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Tri-County – Wardensville, WV

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.6 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5.5 hours with 30 minutes of breaks
1,660 ft
George Washington National Forest
Topo Hike Trails Map (PDF)
Wardensville, VA Weather Forecast
Garmin (GDB), Gaia/Trails App (GPX) (What's this?)
3D View of Route

Park at the ridge on the south side of US48/55 at the Tuscarora Trail.
    Do Not block the forestry gate. 39.08535, -78.51080

This out and back hike from US 48/55 to Gerhard Shelter passes a stone marker designating the junction of three counties in two states. Frederick Co VA, Shenandoah Co VA, and Hardy Co WV. There are also several good vistas along the hike. The view from the second campsite, views east and west from the clear-cut, and the view east from the tri-county marker. Gerhard Shelter has room around it for several tents, and a spring is located 0.25 miles down the white blazed Gerhard Shelter Trail. Besides as a day hike, this also makes for a nice weekend backpack.

  • Mile 1.8 - Pass a campsite on the left with nice views through the gap. Again this campsite can be more overgrown in the warmer months, but is clear and has room for multiple tents late Fall through early Spring. In another 100 yards pass through a utility clear cut with panoramic views to the east and west. After the clear-cut the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail becomes more narrow. Continue along the ridge as the Tuscarora trail passes over two more rises then look for a small side trail on the left.
  • Mile 2.9 - Take the side trail on the left to an overlook to the east where a stone marker is located. The marker designates where three counties and two states meet. Frederick Co VA, Shenandoah Co VA, and Hardy Co WV. For the next 1.4 miles the trail passes over four more knolls before arriving at Gerhard Shelter.
  • Mile 4.3 - Gerhard Shelter has a large fire ring, and enough space surrounding it for several tents. There is a spring located 0.25 miles downhill on the white blazed Gerhard Shelter Trail. Gerhard Shelter is the turn around point for the hike. Retrace your route back to the north.
  • Mile 8.6 - Arrive back at US 48/55 and parking area.
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Early July
Late February
Gerhard Shelter/Great North Mountain
Tri County Marker
Tri-County Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: Steve Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 21, 2019
I enjoyed this hike. The trail is well maintained. I could see where grass had been cut in spots including at the campsite at mile 1.8. The shelter is a nice spot to sit for a while. The half of the trail closest to parking is remarkably smooth. It's rocky but filled in with dirt and grass. The half of the trail closest to the shelter turns rockier more toward what I am accustomed to elsewhere on the Tuscarora Trail but it's not bad. I heard several gunshorts from down in the valley to the east reminding me that hunting is permitted in national forests and I should check hunting seasons and maybe wear a bright color during those seasons when I go to the forest again. Great vistas to the east at the mile 1.8 campsite and at some rock outcroppings near mile 2.9 but otherwise the views were mostly obscured by leaves. That's fine with me but if better views are important to you winter may be a better time for this hike. I tried but failed to find the tri-county marker at mile 2.9. The description reads "Take the side trail on the left to an overlook to the east where a stone marker is located." I didn't see a side trail. The blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail veered left and soon after there was a prominent rock outcropping, about 20 x 20 feet on the left at a high point. I looked all around but didn't see the marker. (I did see a geocache box under the outcropping.) I looked at my phone map and I was at or near the intersection of county lines. I looked at the photos on the hike description. I looked further up and down a bit further on the ridge, and nothing. One of the GPX file waypoints is for the marker, but using my phone's GPS app to get to that point led me a bit further away (I think too far) into some unpromissing brush I didn't want to tackle. It is very possible I either misinterpreted the directions or the marker was there and I overlooked it. If you find the marker and leave a review please give me a little more guidance and I may try to check it out again.

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