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.
Little North Mountain Hike Comments
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 14, 2018
This was a fun hike because it's different. It was better to park at the new fire road higher elevation and walk down to the lower old fire road to start the hike. Using the GPS and bushwhacking back to Tuscarora is challenging and cool and quite a workout because of the deadfall. This is not regular trail walking, it's hard to keep going and trying to find some way through there, but there's a real feeling of success when you see the blue blazes. Cove run was loud and full of water. The thorns were there, and keeping the rock scree in sight will take you back to the spring and then you'll find the spur trail. There's some campsites at the top, and The Little North Ridge has good views. You come out on Zepp rd and walk back down. I started about 3p and got back to the car about 730p.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 15, 2015
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.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Not a hike worth choosing considering the amount of other great hikes around. The first few miles had too many blowdowns and we spent the majority of the time avoiding fallen trees rather than focusing on the nature around us. Not a difficult hike but beginning section desperately needs someone to walk through with a chainsaw. The summitt was ok but too many blowdowns to recommend.
Date of Hike: Sunday, February 22, 2009
After successfully parking at the correct spot, the adventure was on.
Cove Run was a higher-quality stream than expected. More water than I would've thought, and just enough waterworks to make it pleasantly audible most of the time.
The blowdowns don't really start till you get a mile in, then the next mile is finding your way around obstructions and finding your way back to the old road/trail. It's interesting to see the old fallen logs that were cleared out of the way long ago. I wonder when it stopped being maintained.
After successfully hiking close to the run after the trail ended - finding faint trails, losing them, finding some campsite someone had used not too long ago, finding another faint trail, I reached a very scenic point where the run ran underground. I believe I found the spur trail from there, and repeatedly lost it, and rediscovered it again, over and over. Thankfully, given the topography of the area, getting lost was never a concern. And just when I came across a clear space that might suffice as a campsite and seeing no trail out of it, 10 feet later I finally saw Tuscarora Blue.
The ridge walk wasn't AS nice as I would've hoped, but I think today's problem was weather-related. It's still relatively outstanding.
Date of Hike: Saturday, January 13, 2007
Hiked this trail with Snappers & Steve. I must say that if you want to take this trail on you must be ready for a lot of climbing and dunking over and under some large trees and rocks that are in the path. The trail head is a little hard to find at first because the forestry sign is no longer visible from the road for it is laying in the bushes by the trail head. But, just follow the directions above and you should have no problem getting there. The first mile and a half is an easy stroll along a mountain stream up the fire road. After that the fun begins because your fire road ends and you must bushwhack over large trees and some dense vegetation to find the trail. LONG PANTS are a must. After about a mile of hiking when the fire road ended we decided to just head up LNM which is on your left. The mountain is steep in some places but doable as long as you are careful. We arrived at the ridge in about 2 1/2 hours and found the blue trail that runs along the top of the ridge line which you take to the left back to the parking area. The views from the ridge line are very similar to those of Big Schloss. You run the ridge line for about 3 miles which is packed with great views that make all the hard work to get there worth wild. You run the blue trail back to the main road you came in on and then turn left for 1 mile back to the parking area. I would recommend this hike if you are an experienced hiker and in decent shape but would definitely not recommend it for small children or inexperienced hikers for it is easy to become lost or disoriented. All and all a great hike and took a total of 6 hours to complete.
Date of Hike: Monday, February 21, 2005
This has to be one of the best kept little secrets in the entire GWNF. I'm introducing it to a PATC Trail Overseer who is in charge of Mill Mt. There is a slight chance that he might get the forest to open Up Tea Mountain Hollow Rd and make it an official trail.
Light weight Nylon pants with zip-off legs is highly recommended when hiking this one in the summer.
One note: After the road is no longer discernable and the brush gets thick its OK to drift to the left (east) side of the hollow a bit to avoid some of the briers and brambles. Just maintain a sense for where the stream/rock scree is. We stayed just in the shadow of the hill to our left (east) which rises up to become LNM as we continued to walk up the hollow to the draw. You should still be able to find the spring photographed here. There is one more spring to the left just before you get to the spur trail.