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Hiker Comments for the Big Schloss Hike - 1 to 100 of 100   
Average Rating:

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 31, 2019
Did an early afternoon trip. I was moving at a pretty good pace as the weather was cool, so it took me about an hour to get up and 45 minutes to get back down after I spent 20 - 30 minutes up top. If I hadn't needed to get home, I would have spent longer up there as it is really quite nice to relax on the rocks. I came across three pairs on the way up, a group of 6 at the top and about four more people on the way down. Having the top to yourself is quite an experience.

With the leaves having filled in, there aren't too many views on the way up. The mountain laurel was blooming which was nice and the trail had drained well enough that only a few spots were muddy.

As an aside, there were quite a few spots where folks had made fires, including under a rock overhang near the top which I could smell was relatively fresh. It's forest service land, so perhaps that's legal but it certainly wasn't LNT...

I wasn't aware this is a horse trail, but there was also evidence of horses having been on the trail recently, so beware as you're walking!

This trail is now one of my favorites!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 28, 2018
This is a very pretty hike, and the camping available at the recreational area is very nice. My group and I found great difficulty in the initial 800 ft climb to the first overlook. The grade in some places felt almost as steep as 45 degrees. After the initial climb, the trail just wandered along the ridge, and we reached Big Schloss for good break to take in the views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2018
THIS IS MY FAVORITE LOCAL HIKE (I live in Winchester)!!! It's amazing in the summer and fall. We just went in April and it was still beautiful but there was not much foliage. The great thing about that was that you could see even farther into the distance, but I prefer the greenery. The best time to go would be between July-October for the summer or fall views.

By: VaHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 1, 2018
New Years day hike. 10 degrees at the trailhead, who knows up top. I solo'ed this time expecting to see no one but I saw 2 more solos and 2 couples. The snow was under 1 inch so there was no trouble hiking. Great day hike. it took me 1 hour up and 50 min back. One of my favorites!

By: Arjun Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 15, 2017
I would highly recommend this hike for someone looking for easy to moderate 4 mile hike. We hiked this one on this past Sunday afternoon and the trail was mostly empty for most of the hike, We did meet a few other people at the summit. So if you looking for peaceful empty trail , this is the one and the views from the top are incredible. Started around 2:30 and were back to the parking lot at 5:30 after spending quite a good amount at the top.

By: Phil S. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 8, 2017
This is a fantastic hike! Starts out with a moderate climb, followed by a mostly level breathtaking walk along the ridge. Along the ridge you have a clear view towards the south east almost the whole time. There are many points were you can sit and enjoy the view in relative solitude even though the trail is popular. The bridge and the cliffs at the summit are really striking, and provide dramatic views to the north west. This a really great climax to the trail.

I've hiked most of the Shenandoah trails on here and this is in my top three. Very surprised that it only scored a 5 in the view category. This hike has better views than Sky Meadows and you can see them for a much greater percent of the hike. I can't wait to do Big Schloss again, I'm going to try it in all the seasons.

I did Tibbet Knob as, which was a great little hike. If you arrive early enough you could probably do both in the same day.

By: Bret Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 23, 2017
Wonderful hike with amazing views. After reading the other reviews I decided to hike Big Schloss and wish I had done it sooner. After the initial climb it's an easy hike along the ridgeline with plenty of places to stop and take in the view. The views from Big Schloss were wonderful and the breeze was welcome on a humid overcast day. I hiked this on a Friday and was surprised to only pass 4 other hikers with none at the overlook. Only surprise was a timber rattlesnake that was more interested in the sun than me as I passed. I have hiked many trails in Shenandoah NP and the views here were better than most of them. This will now be a go to when want a easy day with good views. Also hiked Tibbet Knob on the same day, great views and a new favorite as well

By: Julie Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 21, 2017
My husband and I hiked Big Schloss on this weekend before Memorial Day in order to avoid what we assumed would be larger crowds Memorial Day weekend. There were still ~8 other cars in the Wolf Gap lot, but it wasn't overflowing. The weather was damp but not raining and it was a little foggy at the overlook. The trail is wide and clear so you can see the roots/rocks in the trail. It is steep the first mile as others have said, but not too bad. I'm 6 months pregnant and I did it without feeling overwhelmed. We stopped on the incline a few times for me/us to rest, but beyond that main climb, it was not too challenging. The bridge at the overlook is pretty awesome and the overlook itself had beautiful views! We saw some birds, chipmunks, frogs, and salamanders. It was a nice hike, not too many people the day we chose to go. We hiked Tibbet Knob last season and that was a more difficult hike. As we were hiking down we passed a few groups who were asking if they had much further to go. I said "if I can do it 6 months pregnant, than you certainly can!" Hopefully they continued on. Certainly once you finish the first incline and get to the ridge, the rest is nice!

By: Becky Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 14, 2017
This hike was wonderful! I will say that for a "2" on the difficulty scale, the first .75 miles is pretty steep. It's doable, that's for sure, but it is not a two. My girlfriend and I are both personal trainers, and it was definitely a bit of a challenge to start off. Taking little breaks here and there is probably your best bet. We passed several people taking breaks on the way up. There were two women we passed that were probably in their sixties who were taking a break headed to the top. They expressed that it was harder than they anticipated. We never saw them again, so I assume that they gave up and turned around. That's not to say that someone in their sixties or older can't do it! Just make sure you have water, and are prepared to take little pit stops every once in awhile. After the first .75 miles it's pretty much easy sailing. Once you hit the two mile mark, you will then have another .25 miles up another steep incline. And then, voila! The views are outstanding! Definitely worth checking this place out.

By: nematode Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
So my boyfriend and I really had no idea what we were getting into it was our first time backpacking in, my first time camping not at a music festival. The hike up was difficult for two people who rarely exercise, but aren't necessarily out of shape, and carrying heavy packs. There was only one other couple on the trail, but more people than we were expecting camping in the meadows.

The views were really everything and more. We got there right at sunset and the next morning we woke up early to catch the sunrise. We got lucky because it was a full moon that weekend, and watched the sun rise as the moon set.

Definitely recommend, definitely will go back.

