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White Rocks - Wardensville, West Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.8 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

4.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,840 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Park on left where roads splits, or stay left uphill for 0.3 miles, and park at the gate if your vehicle has the clearance. 39.00907, -78.59647

The White Rocks hike, with the spectacular Opa Overlook, is our favorite loop hike in the Great North Mountain area. This hike has streams, great diversity in flora, and sublime solitude. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Shenandoah National Park from the Opa Overlook. This area was originally settled by German's in the 1730's, with German and Scots-Irish migrants mainly moving from the Pennsylvania area. The Opa Overlook is also accessible from the Little Sluice Hike.

  • Mile 0.0 – Start (from the lower parking area) by hiking uphill on the forestry service road (FS) for 0.3 miles where you will reach a closed gate and additional parking for five vehicles.
  • Mile 0.3Pass the closed gate and continue on the orange blazed FS road for 0.25 miles to the intersection of the pink blazed Old Mail Path on the right.
  • Mile 0.55Take the pink blazed Old Mail Path, passing a kiosk and 2 benches on the right. This section of the Old Mail Path can be very muddy in the spring.
  • Mile 0.8 – In 0.25 miles cross Cove Run and continue following the pink blazed Old Mail Path as it turns uphill through short scrub and pine arriving at a wildlife clearing, and the intersection of the orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail/FS road.
  • Mile 1.6Turn right on the orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail/FS road, pass two more wildlife clearings before the FS road ends, and the Racer Camp Hollow Trail continues into the forest. After entering the forest, the orange blazed trail will gradually descend for 0.4 miles to Racer Camp Hollow Run, and a large campsite.
  • Mile 2.8 – From the campsite, the trail heads up the valley crossing the run several times before arriving at a hunters campsite in 1.7 miles.
  • Mile 4.5 – From the hunters campsite continue 200 yards to the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail and purple blazed Little Sluice Mountain Trail. Turn left uphill on the blue blazed trail (the immediate blazes you see are the green deer study markings). After 1.4 miles the trail will have crested the ridge then arrives at the white blazed White Rocks Lookout Trail on the right. There is no signage at this intersection, but has several small cairns.
  • Mile 5.9 – Take the white blazed trail for 0.2 miles where you will pass a high mountain campsite on the right. Pass the campsite where shortly the trail will climb a steep rock scree. At the top of the scree stay left and continue around the knob to the Opa Lookout. Note: The white blazes on the top of the scree are faded and hard to see. Return to the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail to continue the hike.
  • Mile 6.4 – Turn right on the blue blazed trail for 0.5 miles then arrive at the intersection of the pink blazed Old Mail Path on the left, and the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail turns right.
  • Mile 6.9Turn left on the pink blazed trail for 1.3 miles as it descends Little Sluice Mountain before arriving back at a clearing and intersection of the orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail you were at earlier in the hike.
  • Mile 8.2Continue downhill through the clearing, on the pink blazed trail re-crossing the run and arriving back at the yellow blazed forestry service road.
  • Mile 9.5 – Turn left on the FS road passing the closed gate and upper parking area.
  • Mile 9.8 – Arrive back at the lower parking area.
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Hiker Reviews For The White Rocks Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the White Rocks hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2018
Very busy weekend on the trails. A local equine group was having their spring ride (had to dodge many land mines). Passed several other groups of folks backpacking for the weekend. The trail is great. We enjoyed each part, from the lower stream crossings to the ridge and view of the Shenandoah Valley. The weather was perfect, and the large campsite worked out well for our troop of 18 people. Thanks for your review. We printed the trail map directly from your site and used is for navigation. I would be interested in seeing more hike options in this area of the George Washington National Forest.

By: Kilian Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Did an overnight trip and stayed at the high mountain campsite. Was an incredible day, 76 degrees and no bugs since it was winter! It's a good hike with some nice scenery changes and a few lovely walks along ridge lines. The Opa Overlook is nice if often windy but my personal highlight is the campsite(s) up near the overlook.

It can be a bit muddy but is never too difficult or steep. Probably the best hike in terms of solitude, views, trail within 2 hours of DC.

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 11, 2017
A nice hike overall -- I hiked it as described, but parking 0.3 mile in at the closed gate. One of the photo captions says you need a high-clearance vehicle to get there but I did fine going slowly with my low-clearance car. I arrived at noon and met a couple returning from a morning hike but saw no one else for the rest of the hike.

