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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
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Little Schloss hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Little Schloss Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Little Schloss hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 8, 2018
Hiked this and the Mill Mountain trail over the weekend of Oct 6- 8, 2018.

Started up Little Sluice trail to Little Schloss (great view), turned left onto the Tuscarora Trail, turned left again onto Mill Mountain Trail, side hiked Big Schloss (all fogged in -- no view at all), then down the Big Schloss cutoff trail back to the car. All told about 15 miles over two nights.

Great hike. Trail was not crowded at all (saw maybe a half-dozen people all weekend). Great weather, nice trails, although parts of the Little Sluice trail were muddy and wet (due to recent rain? Hasn't been like that on past trips). Lovely area to hike in.

The spring on Little Sluice trail was running well (38.9573, -78.6200). Sandstone Spring (38.96901, -7864256) was running very strong with plenty of water.

(Posting this under the Mill Mountain hike also).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 10, 2018
Overall, a really great one night backpacking trip close to DC. I knocked off one star because I could not for the life of me find the trail split to go to the Little Schloss overlook. It could be possible that the recent wind storm obscured the entrance with downed trees, but I didn't see any markings of any kind. I'll definitely keep a sharper eye out next time I do this loop. Even though I missed the official overlook, there were still plenty of nice views from the trail after passing Little Schloss.

Also important to note that FR88 was closed about a mile from the intersection with FR92, so that added an extra 1.5 miles each way to my hike to get to and from the Little Sluice trail head. The hiking was very easy, but it was irritating to finish the loop on 4 miles of fairly featureless forest road. Won't knock off a star for that though, since it's not really the trail's fault!

There is a great campsite just past the intersection with Little Stoney Creek Trail on the left, which is where I spent the night. The spring is marked with a wooden sign nailed to a tree a ways down the trail from the PATC cabin. It was running freely in mid-March, which was lucky as there weren't any water sources before that. Between my parking spot on FR88 and my campsite took me about 4.5 hours including breaks. The second day of hiking was much easier, as it was mostly downhill and about half on a forest road. Took me about 3.5 hours (including the 1.5 miles between the Little Sluice parking area and where I actually parked). There are some really beautiful campsites on Little Stoney Creek Trail too.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 4, 2017
We did the loop and it was a good hike but your on a fire road 50% of the time with four wheel drive vehicles trying to pass you. We didn't mind but the solitude factor was gone. Good views and great camping by the stream.

By: Tessa Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 1, 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 9, 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.

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