By: Beth M Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 11, 2016
I arrived on a Thursday around 6:15pm, there were 3-4 sites filled at the campground. Thanks to the reviews here I decided to hike up to Big Schloss and camp there. Even though I hadn't been backpacking in a while, I made it with enough time to set up my tent and watch the sun set. The first bit of the trail was difficult and I stopped quite a few times to catch my breath, but for those of you more in shape or with day packs it wouldn't be nearly as bad! I found 3? campsites on top, and picked the one on the east side closest to the bridge - wonderful view of the sunrise from there.

I encountered one group of hikers on my way up, but when I got to the top I was the only one around. It was great! Unfortunately, around 11pm I was about to fall asleep when a group of 4 college-like kids practically stumbled into my tent... turns out they were there to drink and smoke on Big Schloss until sunrise... didn't get much sleep after that because they were talking loudly and the sound carried. It sounded like the reason they picked that night was the meteor shower, so probably other weekday nights you'd have a better chance of solitude. I did see quite a few meteors as I was lying awake in the night, a good spot for stargazing even with the towns visible across the valley. Plus with their chatter I was no longer worried about bears :P Actually, the only wildlife I saw was an owl (awesome) and many assorted bugs (flies, millipedes, butterflies, some really talkative crickets outside my tent). Definitely bring bug spray, I was lax on application and came out with a lot of mosquito bites.

After sunrise and a leisurely breakfast, it was quick getting back to my car. Good thing too since it was heating up fast. I had wanted to do the Tippet's Knob hike afterwards but my shoes had fallen apart so I ended up heading home. (They were old and I should've checked them better - the trail is mostly rocky the entire way, so you do want sturdy shoes.) I'm planning to come back and do them both! This was a great "intro" backpacking trip - short but just enough challenge, well-trafficked and close to civilization but still can find solitude. Not to mention the amazing view once you get there!

By: Richard W et al. Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
We did this as a part of 2 day hike, with the first day at Strickler knob trail about 40 min drive away. We camped at Wolf Gap campgrounds overnight at late March and it was fairly cold so dress accordingly.

The first part of the trail is steep uphill that goes on for about half a mile. Then the trail rides the ridge until it reaches a sign that either lets us continue to Mill Mountain or turn right to head up Big Schloss. the Big Schloss portion that followed is rather rocky but still pretty easy as it goes all the way to the wooden manmade bridge that stretches across two large rocks. About 20 feet past the bridge there are lots of large rocks at the tip of this valley that offers wide view over the entire ridge. Big Schloss' views are on par with Old Rag's and slightly below Strickler Knob's in my opinion. But since it's so short and easy comparatively, I'd say it gives the fastest reward.

One thing my group kind of regretted not doing was camping at the top of Big Schloss instead of the Wolf Gap campgrounds. Near the wooden bridge at the summit there are at least 2-3 spots that can easily serve as great camping sites (one of them is inside a half cave, which can shelter campers from strong night winds). We say this because at a cloudless night, we saw basically the entire milky way from Wolf Gap but the views were obstructed by the trees. If we camped up at the top, the star views would have been even greater. Overall a great hike with fast returns on time and energy investment.

By: T. Heinz Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 27, 2016
Combined this with a hike up Tibbet knob. Most people were doing Big Schloss, so we did it after Tibbet. The combined total for the two trails is around 7 miles, so it's a good way to do two trails with different characteristics, and both with great views without needing to log a huge amount of miles or time. Once you get past the first 1/2 mile on this trail, which is pretty much all-up hill, the trail becomes much more moderate. This time of the year you have great views for a good chunk of the hike since a fair bit is spent walking along the ridge line and there's no foliage to block your views. Some fun rock scrambling and good views of Little Schloss and Tibbet Knob from Big Schloss.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 24, 2015
My wife and I only had a few hours to get away before a family dinner. Had hiked the Big Schloss for the first and last time one cloudy cool June day about 22 years ago. Ironically, the weather on this Christmas Eve was exactly the same as then. While not typical for December, the warm weather made for a great hike. We captured many good photos along the trail and on the rocky cliffs. The trail itself was quite technical, but not overly strenuous. Heard and saw Ravens on the way out, which was a nice find. Other than the one family camping near the entrance and the young couple we passed on the way back, we had the mountain to ourselves.

Highly recommend this hike if you're short on time and want the most bang for the effort!

By: Barb Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 1, 2015
Absolutely beautiful views. Walking the ridge of Virginia for a good mile and the West Virginia / Va views _ WOW. The first .7 as everyone said was the toughest part but even then as long as you take your time it isn't too bad. I've done many more challenging lately such as Raven rock and White Oak/ Cedar Run. Big Schloss is now very near the top of my favorite list just behind Dragon tooth!

By: Barb Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 1, 2015
Absolutely beautiful views. Walking the ridge of Virginia for a good mile and the West Virginia / Va views _ WOW. The first .7 as everyone said was the toughest part but even then as long as you take your time it isn't too bad. I've done many more challenging lately such as Raven rock and White Oak/ Cedar Run. Big Schloss is now very near the top of my favorite list just behind Dragon tooth!

By: Dwhitten Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 18, 2015
Third time up to one of best views in northern Shenandoah valley. Took my 3 year old and 6 month old and no issues until little rock scrambling at the top if u want to explore. Not a bad uphill to the ridge line and great views year round along most of the ridge line.

By: Craig C. Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 7, 2015
I did this hike with my two teen daughters and we had a great Labor Day hike to the rocks. Everyone said the first mile is really steep, but we didn't think it was so bad. The views were great and we loved rocks. We took about an hour to eat lunch and were finished in 3 hrs total, and we were casually hiking and enjoying the views. Can't wait to go back.

By: John M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 22, 2015
Nice, pleasant hike.

The hard part is at the beginning of the trail which is really not too hard, just a steady up hill. Hiked this with my 6 year old son and while he wasn't a fan up the first part, enjoyed the view and climbing around at the top.

Also hiked to Tibbet's knob and camped there for the night.

Next time I do this it will only be to the Big Schloss to just enjoy the rocks and surroundings longer. Enjoyed exploring around Tibbets knob, but Big Schloss has more rocks. I noted several camp sights near the top and a lot of possibilities along the long flat area along the mostly flat ridge of the trail that would also afford very nice fall views for camping.