I bump it up from three stars to four because of 1) the very nice Opa Lookout, and 2) the relatively low level of rockiness compared to other trails in the George Washington National Forest -- it was a fairly comfortable hike wearing my trail runners. A nice change of pace. The inclines are mostly not severe. I found a trekking pole helpful to keep my balance and not slip at times.

I saw reviews mentioning mud, so I waited a few days after the last rain I estimate I ran across about 20 muddy spots, but they were mostly very short (10-20 feet long) and mostly well packed so I didn't sink in or I could go around them. At the end of the hike my shoes were fairly clean.

Between the first and second campsite on the Racer Camp Hollow trail, I somehow crossed over the creek getting off the trail, realized my error, and got back on the right side with the aid of my GPS device loaded with the trail route, which I was glad to have. The blazes are mostly non-existent. But, if you're careful, the trail is apparent over the great majority of the hike.

A July review mentioned ticks but I didn't encounter any, nor any other pests that were bothersome.

By: Diana H Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 22, 2017
Arrived at 11am and there were no cars (You do not need a high clearance vehicle to get to the top, I drove a honda fit). The trail is not well blazed and about half-way through it becomes very thorny for ~400 meters. The view at the overlook was wonderful and it was nice to not have to share the top with anybody. Giving the hike a 3/5 because there were a lot of ticks (found 2 on my friend and 1 on myself, so definitely check periodically) and the poor blazes.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 13, 2016
The view up top was awesome, looking out at Tea and Little North Mountains with Sheffer Gap between. From Opa Overlook, we were able to see the Blue Ridge/SNP in the distance behind both arms/ridges of the Massanuttens, and of course, the Great North Mountain complex in the foreground. We could see some of the taller peaks of the South District of SNP beyond the southern end of Massanutten Mountain. Awesome views.

This was a tough trailhead to find. Well, actually not. We found it just fine. It's just that there wasn't any signage or evidence on the ground that we were at the right place and here up at the tail end of Waites Run Road is pretty much the boonies with nobody to ask. Things I will note that may help you find the trailhead: Waites Run Road becomes a dirt road about halfway to the trailhead. You may see cars parked on both sides of the road where the Tuscarora crosses: trust your mileage and keep going. Where you want to be is where the dirt road makes a definite fork. You want the upper lefthand fork. If you go right and down, you're going to find yourself by a pond and you'll know you've gone slightly too far. There is parking where the road forks. Unsure of exactly where we were, we kept trucking up the left fork until we came to the upper parking area. The gate here was not closed and is not closed during hunting season according to the sign. Still not sure if we were in the correct place (no sign saying "You are here!"), we kept going and quite quickly saw the well-marked Old Mailpath trail. We turned around and parked, the only car there probably all day. From here, the upper parking area, our GPS had us at 9.45 miles for the day.

The pink-blazed trail was pretty muddy in spots with plenty of horse droppings and bicycle tracks. Though we were alone all day, you should be prepared to share the trail. I am thankful that most of the mud was still frozen when we encountered it in the morning. Coming back in the afternoon, we at least knew in advance where the gooey bits would be.

Blazes were infrequent, but these are the kinds of trails you can't miss except for a couple of less than obvious crossings of the creek on the orange-blazed trail. It is quite clear when you are on the wrong side of the creek, however, and easy enough to backtrack to find where you should have crossed the creek.

The character of the hike changed greatly once up on the blue-blazed Tuscarora and I really enjoyed that part of the hike, walking the VA-WV border. There aren't any blazes to speak of at the turn-off of the trail to Opa Overlook, but the trail is clear and clearly marked with stone cairns. I hadn't paid too careful attention to the map before the hike and I assumed that the overlook would be at the peak of the ridgeline. In fact, you cross the peak and start descending the north side for a few hundred yards before the side trail heads off to the east. The rock scramble at the end was fun and there is currently a well-marked white blaze on the rocks just where you start to climb. Once up, while you can get a decent view just to the right, go left and down about 6-7 feet over a mini-ledge and then back up to the right. Get ready to say "Oh, wow!"

Easy walk, easy climbs, a good bit of mud, varied ecosystems, some nice ridge walking, a tiny rock scramble, spectacular views.

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