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)
SIGHTS: The hike was lovely, and very relaxing. The halfmoon overlook was very nice and we got a very good view since most of the foliage was down. DIFFICULTIY: This was a fairly easy and relaxing hike myself and my boyfriend did it as a overnight trip. We hiked it in reverse order and I would definitely recommend to do it that way. In reverse you go on Bucktail (pink) and do a lot of uphill then get to the halfmoon lookout trail. The rest of the way on Bucktail (orange) is downhill and but not super steep this way you get the easy hike the next day. There are some rocky patches on Bucktail orange but nothing too difficult should be fine for older folk or even very young children. Do not recommend going after a excessive rain, the Bucktail orange trail follows a stream and the stream was overflowing in some areas. The trail was completely underwater for approximately 100 feet or so. It is not a big deal if you don't mind getting wet but it can get slippery. CAMPING: There are several camp areas on the half moon trail. We camped up on the halfmoon lookout itself and that was very very nice. Note that if you do this during the winter it is VERY windy up there it was 30F overnight when we camped but with wind chill it sure felt colder. Wildlife: We did not encounter any large mammals on our hike. But we did get to see some birds and other small critters. SOLITUDE: We saw one group of hikers when we were setting camp they appeared to be day-hikers. On our last mile before getting to the car on the following day we saw a couple backpacking in. This seems like a fairly quiet hiking area. WILDLIFE: We saw a few human tracks but did not encounter as many people as we expected likely this place gets some local day-hikers regularly. SUMMARY: Recommended hike of anyone who wants an easy relaxing walk in the forest. Specially good for beginners, older folk, or people with children
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 16, 2017
Did this as an overnight with my brother. Easy to find, great and plentiful parking. We did the route counter clockwise, primarily due to fears that there would be no camping sites closer to the parking at the end of the route if we did this the normal way. Our fears were justified as there was zero camping availability until the yellow and pink trail intersection. The summit was incredible, great views all around and not a horribly hard climb the way we went (we had 40 lb packs so it was a bit difficult). Water is also a concern on that end of the hike. The other side by the bridge has plenty of water and camping. We only saw one person all day, a bear hunter waiting at a crossing fire road for his dogs to come back. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and cold. It got down to 23 degrees when the sun set. The trail is very smooth, only one rocky section on the German Wilson trail. Also my GPS topped it out at 11.15, I think this is a little over 10.6. Would definitely do it again, one of the better 10+ mile circuits in the GW in my opinion.
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 02, 2017
Sounds of Nature/Pink Trails/Gun Shots. Worth the 1hr and 40mins drive.
I said "Directions to Bucktail parking West Virginia" and it worked perfectly. Parking is marked by a brown “Bucktail Trail” sign off Trout Run rd. The parking is good/no fee. Parking is off to the side of a gravel loop road that can hold about 30 cars. The first part of hike was total silence with just bird and squirrel sounds. I hiked the forestry road to the pink trail which goes up a gorge and crosses over some streams. I was able to cross on rocks without getting my feet wet. The pink trail then gets steep near the overlook. You’ll feel the burn but nothing that requires the use of hands. The overlook view is spectacular and includes Big Schloss. In fact you can follow the orange trail by the overlook a couple of miles to Big Schloss. There are many hiking trails connected up in that area (take a picture of trail map at the trailhead.) Also plenty of camp sites with water/streams. As I followed the pink trail back to the parking lot I heard LOUD black powder gun shots near the trail. I switched over to my fluorescent yellow shirt to be safe. I think the shots were from a small house\cabin in the woods. To be safe I increased my speed and made lots of noise even banged a stick against a tree. Somebody blew a whistle at one point. I returned to my car to find more cars. I only saw two groups of 4 backpackers the entire day. Nobody at any campsites. I imagine because it was 30 degrees in the evenings. I have a video of the hike here - https://youtu.be/StRx-TQ-IHs The video is quick snippets of the trails including the overlook.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 26, 2017
Did this as a solo overnighter, but since I got to the trailhead late in the day (1:30pm), I decided to hike this counter-clockwise in order to get to the summit and get camp set up before dark. If you are doing this in reverse, I should let you know I only came across ONE water source before the summit (this was about 2 miles in on the Bucktail Cutoff Trail). I made the mistake of not filling up a 2L flat Nalgene sleeve and had to conserve water greatly for the remainder of the hike and the remainder of the night/morning. I thought the start of this hike in this direction was quite interesting, not too much elevation gain, but enough to keep your mind in the right place. I should also note, the trail is covered in leaves, which should be expected as they are all mostly fallen, but with the trail being rocky, do mind your footing. There are at least two campsites at the junction of Bucktail Cutoff and the Halfmoon trail. Once you start getting towards the end of the Halfmoon trail, you can look to your left, and see the Halfmoon Lookout area, and it is quite exciting knowing that is where you are heading. The campsite before the summit, on a small trail to the left, is GIGANTIC, a fantastic option if you do not find space to set up at the summit. I got to the abandoned fire tower, and immediately noticed there was space right next to it for my 1P tent, away from the fire circle, but 10 feet from the rock outcrop. Absolutely perfect. I set up and then went further down the trail to the next overlook, do not skip this. There are a few more spots to camp, but they are very close to the trail. I would say the summit is the best area to camp if you are good with rationing your water. Broke camp at 8:30am with the goal to get back to the car at noon, but going downhill on the German Wilson Trail proved to be slow going, as the descent as pretty intense at times, coupled with the amount of leaves on the ground. I should note, if going in this direction, you'll get to the intersection of the German Wilson Trail and the fire/mine road. Looking at the map, I thought this was my left turn onto Bucktail Trail. After a 10 minute walk down the road/trail, it dawned on me that I saw a pink blaze to the right at the junction and headed back. A bit confusing, but it worked out fine. Your first water source from the summit is on the German Wilson trail after the intersection with the fire/mining road. Once you are on this area of the German Wilson Trail, it is more like a wide fire road, until you get to the Bucktail Trail. The stream crossings on this are great, easy rock hopping and great water sources, and saw a few campsites as well. After the junction of the Cacpon Trail, the rest of Bucktail trail is mostly fire road, and pretty boring, heading in this direction. Nice views of Rocky Ridge to the right, and if you turn around you see the great views of the ridges behind you.
The only wildlife I saw were some small birds and chipmunks, and a doe. I didn't see another person from the start of the trip until the last hour of my hike, and they were on horseback. I had the entire mountain to myself, can't complain! Overall I would do this again, that lookout area is great. I would never do this in the summer or when foliage is at it's greenest, the views you get from the adjacent ridges makes this a must do early spring / late fall for me.
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 22, 2017
Solo day hike the loop, follow direction to the dots. orange blade is flat and boooring (I like some elevation). purple(more pink than purple) blazed German Wilson Trail has some elevation but nothing too strenuous. reach the overlook and had the whole (both) overlook to myself. complete the loop with more flat and downhill on pink trail. third gullies has the most elevation down then up. not sure how it is 5 for view? 4 for difficulty if you have a 50lb pack.