By: Jack Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 16, 2015
Great hike. Talk about turn on investment, left Washington DC on Sunday at 3:45pm, hit the trail at 6:00Pm with overnight packs, and made it to the summit by 7:30, just in time for the sunset at the knob. The view from the rock outcropping is incredible, more than a 270 degree panorama. Later that night the stars came out and the entire milky way was visibile. Camped right by the Knob and had a great sunrise to wake up to.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 15, 2015
At trailhead/parking lot, look for signs to Mill Mountain as sign for Big Schloss summit only appears at final 1/4 mile of hike. Views at the summit spectacular - exceeded my expectations. It was a hot afternoon so the hike up was sweaty.

Passed about a dozen people and half as many dogs. Trail gets very narrow and overgrown when it flattens out, so I'd recommend bug spray. Coming down very fast and easy.

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 2, 2015
This hike has always been a favorite of mine, but I hadn't hiked it much since I moved north. As usual, the views on Big Schloss are excellent. I would normally rate this 5 stars, but the condition of the trail was not good. The initial ascent (the only hard part on the hike) was made harder due to bad erosion on the trail. Alot of the trail at the top of the mountain was nearly overgrown, and much narrower than I remember. I think someone needs to give the trail some TLC. There were a lot of hikers out today, but iylt still was pretty good. Again, the views at the end are great!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 19, 2015
I've been wanting to hike Big Schloss for a while now and finally made it out. Started the hike at approximately 10:20am and finished at approximately 2pm. The hike out is essentially the most difficult part, with the first mile being a relatively difficult assent. Once you reach the ridge line it is easy going until you reach the branch off for the trail up to the look out.

Only saw four people on the hike out, but passed several groups on the way down. Definitely worth getting out here early if you want to have some time at the look out in peace. I would agree with all the ratings for this hike. There were many campsites scattered all along the trail and even two nice ones up at the look out.

I will say that the ridge line area and farther down the mill mountain trail past the branch off for the look out, the trial is a little overgrown. Pants and bug spray would probably be recommended, although I wore shorts with bug spray and found no ticks afterwards.

I'd definitely recommend this hike and would be great as an overnight trip!

By: John J Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 19, 2015
Camped in site #9 of Wolf Gap so I literally just had to walk out of my tent and begin the hike.  I left at 7am and without making any effort to go fast the round trip, with about 30 minutes at Big Schloss, took me 3 hours.  Solitude was not an issue as I saw only one other person on the trail.  That may have been partially attributable to how early I went.  It's a beautiful hike and, even on a slightly overcast and rainy day, the views from Big Schloss were stunning. In some stretches, there was quite a bit of poison ivy growing along the sides of the tail.  Once you finish the initial climb, it really is just a nice walk in the woods although there is a stretch right after the initial climb where there are not many blazes.  But, the trail is so obvious and without any thing that looks like a spur that it's not a big deal.  The rainy did make the descent near the end of the trail a little bit trickier as the rocks were slick.  On the plus side, it meant there was a nice breeze to keep me cool.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 9, 2015
Another training hike for the Wandering Fools this weekend. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and planned to do both of the hikes available from this parking lot. We started on the trail to Big Schloss around 11:30 am. The trail's most difficult part occurs in the first 3/4 of a mile with a moderate and challenging ascent to the ridge. Once you get to the top, you are immediately awarded with a beautiful view of the valley from a rock outcrop. You will continue to see this view off and on as you hike along the ridge on the way to Big Schloss. We enjoyed this part of our hike very much. The terrain was relatively flat and the scenery was gorgeous. About 2 miles into the hike, you will reach the intersection of  turn off point to Big Schloss. The next 1/4 of a mile is uphill but not too bad considering what you get to see when you reach the top. The views from Big Schloss were incredible. It was a clear and sunny day so we could see for miles and miles. We were surprised at how many people were at the overlook since we saw very few people on our hike up. It was definitely crowded but we were still able to secure our only little spot and enjoy a quick bite to eat before heading back to the parking lot.

There are several great campsites located by Big Schloss. We considered turning this into a quick backpacking trip before realizing that the campsites appear to attract a young crowd of people who enjoy hanging out and playing music. It looks like it could get quite crowded on a Saturday night but watching sunrise/sunset from the top of Big Schloss is definitely getting added to the "must do" list.

We made it back down to the car pretty quickly and took a 20 minute rest before heading over to begin the hike to Tibbet Knob. PS - if you decide to do both in one day, bring lots of water and prepare for a workou! Tibbet Knob may be short but it is steep!

By: Court S. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 12, 2015
This was an unexpected gem that I found just meandering through the GW Natl Forest. After a very steep ascent, the hike levels out on the ridge line and just takes your breath away. The overlook at the end of the point was fantastic. Definitely save your lunch for the end and plan to spend some time absorbing the near panoramic view from on top of the rocks. I would rate the difficulty as a 3, rather than 2. The ascent at the trailhead was quite rocky with loose dirty and gravel. Even in my trainers, I slipped several times. Will return when the trees get a bit more green on them.

By: Jennifer C. Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Well, the solitude factor did not apply today, we didn't see anyone else the entire hike. The temperature stayed below freezing, but we layered well, so it was not a problem. The snow was deep, any where between an inch to two feet. I did where waterproof boots and storm socks, so this was not such a problem either. It took us approximately an hour and 20 minutes to get from the camp ground to the Big Schloss lookout point, and about 45 minutes to get back to the parking lot. This trail was very steep for the first mile, and at other points through out. I'm not sure if this hike would have been as hard with out the snow, or if the steepness really is that tiring the rest of the year. There are also really no places to step off the trail and take a breather for the first mile, just straight up. The view at the top is spectacular, and my hiking partner agreed the hike was worth the view, and the bridge at the top.

By: Alec Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 22, 2015
So todays solitude was incredible, only seeing one other pair on this hike was pleasant. But starting roughly at 1:30, we got to the top around 2, and to the end around 2:30-45ish, not saying that it was a problem, but I guess this was just easy for me in the snow! But the views were left and right, absolutely gorgeous! Esp in the winter due to all the leaves fallen you can see a greater picture of the mountains besides you through the trees while walking towards the edge of Big Schloss. Great views, cool fox prints and it gave me cool pictures :D

By: John M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 22, 2014
Very nice hike. I hiked this early Saturday because I was going to be down in Harrisonburg anyway. Only 2 other cars in the Campground/parking lot when I got there about 9:30 - 9:45. When I returned (12:15 - 12:30), the parking lot was full, with cars (from boyscout troop?) parking on the side of the road in. The campground appeared to be about half full, which was surprising because it was in the mid 20's at night but I was thinking of camping myself, but would have got there to late to enjoy on Friday. Two permanente "out-houses" in the campground.
The hike was as many described, a steady uphill for the first part, but not too long, with the rest either flat or very gradual ups/downs. Once up on the ridge, there's a lot of nice year-round views looking east.  I hiked this one because I wanted to scout out more hikes to take my kids (6, 9 & 11) on which are not too long, with rocks and rewarding views. This is definitly a must do with my kids. To compare it to other hikes, (my kids have done), it's most similar to Annapolis Rocks. Easier than Maryland Heights, and a bit harder than Sugarloaf Mtn (Maryland). The top is a nice rocky point, but a ton to crawl around and explore. The summit is definitly somewhere to linger and soak in the views. 

