Trail in 2.0 miles. You will cross the river and immediately take a left after the SNP Stone Marker heading up the yellow blazed Turk Branch trail. Note: The Moormans River Fire Road continues straight at this intersection following the Moormans River, make sure you turn left onto the Turk Branch Trail.

Continue on the Turk Branch Trail, crossing Turk Branch a couple of times, with multiple switchbacks prior to reaching the Turk Gap parking area. This part of the hike is about 2.6 miles long and gains roughly 1200’ feet in elevation. One of the crossings had a nice small waterfall with a few others visible upstream.

From the Turk Gap parking area, cross Skyline Drive and head to the Stone marker, bearing left onto white blazed AT going South. DO NOT TAKE the yellow blazed continuation of the Turk Gap Trail. Stay on the AT South for 0.3 miles until you reach the intersection of the blue blazed Turk Mountain Trail, take a right. This is an out and back adding 2.0 miles to the hike, but you will see the best views of the day and have a great place to eat lunch. Be sure when you are at the top of Turk Mountain to continue along the rocks past the Stone marker, so that you can also see some great views of the Shenandoah Valley. Retrace your steps to the AT intersection.

Take a right at the AT intersection heading south for about 1.4 miles before crossing Skyline Drive. To the right is the Sawmill Run Overlook which if you have time, has some great views. Once across Skyline Drive there are some good up and downs on this part of the AT but not too bad. Continue on the AT for 1.7 miles reaching the Moormans River Fire Road intersection. Take a right and reach the Jarman Gap Parking area in 0.2 miles to complete the hike.

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Hiker Reviews For The Turk Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 11, 2015
To really appreciate this hike, I recommend doing the full circuit including the summit. Given there were several days of rain prior to our hike day, the streams and Moormans river were beautifully full and spring was blooming all around us. We set out from Jarman Gap parking lot at 10:30am, hit the summit of Turk Mountain at 1:30, where we ate our lunch in solitude, and then back the AT to Jarman Gap parking lot, ending the hike around 4:15pm! This was our longest hike to date and we found it to be just the right amount of challenge. We encountered an adolescent black bear, spotted in the woods during a water break while we were on the Turk branch trail. Also, spotted what we think was a coyote! Overall, the stream crossings, solitude, and views on this beautiful spring day put this hike in our top favorite hikes to date!

By: Long Beard Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 01, 2015
My wife and I did not have time to do the full circuit hike so we chose to do a summit hike from the parking area. This was a great hike and would definitely recommend it. The views are great and the Boulder field down from the rocks at the summit are amazing. I hope to complete the whole hike in the future , but if you are looking for a short summit hike do not overlook this one.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 01, 2014

This hike had enough variety to keep it interesting, and since the leaves are off the trees there are some impressive views of some of the neighboring mountains that can be glimpsed from the Turk Branch trail. Several portions of the trail were snow covered and the downhill portion on the way to Turk Mountain was so slick that I opted to trudge through the snow (about shin deep) next to the trail. The view from Turk Mountain was great...better than I remembered and on this day the fire over in Riprap Hollow was visible. There were a lot of people on the trail from the Turk Mountain parking area to the summit, but other than that I saw one runner and one fellow hiker all day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Hiked this starting at Sugar Hollow outside the Shenandoah (see Moorman's River hike to the north), proceeded up the South Moorman's Road (fire road) past Blue Hole to the park boundary and then right onto the yellow-blaze Turk Branch Trail in this hike. It's 1.8 miles from the upper Sugar Hollow parking lot to the yellow trail, making this a more interesting way to do ~11.5 mile out-and-back of Turk Mountain for those living in Charlottesville (plus you can dive into Blue Hole to cool off on your return hike). You could also add the southbound AT part to a loop from Sugar Hollow, bringing the total up to ~14 miles. The yellow Turk Branch trail trail makes a major elevation gain, but except for the last mile up Turk Mtn, the grade is very reasonable and there are no true switchbacks. Views from the top are awesome - make sure you keep following the trail along the rocks to the west side, well past the stone marker.

By: Heather Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 15, 2013
I would give this hike 3 and 1/2 stars if that was an option. We started around 9:30 am and took our time on this hike, so it took us around 6 hours with a lunch break. The trails are clearly blazed, and the instructions are very easy to follow. The streams and rivers on the first part of the hike were very low and we had no problem crossing them. We heard lots of wildlife but didn't really see anything beyond birds, squirrels and a few reptiles, no snakes and no bears. We saw three other couples on the fire road, and a handful of people on top of Turk mountain but overall it was very peaceful. I don't think this is a four star hike because the summit trail and AT portions of the hike were just not that scenic, and at times the brush was so thick we couldn't see into the woods around us. If you like to hike in winter, this hike would have much more interesting views when the tree cover is not so dense. The summit of Turk mountain was lovely, and if you don't want to hike as long of a distance, I would recommend hiking just the summit trail. If you do this loop, you must make time to do the summit trail, it was the best view all day. Happy trails!

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Late December
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