One of the least hiked circuits in the Great North Mountain trail system. This hike passes through Sulphur Springs Gap with small waterfalls and pools then gradually climbs the eastern flank of Paddy Mountain before joining the Tuscarora Trail and hike up to to White Rock Cliff and main Opa Overlook. The descent along the Tuscarora trail is much steeper and you'll be glad to hiked this counterclockwise. Also get views through the trees of the valley below and White Rock Cliff and Tea Mountain.
If you're considering doing this as a backpack there are several great campsites close to the Opa Overlook. The main campsite are has three fire rings and is more of a group site suitable for multiple tents. If this site is taken just a few yards before it on the opposite side of the trail is a small campsite that can accommodate a single tent. And if both of these are occupied there is a larger campsite that will take multiple tens right at the junction of the Tuscarora Trail and the White Rock Cliff Lookout Trail. The only reason the camping doesn't get a top rating of 5 is the overlook and ridge campsites do not have a water source and you will have to carry water in.
Mile 4.2 - Arrive at White Rock Cliff and the Opa Overlook. There are several other viewpoints with rock outcrops to the left. From the overlook there are views east through Sheffer Gap towards the Massanutten Range and Shenandoah National Park, and to the south towards Harrisonburg VA. Return back to the intersection with the Tuscarora Trail.
Mile 4.5 - Turn right downhill on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail back towards the intersection with the Old Mail Pail.
Mile 5.0 - Turn right retracing you route to the intersection where the Sulphur Springs Trail continues straight and the Tuscarora Trail turns right downhill.
Mile 5.4 - Turn right downhill on the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail where is becomes steep in sections. There are views through the trees of the valley and in a couple of spots you can get a glimpse of White Rock Cliff. The trail will slowly become less steep and cross the stream a couple of times. Before the trail crosses a second larger stream the unblazed parking area connector trail will be on the left.
A fine hike. It hadn't rained in a long time so streams were low and there was not much mud. One campsite was in use on White Rock Cliff and other campers were in the parking area. The rockiest part was going down, but it was not bad. I carried a couple of hiking poles but never used them. As another review observes, there is a little overlap of this hike and the White Rocks hike on this site, which I've done and is nice, too. I'd rate this a high 3 or low 4 for difficulty.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 8, 2019
I did this as an overnight backpack. This was a good hike and I would do it again. I had been to the White Rocks as part of the White Rocks loop on this website, so I knew the payoff was going to be spectacular and it was. This hike seemed to have more elevation gain than that one, but it's also a bit shorter. The first part on the road isn't bad, but it was better once we got into the shaded forest. We only saw one other group of hikers, and only once we got to the overlook. If you continue after the scramble to the first view, there are a number of other pretty rock formations with good views in almost every direction. Camping at the top is pretty great, but it's dry up there so bring plenty of water for the night.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 22, 2019
We hiked this in late may. The first part of the trail was very wet but still hikeable.
The views were amazing and the trail was easy going. The elevation gain was very gentle. Effort wise I would give this a 3 for difficulty.
The only reason I wouldnt rate this a 5 star hike was the fact that except for on the Tuscarora trail there were no blazes to be found. The trail maintenance is also lacking and we found ourselves almost bushwacking at times. However the description of the trail turns were very detailed and we didnt lose our way.
5 star views and definitely follow the ridge at the top around to the left.