By: jack Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 16, 2014
great hike with great views at the summit, today was quite cold though, very windy at the summit, crowds were not an issue today, saw only three other groups however, this hike does NOT take four hours, rather a little over a hour to get up there and a little less than a hour to get back

By: Rachel Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 5, 2014
Great hike and perfect weather. Fantastic views and a fun hike along the ridgeline. Perfect way to spend an early fall day. Great family hike. Will definitely do this one again. I found using GPS longitude/latitude to be the easiest navigational tool. The road was a bit twisty and the directions were a skosh confusing. Enjoy the trail and bring a camera!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 4, 2014
the Wolf Gap trail head, is not too far from the exit on I-81 (~15min) The hike was a clear 50degree day with 10-15mph wind gusts. Took my 7yo and 5yo daugters and my 80lb Labradoodle, and they loved it... the first steep accent is short lived to a wonderful mid hike view to the east. great time for a pit-stop. the hike along the ridge to Big Schloss is littered with overlooks. Approaching the summit, to the left, there is a camp site in a "cave" of sorts with a rock formation sheltering 2 sides of it, appeared to be no water, but had a rock fire ring. to the right, just before the bridge is a smaller campsite (2p small tent) with a amazing view to the east (I will be back for this one). The summit is gorgeous, the girls loved it, and dispite some others concers about dogs able to make it to the summit, my dog had no trouble getting over the bridge and to many of the overlooks, the highest point (with the 360 view) req a bit of scrambling, and my furry friend needed a bit of help. We stayed the evening at the campsites (FYI there is a large field with day-use tables and grills, I almost set up camp there. The water source was still damaged(vandalized) so no water source at this time.) the actual sites are well spaced and flat pad was present, the privy appeared well maintained. Overall the hike is great, definitely recommended.

By: kesners Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 1, 2014
I took my family and some friends on this hike today. It was a real enjoyable hike for all of us. We really enjoyed the view from Big Schloss.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 7, 2014
Wow, the views are so beautiful! An easy trail, too. A lot of people along the way, but I can see why. Would love to camp this sometime and watch the sunset and sunrise from the end. Tibbet Knob (the other direction from the parking lot) is very much worth it, too.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Last time I did this hike was in the fall when the leaves were turning.....great time to get wonderful pics! But, I was not disappointed doing this hike in the middle of the summer. There were plenty of summer wildflowers along the ridge of the mountain. Spotted a Coal Skink on one of the rocks, which was nice. There were a lot of bees however, they did not bother you and were great for photo shots with the wildflowers! There were blackberries and blueberries along the trail. Since it was a weekday, there were few people around. I got to spend an hour on the rocks by myself, which was incredibly satisfying. Enjoyed the views as always!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 18, 2014
Although strenuous for the out-of-shape (like myself), Big Schloss is one of my favorite hikes! The view is as breathtaking as the hike itself. (Don't worry, there are plenty of rocks to sit and take a break on.) At the right time of year there are even blackberries and blueberries along the trail to munch on. I usually camp at the "base" of the trail in one of the well-maintained tent sites, and I've never had a problem there.
One small note: at least as of 7/18/14, the hand operated water pump was out of commission. I suggest bringing a few gallons of your own water if you plan to camp, or a purifier to use the spring water along the road in several locations.
Happy hiking!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 18, 2014
My wife and I love Big Schloss, and we had a great day hiking this visit. I also brought along my quadcopter (drone) and took some aerial video of the vista! It was a blast, and I look forward to doing the same on future hikes. Enjoy the video!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 3, 2014
this was a really fun hike... we hiked in the day before up the Tuscarora Pond Trail and camped near the Sugar Knob Cabin on top of Mill Mountain. Saturday we hiked back and down 4 miles on the Mill Mt Trail to the Schloss. This provides an amazing view of the Schloss from the North as you approach it. The hike off the trail up was an easy 1/4 mile and the views on top were impressive. Great spot to sit and eat lunch.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 5, 2014
This was an amazing hike. We started at Wolf Gap and hiked slightly over two miles to the Big Schloss. We then decided to continue another 3 1/2 miles to the natural springs. If you have the chance I wouldn't miss it. Previous posters stated there was good camping down near Stoney Creek but the camping was amazing near the springs. Flat ground, no widow makers, out of the wind, and lots of privacy even with other backpackers near by. We ran into several scout troops on the trip. All in all this is one of my all time favorite hikes. The beginning of the trail might be a little tough for a beginner but after the first half mile it really is a level 2 trail. I know the reviews say the views are really amazing but that is an understatement. Bring plenty water with you. You may have to travel 4-5 miles before you come across a water source. I’m doing this one again in the late spring. To see a video review of the hike you can visit

By: Bryan Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 24, 2014
Big Schloss has the most amazing views of any hike I have ever been on. The 360 degree view on the top is stunning and is impossible to forget. The hike getting there isn't too difficult. When we went, there was still 2-4 inches of snow on the trail as we went up, which made the trail slippery and pretty hard to get up at some points, which was even worse getting down. Without this it would have been a cakewalk. The ridge line at the top has some nice views, but just make sure to bring sunscreen because it is very exposed. We didn't see a single person when we went, but this was in March after a big snow. This is an absolutely beautiful place and I highly recommend the hike to everyone.

By: Jessie L Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 16, 2013
This was a really great hike - the trail was well-marked and easy to follow, and the ridge-walk portion was especially beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised that the ridge walk included unobstructed views in both directions. The bulk of the effort comes at the beginning of the trail, but after you climb the switchbacks for about 20 minutes, it's a level 1 difficulty the rest of the way. You could easily do this with children or folks who aren't expert hikers.

