Either done as a longer day hike or overnight backpack, this circuit includes Big Schloss, Mill Mountain, and Stony Creek. The views from Big Schloss are spectacular, and there are also nice views of Trout Run Valley from the Mill Mountain trail. On the hike down Stony Creek you pass the PATC Sugar Knob Cabin, then camping options abound with multiple large campsites along the banks of Stony Creek. If you're looking for more solitude check out the Little Schloss hike that also descends Stony Creek but follows the Little Sluice Mountain ridgeline instead of Mill Mountain.
Mile Summary and Highlights
3.1 - Big Schloss Overlook with 270° views including Trout Run Valley and Little Sluice Mountain 6.0 - Sandstone Spring and campsites 8.0 - Sugar Knob Cabin with tent camping area and spring 10.0 - Start of good campsites along Stony Creek
Mile 0.0 - Walk west on FS92 towards Big Schloss for 0.5 miles to reach the Big Schloss
Cut-Off Trail (don't take the old faded trail but continue for
100 more yards.
Mile 0.5 - Turn right and ascend the Big
Schloss Cut-Off Trail. Roughly 0.5 miles from the ridgeline the trail becomes much steeper and makes several switchbacks before arriving at the Mill Mountain Trail. The Big Schloss Cut-Off Trail gains over 1,100 feet in lest than 1.5 miles.
Mile 1.9 - At the ridge turn left on the orange blazed Mill Mountain Trail for 0.9
Mile 2.8 - Turn left uphill on the white blazed lookout trail to go
to the Big
Mile 4.3 - Continue north along the ridgeline and orange blazed Mill Mountain Trail. There are views through the trees of Trout Valley to the west as well as campsites along the trail.
Mile 6.0 - Pass Sandstone Spring with good campsites and the top of Gutter Run. Continue for 1.4 miles passing over the high point of Mill Mountain to the intersection of the Tuscarora Trail and end of the Mill Mountain Trail.
Mile 7.4 - Turn right downhill onto the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail for 0.6 miles
and arrive at the intersection of the yellow blazed Stony Creek Trail
just past a great camping
spot on the right.
Went in to this hike going the opposite direction of the Hiking upwards recommendation. Hiked about 3.4 miles uphill and camped just beyond the cabin that was recommended by Hiking Upwards. Dropped packs to head off to the Big Schloss overlook. We wanted to summit Half Moon, but be aware, there is a false trail system that loops you around, and we never got to the summit. Another couple did the same thing, and as we poured over our maps and GPS systems, we realized this trail was never designated.
Big Schloss was beautiful, but the hike to it along the ridge is fairly mundane. Plenty of camping spots along the ridge, so please note you will never lack for camping spots on this trail. Saw plenty of people on the Big Schloss, and several other campers on the ridge.
The Schloss alone is worth it, just wish we had figured out the Half Moon summit. It is a tough out and back, even without heavy packs on, as the trail is fairly rocky.
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 7, 2018
Hiked this and the Little Schloss 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 Little Schloss hike also).
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 4, 2018
We arrived on Friday night and hiked in the dark up Little Stony Creek trail to a nice campsite by the river. The rain had stopped, but the path was muddy with running water in a lot of places which didn't make for a pleasant hike. The following morning we completed this circuit from there, first walking back down muddy Little Stony Creek trail to the parking lot.
This is a nice circuit. The mud was only bad on the bottom half of the Little Stony Creek trail the Mill Mountain ridge was dry. That was the most challenging part, and I don't think this hike deserves a five-star difficulty. The view from Big Schloss was fantastic.
We did see two fat rattlesnakes. The first was on the northern part of the Mill Mountain trail, and alerted us to its presence with a rattle. The second was coming back down Little Stony Creek trail after Sugar Knob Cabin. I've never seen a rattlesnake before while doing other hikes in this area, so I'm not sure if it had to do with the rain the previous week.
There was a PATC search and rescue training happening this weekend, and we encountered a few groups on Friday night and early Saturday who were a part of that. We didn't see any other people until we got up to Big Schloss, and then the trail was mostly empty again except for a couple of other backpackers.
There are some great campsites on this hike, and plenty of water (though when we were there it was about as wet as it could get.)
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 28, 2018
This is probably the best backpacking trip I have taken to date. Everything about it is perfect: the level of difficulty, the scenery throughout the hike, and the campsites.
The Big Schloss Overlook is part of the hike. You take a detour of a couple miles after completing the initial 1.9 mile climb, if you so choose, to witness one of the most scenic views in Virginia. This comes at the price of privacy. On the particular day we went, there were at least 3 cub scout/boy scout troops that came along, along with other hikers from the area. In my opinion, the trek to the vista was more enjoyable than the view itself.
The campsite was large and the best I have ever experienced. It was large, happened to be at the top (or close to the top) of Mill Mountain, and we had a great view of the moonlit night. This is the first time I did not need my headlamp to do chores at night and it was something else!
I have a full review of the hike here, along with my GPX track which you can download: https://adventuresinroamance.com/mill-mountain-seclusion-is-never-overrated/
C $ and da BUG BOYZZZ
Date of Hike: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Set out for some winter backpacking and settled on Mill Mountain. I had done little Sluice so I was familiar with the area and the valley that the two hikes share at the end. This is a pretty good hike. It earned its 5 star difficulty rating, regardless of which way you go you are facing an almost 2000' elevation gain over 6 ish miles. Not easy if you are wearing a pack! The views are incredibly, possibly the best 360 view I have been on in the GW. The ridge top hike along the spine of Mill Mountain is very cool, especially in winter with views off both sides. There is very very little water apart from the last couple miles that chase the creek. Also along the creek are 3-4 excellent camp sites! The trail is a little rough regarding rocks and ease of travel which knocked it down a star for me.
We saw more people than I have ever encountered in the GW, at least 25-30, the vast majority around the Big Schloss summit. Once we got into the meat of the Mill Mountain loop we had the woods back to ourselves. This is a very easy to find hike, the directions are also straight forward. If you plan on camping I recommend doing it the way they describe here, you have a better camp selection at the end which would leave you only 1-2 miles tops to the car in the morning. the Overall it really is a great hike!