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Little Schloss - Columbia Furnace, Virginia

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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: Tessa Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 01, 2017
Made a fairly last minute decision to go her for an overnight trip on Saturday. Gorgeous weather and I really enjoyed hiking up to the meadow with the campsites, in the last hour before sunset. I didn't realize I passed the 'split in the trail after the last switchback' as there was a log across the left trail that goes to the rock scramble, and I thought it was a false trail. I set up camp in the meadow and back tracked the next morning. Not early enough for sunrise, but it was still pretty.

Those first 2 miles have numerous great views and are good fun, but the rest of the hike is a tiny bit boring. I didn't even walk the last 2.5 miles of forest service road, as an fellow hiker gave me a ride. Overall, I really enjoyed the great weather and the wonderful views from the ridge before descending though, but next time I'd probably just do a short out-and-back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 09, 2017
I took my girlfriend and her Adventure Dog on this hike for their first ever backpacking/camping trip on the first weekend of Fall weather for the year. We took the longer loop (hiking as instructed in directions, so going counter clockwise) and really enjoyed it but there were some things I wish I'd known before we went -

*Overlook:* Someone has very helpfully tied little blue ribbons to mark the trail up to the overlook, which isn't as intuitive as you might expect. The actual rock scramble itself isn't that bad - Adventure Dog was able to do most of it, but we carried him for parts because he has short legs. We did, however, trip over a rattlesnake sunning itself up at the top. The view was stunning. Be careful to note where you went in when you get up there - you can also go down the other side of the overlook, which is a significantly more dangerous and disorienting rock scramble.

*Difficulty and timing:* I usually feel the HikingUpward difficulty and timings are a little inflated, but this trail was spot on. The initial 1.8 miles up to the overlook is very steep and the trail never really levels off aside from some of the forestry road walking on the Little Sluice section. The blue blazed Tuscarora Trail section is a pretty grueling incline after you've already finished the switchbacks. With a stop for lunch and for extracurricular rock scrambling at the overlook, it took us 6 hours from start to get to the first campsite on the yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail. From there to the car, it was about 1.5 hours.

*Water:* There was no water source for us until we reached the first campsite on the yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail, 6 hours in. The "seasonal water spring" near the Sugar Knob Cabin would have marked about the 5 hour point, but it was dry for us in the Fall. There are campsites along the purple blazed Little Sluice, but if you plan to camp there make sure you pack in plenty of water.

*Campsites:* We camped at the first (northernmost) campsite along the yellow blazed Little Stoney Creek Trail. The camp was massive, could have easily accommodated three or four tents, and had Creek access although you had to hike down a bit to get to it. Plenty of firewood. Had trouble finding a tree to hang the packs - eventually hung them on a downed tree. The next campsite south is in view of the first, so could have been annoying if someone was camped there. We checked out the other campsites on the way out, and the BEST CAMPSITE is probably the third one as you walk south (so second-to-last campsite as the hike is written/second campsite if you were walking from the Little Stoney Creek parking/trailhead). It's smaller but has easiest water access.

*Road walking:* Other reviewers have complained about the FDR92 road walking, which is fine it's just... boring. If I did this again, I would probably park one car at the Little Stoney Creek parking lot and another at the Little Sluice trailhead to just skip the road walking entirely.

*Brewery:* After we were done, we were dying for a beer and discovered a local farm brewery, Swover Creek Farms, about a 10 or 15 minute drive away from the car. Great pizza, decent beer, dog friendly. Looks like they're only open Thurs-Sun.

Overall, excellent hike for first-time backpackers as long as they're in good shape - this one definitely earns its 4-star difficulty rating.

By: Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 19, 2017
I came back to do the loop as an overnight trip (Friday - Saturday) with a friend! We decided to hike CW (backwards from written), and parked at the Little Sluice trailhead in order to get the road walking out of the way. We set out around 2:30pm and arrived at the intersection of Tuscarora and Little Sluice trails around 8pm (including a couple of breaks). The creek was lovely and there were plenty of water sources up until the Little Sluice Mountain trail. It had recently rained so there were lots of puddles and mud in spots on the trail, but if you're careful it's still possible to keep your feet dry.

We didn't encounter many people on Friday, just at the Stoney Creek trailhead and the first camp along the creek. Nobody near our campsite all night, just lots of frogs and birds. We even got woken up in the middle of the night by a pair of barred owls calling to each other right outside our tent, which was awesome. Saturday we crossed paths with 6 or so more hikers along the Little Sluice trail, but still had Little Schloss to ourselves.

The side trail to Little Schloss is way more obscured now that the greenery has grown up - if I hadn't just been there a couple months earlier we might have missed it! If you're hiking CW like us - where the side trail branches off is where you have the first switchback going downhill on the main trail. It's kind of faint but the grass is flattened just enough to make out. The grass is pretty tall in parts of the trail, so be vigilant for ticks. With liberal bug spray and frequent checks, we didn't find any.. did get a few mosquito bites though.

I'm glad we did the road section first, and felt the uphills CW were less difficult. Plus, we had the rock scramble to look forward to the next day! Overall a fun hike with good amounts of solitude.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 09, 2017
Was looking for a quick backpacking trip close to DC last weekend, so chose this one because we could do a short hike in Saturday, camp at the creek, and then do most of the hike Sunday (couldn't get out to the mountains until late afternoon).
We parked at the Little Stoney Creek trailhead, and at first went the wrong way (took the trail toward the reservoir - which leaves out of the parking lot instead of the correct trail across FR92). We went about a half mile before figuring out this wasn't the right way (although the trail is nice!).
After correcting ourselves, we were able to grab one of the really nice camp sites along the creek, about a mile in. It was a really nice site with plenty of firewood, space, and the creek near by.
Got up at dawn and packed up by around 0830. The hike up to Sugar Knob Cabin was pretty rocky, but never steep so it wasn't too bad (although we were passed by some mountain bikers who biked up it - crazy). The next couple of hours were spent on the forest roads. Most of it was actually nice, although after awhile it became a bit tedious and boring. By the time we reached the Bread Road intersection, the sun was fully up and there was no shade this time of year with the leaves not yet out.
The area around Little Schloss is really nice, I think I may come back and camp up there some day. The scramble was kind of tricky but short - we got up it with our dog and full packs, so really not bad. Only a couple people up there, but one was flying a drone so that was rather annoying. The views were great.
From here to the parking lot was the worst part of the hike - the sun was warm, there was no shade, and it was incredibly dry on this side of the mountain. The 2.5 miles on the gravel road was terrible as well...just because of that I don't think I'll ever do this loop again. But it was nice to dip our feet in the creek back at the parking lot!

Overall, it was a good backpack - some nice parts (the creek, Little Schloss, and the area around Sugar Knob) but also some boring to tedious parts.

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!

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