As a bonus, you can bring your dog on this trail - we actually passed a whole group of dog owners.

The trail was well maintained and though we lucked out and had nice weather, I wouldn't be afraid to hike this trail even later into winter. The view from the rock outcropping was spectacular - I can second the trail guide's recommendation to plan to eat your lunch up there. I will say that the rock outcropping does require a little bit of climbing and there was a section where you had to be careful not to fall off the mountain.

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 12, 2013
I hiked here for my birthday in the pouring down rain. The campground and parking lots are all open. This is because it is run as part of a national forest. as opposedto a National Park. All national forest land and their associated campgrounds and parking areas are not affected by the government shutdown. That said the trail was suprisingly overgrown. There were also a lot of hikers. In the past I usuall saw 2-3 people but on that day I saw about 50. I have nothing to say about views. The fog was extremely thick. It was just nice to be hiking on my birthday. :)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 11, 2013
We did this hike beginning at the trailhead off of Forest Road 92 where it intersects with Little Stony Creek (no closures or restrictions despite the government shutdown). Hiked up the Little Stony Creek drainage to the PATC Cabin and then on to Big Schloss. We did this hike in heavy rain, and it was still wonderful. Little Stony Creek is peaceful with plentiful backcountry camping options, and Big Schloss is an impressive rocky outcrop. Will be sure to try it again on a clear day with a more expansive view!

By: Rob Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 5, 2013
Had a nice hike to a wonderful overlook at Big Schloss. The Big Schloss overlook gives you the feeling of being on a large pillar. Also, I'm posting this info about Wolf Gap campground here since I can find it nowhere online: As of 10/5/2013, Wolf Gap campground and parking are closed due to the government shutdown. I got conflicting information from the sheriff personnel about parking near the entrance of Wolf Gap. Here is what I think the rules are: parking along Wolf Gap road is OK as long as all tires are off the road surface. Parking along the entrance to Wolf Gap campground (up to the yellow tape) is OK as long as NF vehicles can get by if they can't get by then the side that has fewer cars will be towed clear.

By: Bobby Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 14, 2013
We went on a weekday, and we saw literally three other people on the trail during the entirety of the hike, although when we got back to the campgrounds there were a lot of campers who had recently gotten there.  The first half mile or so is a pretty good incline, but the rest is a nice hike along the ridge, which offered some very nice views east and west.  The rocks along the trail made it more technical than others we have hiked, so there was that added challenge.  When we got close to the end at the peak, the rock scrambles kept it interesting, considering I also had an 18 month old on my back!  However, the views at the peak were outstanding!  It was one of the better views I had seen from a peak hike, and it was a great day to do it.  If you get caught in a rainstorm, there is a good outcropping of rocks that might keep you dry near the top. 

On the way down, especially the descent, was also a special challenge with the small rocks on the trail.  I think if I had to rate the difficulty, I would actually give this a "3" instead of a "2."  It wasn't extremely challenging, but a "2" seemed a little low.
All in all, great hike, and I really enjoyed it, and I hope to do it again.  It was a perfect length for an afternoon hike, a good challenge, and if you perservere, fantastic views from the peak.

By: Ashley L. Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 27, 2013
This was my first time hiking Big Schloss, and it will not be the last! Finding the Mill Mountain Trail (by campsite 9) was a little challenging, however some friendly hikers showed my friends and me the way. The first portion of the hike was fairly steep, but then tapered off to an enjoyable hike. We missed the wildflowers in bloom by about a week, which was slightly disappointing, but still beautiful. We began our hike around 930 am, and only passed a few people along the trail. We were blessed to have the view to ourselves, and we ate our lunch on the rocks. On the way back down, we passed a lot of traffic on the trail, including quite a few dogs. We will particularly remember to leave early for this hike to enjoy the most solitude along the way. I recommended this hike to anyone looking for a breathtaking view.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Easter weekend hike was the busiest I had EVER seen the trail. Not a surprise that there was several inches of snow climbing up the first portion of the trail, which made for a muddy, slushy hike even in 55-degree weather.

It'd been a few years since I'd been on the trail - very happy to see they've built a brand new bridge at the top. Very sturdy. My little cocker spaniel did well on this trail, and usually you can get away without a leash, but not this time around. My family cabin is just down the WV mountainside so we've done this hike numerous of my absolute favorites. Camping at the Wolf Gap Recreation is free, btw. Nice little area.

By: Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 24, 2013
Left early in the AM, was hoping to see the sunrise but had a little trouble finding the parking area. I brought along my small  dog. I think this was a great distance for her as she was one tired little pup at the end. I have to say this is probably one of my favorite hikes. The views were amazing and LOVED the bridge at the top. I didn't see any hikers on the trails but I did see a few tents at the campground. The weather was good a little cool but not to bad. Their was snow snow on the ground in the beginning. I did notice that a lot of the trees looked like they were burnt not sure if their was a fire their at some point.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Beautiful clear day, little cold, but great views. In the words of some fellow hikers, it's a nice short hike w/ a pretty grand payoff. Finished this hike in about 3 hours (Including both a 20 minute stop at the top and a 5-10 minute exploratory hike (where the trail turns left onto the ridge of Mill Mountain).  Steady climb up until you reach the ridge and then a fairly easy trek along the ridge until you catch the .25 mile offshoot to the overlook. Beautiful panoramic views and looks like a lot of great spots just off the trail to pitch a tent for an overnight.

By: JEff Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 2, 2013
A very cold day to hike, overcast and windy but no precip, and we were the only two hikers. The trail up starting up from the parking lot was treacherous with lot of icy runoff and snow. The rest of the trail had about a half-inch of snow and was slippery everywhere. Big Schloss summit was mostly snow covered and we were very careful about footing on the rocks. Lots of animal and large bird tracks in the snow - we guessed a fox and a grouse or a crow. Hiking out, we were met by several backpackers just heading up for the night... betting it was cold but really great, peaceful and quiet.

By: Rod Shepherd Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Been hiking Big Schloss since I was a teenager. Recover from the Easter Fire at the south end continues. FaceBook album of some post fire photos:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 1, 2012
This is a good "value" hike, as it's not very difficult but yields great views. The time estimate on this is way overboard, as the majority of the trail is almost level, which is great because it gives you more time to chill out at the summit. It was raining and damp, and I was the first one up the trail, so I only ran into other hikers on the way down, but I can see how this would be very frustrating with a lot of hikers and bikers to contend with. Overall a nice jaunt through the hills with some very nice views. I did notice a good deal of poison ivy along the trail, but it's usually wide enough that you don't even have to come close to it.

By: APPALACHIAN HIGHLANDER Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 18, 2012

By: JLJ Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Wolf Gap fire (starting on April 9, 2012) burned through the area but left it in good shape. Almost all living trees survived, as did almost all of the living understory. Dead and downed vegetation burned, but larger material was not fully consumed. New growth has emerged through the ash. The hike has actually been improved in a way as the aspects that make it great are still there, but now there is an interesting example of how fire interacts with the ecosystem. The Wolf Gap fire was one of six fires that burned in the Easter Complex incident. For updates, photos and maps see It apparently was caused by a camper dumping fire pit ashes and coals into the woods:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 5, 2012
I've hiked this multiple times over the years and it's always fun. Does anyone know if it's closed/blocked with the govt shutdown?

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 14, 2012
This was a phenomenal hike with beautiful views. We made it an overnight trip and stayed at the Wolf Gap Recreation Area. The temps were some of the coldest yet this year and we even had some unexpected snowfall during the hike. The temps dropped to 16 degrees overnight and the wind was rather blustery but I wouldn't have changed a thing. Gear worn on the trip was kept to a minimum with sweatshirt, jeans, and a stocking cap. Can't wait to hike it again in the Spring. See pics from the trip at

By: RD Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 26, 2011
Great hike, especially when combined with Tippet's knob.  Definitely some traffic on the trail, but not so much as to detract from the experience.  However, we apparently didn't get the memo about blaze orange, which about half the hikers were wearing.  After encountering a hunter carrying a rifle hiking down the trail on our way up, we began to worry a little, but didn't hear any shots while we were on the trail (11:30am - 2:30pm) (but we did later in the afternoon while hiking Tippet).  Getting the climb out of the way at the start was nice, and with the leaves off the trees the hike along the ridgeline provided lots of view opportunities.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 19, 2011
This is a nice hike to a great view.  The beginning is pretty steep until you climb to the ridge, but my kids didn't complain very much so it wasn't that bad.  Once on top of the ridge there is view after view.  It's really something to see.  The Big Schloss itself was crowded, but I don't mind that as I like to see people getting out and enjoying the mountains.  You can see pictures of the hike on my website WeHikedIt at

By: zygote2k Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 12, 2011
We decided to camp out here in hammocks. Got the prime spot just before the bridge and had a great time. Great moon, bright stars, toasty campfire. What more could you ask for?

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 30, 2011
What a great hike! The first leg climb is well worth the views! The walk along the ridge line is spectacular and the 6"  early snow yesterday made for a beautiful, crisp day. Blue sky and warm sun made this a memorable hike. Perhaps because of the snow we felt like we had the entire trail to ourselves. Only 2 other couples were on the trail. I  rate this 5 star for an enjoyable, lots to see, hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 17, 2011
We hiked Big Schloss & Tibbet Knob together. Both hikes took about 5 hours with lots of stoping for pictures. I am giving this a 4 star as both hikes but if I was only doing one hike at a time I am sure it would only be a 3 star. The Views were great the hand over hand hiking was ok on Tibbet Knob. We hiked this on a rainy day and still ran into lots of hikers and campers so solitude is like a 0. But overall a good hike great workout doing both hikes

By: John Applin Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 15, 2011
This was a great walk.  Clear skies and friendly hikers along the trail.  The first part of the trail is difficult if you're out of shape.  Once you're on the ridge though, it gets pretty easy to the escarpment. 
There are many reasons to enjoy this walk.  Views along the ridge and the escarpment are breathtaking.  The trail is dog friendly.  The uphill climb of the first third of the outward bound leg is tough but not overwhelming.  The reward is the eastward view at the top.  If it's legal, there are at least four good campsites along the trail (outside the camping area at the trail head).  Whomever maintains this trail does a first rate job.

By: HORNET WARNING! Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 8, 2011
This is a beautiful out and back hike. BUT, hiking up today with my dogs, we ran into a huge ground hornets nest just a short way into the trail. As you are headed up to the summit, the nest is on the left side of the trail, I believe to the west. It is right along the border of the trail, and the hornets are very aggressive! I left a small cairn before and after the nest, and would recommend bushwacking off to the east of the trail.

By: Scout Leader Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 20, 2011
This is one of the best hikes around!  The ascent is steep to start out with, but levels off on the ridge. The effort definately pays off with the views, which are absolutely AWESOME.  It took us about 3.5 hours round trip and I highly recommend this hike.

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 14, 2011
Today was a beautiful day to hike Big Schloss. The air was cool and clear, which made the views absolutely fantastic at the end. Typically you can do the whole hike in an hour and a half (no stopping). However, that is completely dictated by how well you do on the opening hill. It goes on for a while with no real break. Once past that the hike is really a 2 in difficulty. Great hike. One of my favorites.

By: Keith R Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I did this on an odd day (mid-day on a Tuesday,) so my experience was different than most here I would think.  There were a few people at the campground where the trailhead is, but otherwise I had the trail entirely to myself!  The first part is pretty darn steep with some switchbacks (and made me realize just how out of shape I've let myself get recently,) but after that it is a relaxing ridge hike and not very strenuous at all.  Be prepared to have a lot of gnats buzzing in your face and ears, but at least none of them were the biting sort.  Parts of the ridge are fairly narrow which gave the trail a neat feel, and of course the final view was fantastic.  The bridge was almost as impressive- it must have been some real work to get the supplies up there.

By: aepva Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 11, 2011
Nice day, got to the top by 1030 am & did the whole hike in about 3 hrs 15 minutes. Initial part of the trail is steep as advertised and there are parts there and along the ridge that are quite rocky. Not too many other folks seen on the way up but passed a number of people on the way down. Columbine and blueberries in bloom on the ridge mountain laurel still in bloom on the lower parts of the trail. Note: driving directions attached to the printable topo map are a bit misleading - DON'T take the first turnoff to 675, stay on 42 and take the very next right. Then you're where you need to be to take the left onto Wolf Gap Road.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 28, 2011
We hiked this trail the day after the tornados hit this area.  We passed a lot of damage on our way to the trail.  The trail was pretty muddy at the bottom, but dried out as we got higher.  Almost all of the elevation change is in the begining so it seems steeper than expected.  Then it levels out and runs along the ridge.  The path is pretty rocky so sturdy hiking shoes would be helpful.  The view from the top is fantastic.  There was a significant wind on the bridge the day we were there and my ball cap was sacrificed to the ravine.  It took us more time than predicted but we are an older group of hikers (54, 66, 67 and a 9 year old Golden Retriever!) and have learned to go at our own pace.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Did Big Schloss after camping Monday night at Wolf Gap Campground. The hike up is not too steep but definitely a workout after doing Tibbet Knob on Monday afternoon. The views from Big Schloss are great and the new 'bridge' at the top is incredible in how it was constructed there and the view from it. Crossing the bridge we had mid morning break on the rocks and marveled at the view...about 300 degrees. It was simply awesome to see and is a must for those who seek views while hiking. We continued the hike to Mill Mountain and return to Wolf Gap to make it a full day hike. There are many viewpoints along the ridge with the lack of folage this early in the season. Great day and not as hot as Monday on Tibbet Knob. We had some rain on Monday night but the campsites at Wolf Gap drain very well and water was not a problem for out tents. The water pump at the campground is an old hand pump and the water was not clear from it so we were happy to have brought bottled water from home. The only downside was a turkey hunter doing his pre sunrise calling about 10 yards from the edge of the campground. A great place for camping and hiking as access to many other trails and possibilities of loop hikes exist.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 22, 2010
My boyfriend and I decided to hike this trail on 08/22/10. It was nice exercise and the views from the overlook were lovely. There was not a lot of solitude on this trail. The campsites were nice and we found wood for a small fire. Most importantly I wanted to mention on the second day right after the overlook my boyfriend was hiking in front of me by about 15 feet. I happen to look down at my feet and lying parallel to my right legs was 2 copperheads mating. I quietly kept moving a couple more steps and then alerted my partner. These little guys were in the middle of the trail so be aware.

By: John V. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 26, 2010
Hiked Big Schloss on 6/26 - 6/27 with our Boy Scout crew preparing for Philmont.   We continued on the Mill Mountain Trail for 2 miles, camped at Sandstone Spring Saturday night and had the area to ourselves.  The campsite was fine for our group of 8.  Water was available at the spring even with the recent dry weather.  Saw very few people on the trail probably due to the heat in the DC area.   The trails are very well marked and easy to follow.  The first 3/4 of a mile from Wolf Gap Recreation area up to the ridge is a good workout especially with a full pack.   Saw several piles of bear scat, digging and other evidence, but no bears.   The water from the pump at Wolf Gap looked like tea even after pumping for quite a while.    Planning to do this one as a day hike with my family in the fall. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 12, 2010
This hike was spectacular.  It offers nearly 360 degrees of views in Virginia and West Virginia, and in protected forests no less.  In addition, the hike itself is not too bad, once you get past the first stretch, and the walk along the ridgeline is terrific in June - lots of butterflies, wild flowers, and beautiful smells in the air.  If you had the patience, you could easily stitch together a nearly 360 degree picture of the surrounding vistas, which is hard to find in VA/WV, or anywhere else for that matter.  In my estimation, this hike easily rivals Strickler's Knob for views, and should probably be rated a 6 rather than a 5.  A terrific hike!

By: Pete (again) Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I go on this hike frequently after work during the late winter and early spring. Yesterday I went on the hike and I knew it was breezy, but it was a full blown blow once you got out on the rocks. When I sat down, the wind was so strong that you could feel the rock shaking underneath you. This hike is a wonderful one to go on late in a weekday afternoon. It's relatively short (4 miles or so) and you can complete it and still enjoy the really good views in about an hour and a half. I've hiked this 15 times now with my dog and I have seen only one other pair of people on it.

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 22, 2010
I went on this hike yesterday after the snow and ice event the previous night. No one was around. The hike is really easy once you get up on the ridge. Big schloss in the snow and ice was really incredible. This hike is worth the trouble after it snows...

By: Greg Thompson Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 1, 2010
Man, What a awesome hike.  It was a little on the chilly side but it was well worth the view.  There was snow everywhere but it didnt seem to slow me down or make it to bad.  Once I got to the ridge line headed toward the overlook, it was great.  The wind was a little rought and the rocks a little more icier than I would have liked, but it was a great hike.  Everyone should try it.  I bet you would like it.

By: Austen Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 7, 2009
I hiked both Big Schloss and Tibbet Knob with a buddy this past weekend. Both hikes are fairly short with fantastic views. We began Big Schloss at 9am and encountered only two other hikers on the summit. On our way down we passed at least 2 dozen folks, so hitting the trail early is a good idea. Thank you Hiking Upward for making us aware of such great trails!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Hiked both Tibbets Knob and Big Schloss today with my son.  Both trails are very well marked and easy to follow.  Awesome panoramic views on both trails.  Lots of leaves + lots of rocks = really sore ankles.

By: Jessica Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 9, 2009

We did this hike on a Sunday starting out at 9:00 AM after camping in Wolf Gap campground.  We had the entire trail to ourselves and the views from the top were a real treat.  For you backpackers, there is a nice, small camp site right near the top with a great view.   Also, another larger one on the left near the top.  My dog had a very close encounter with a skunk along the way -- we are still dealing with that stench.  Other than that, it was a great way to escape the city heat.

By: Steve J Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 2, 2009
If you're looking for a shorter, less-crowded alternative to Old Rag that's still close to the DC area, this is a good option. It was fairly hot the day we went -- 90 degrees at the base elevations -- but still bearable on the mountain. The first portion is a little strenuous but only lasts for .75 miles or so, and it's extremely easy after that. You're rewarded with a fantastic view from the rock-lined top -- one that I believe is better than Old Rag. Even though it was a Saturday, there were only 2 other people at the top when we were there (perhaps because of the heat).

If you have the time and energy, I'd recommend combining it with Tibbet Knob as the review recommends. If you're interested in camping, Wolf Gap has good sites for car camping. You could also backpack in and camp at Sandstone Spring, which is another 2.7 miles past Big Schloss, for a nearly 10 mile round trip hike (or go another mile to the great sites at Mill Mountain).

One other note: I had a very close encounter with a Timber Rattler on the top -- on the rock ledge at the highest portion of the peak (accessed by climbing up to the immediate right after the wooden bridge). No reason for alarm (they are not aggressive), just be careful in the shaded areas (where this one was hidden) or the cracks. As the previous reviewer said, the trails are somewhat overgrown in parts, which made for a slightly jittery hike back after seeing the rattler. Despite this, it was still a great hike worth doing again.

By: Alec Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Mid July had something I had never seen before. Lots of grass. The worn path was about a foot wide in parts and I had the fear of snakes ebbing in the back of my head the entire way. 3 other friends of mine and I departed at about 10:30 and had made the top at a little after 11:30 (none of us physically unfit). We had the entire Schloss to ourselves for an hour and a half, which was amazing, being able to crawl around and explore, and yell to friends without worry of weird looks or inhibiting someone else's experience. At about 1 o'clock a tour group lead by 4 guides arrived with 30+ guests. We took our leave.
Beautiful hike with lots to explore, if you can go on a day without tours.

By: Zack, Ant, Logan, and Stephen Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 11, 2009

Would you not like to be, sitting on top of the world with your legs hanging free?

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 9, 2009
Extremely nice hike, other than the amount of people (25-30) the scenery was great. Have yet to try the tibet knob hike but sure to happen in the future! P.S. the spring on Wolf Gap rd is AMAZING water to drink!!

By: VA Family Hikers Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 7, 2009
Great hike! With no leaves on the trees, there are views all along the ridge line portion of the trail. Four hours is extremely generous for the hike time. Our group of 4 adults, 5 elementary-aged kids, and a dog took 3.5 hours round trip - including time to enjoy the views, take photos, and find a letterbox and a geocache.

By: Jessica Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 31, 2008
This is a great hike!  The best part is the end where you are treating to panoramic views of the surrounding area.  Great spot for a long lunch.  We did this just after setting up camp at Wolf Gap, followed by Little Schloss on day 2. 

By: Jeff and Dana L. Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 26, 2008
Great day trip from DC/Northern Virginia. The views from the top are fabulous! We hike in the Shenandoah NP often so it was nice to see a different area.  Best of all, no entrance fee! :-)

By: Robert Godlove Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 4, 2008
Very Nice, Had a good day...nice weather, clear skies, The First leg of the Hike from Wolfs Gap is about 1/3 mile leg burner and then it caps out and has great east/west views, The trail was in good shape the views are killer, ran into about 8-10 people total in and out...some were out of gas on the side of the trail. Seen a nice big and fat Black Rat snake laying in a dead tree (6ft.)

By: Brad Z Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 28, 2007
We really enjoyed this hike...a great 4 mile leg stretcher with fantastic views both west and east.  After the steep first 1/4 mile or so the trail levels out for a relaxing ridgeline hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great day hike, w/ views and trail as advertised.  One drawback: it was a bit crowded, detracting slightly from the overall effect.

One comment on directions:  bridge referenced in driving directions is closed.  If travelling from the East (from 1-81) turn R on Union Church Rd. and follow signs for Wolf Gap.  You'll promptly see the closed bridge and be on rte. 675 which is well marked all the way to the campground.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 26, 2007
Made a great decision to hike the Big Schloss hike on a weekday (Thursday) and it paid big dividends.  Didn't run across another hiker on the whole trip, just a couple of campers at Wolf Gap.  Very nice hike with the steep portion (more dangerous on the return downhill IMHO) out of the way in the beginning, then nice fairly level ridge hike along Mill Mtn Trail then a short steep leg up to the summit.  Views are excellent as advertised.  However, there isn't much room for error on top and I would hesitate to bring small children (for excellent safer views I might take kids up to Hawskbill or Stony Man summit).  Had a nice lunch alone at the top then headed back.  Finished entire route in 2.5 hours.  A couple of pieces of trash and campsites along the trail, but the trash was minimal and the campsites clean and litter free.  One downside was lack of wildlife sitings - not even a whitetail.  But a highly recommended day hike.

By: Whitey Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 27, 2007

Getting There:
Leaving at 6am traveling from Oakton VA on RT66 to 81, we arrived at the trail head in just about 2 hours time and had no problems with the directions.

The Hike:
The start of the trail, up to the ridge, is very well worn and is wide enough to accommodate side by side hiking.  Several switchbacks and a few deep breaths and you're at the ridgeline which opens up with a decent view into the surrounding valley.  Follow a grassy shaded path along the ridge (1.9 miles) until you see the split (wooden sign) signaling you have a quarter mile to go.  A quick jaunt further and you'll have great 360 degree views of the surroundings.  Great views and worth a hike.

The Cons:
The trail is obviously well traveled.  Several points along the way were remnants of open fires, plastic lunch bags, and empty plastic bottles which were very frustrating to see.  Also due to the traffic, my recc would be to either start early or pick a day with less than ideal conditions so you get the trail to yourself.  Overall though, a great hike.

By: Quanta Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 10, 2007
At last!  I have been obsessed with getting on this trail in winter. Saturday was ideal : crisp, clear, cold and windy.  About 2-4 inches of snow covered the trail and mountain top.  Perfect photo conditions.  Bliss!  Saw quite a few folks, including campers at the Wolf Gap campground. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 3, 2007
I hiked this trail with Snappers for the first time. Big Schloss is absolutely one of the best hikes you can take if you want a hike that is not to difficult and doesn’t take a long amount of time to complete. We parked in the parking area at Wolf Gap and proceeded around the circle to campsite #9 which is the double orange trail head. The first mile of the hike is the hardest part. You climb the orange trail up some pretty steep inclines to the top of the ridge and the Mill Mountain trail. When you reach the ridge line you will see the Mill Mountain trial veering to the left. Before continuing to the left along the ridge line make sure you walk about 100 yards to the right and check out the views there as well, they are pretty good. Then continue along the MillMountain trail for about 2 miles. The 2 miles along the ridge is packed with awesome views of Woodstock and the surrounding area. You will not get a better view on any of the other hikes in the GWNF. You arrive at a sign that is clearly marked Big Schloss Mountain trail and continue to your right for about a ¼ mile up a pretty steep incline to the summit of Big Schloss Mountain. The views are the best in the but use caution because a slip would be very unforgiving. Then simply follow the trail back the way you came. Over all this is the best short hike in the GWNF and took less than 3 hours.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
My father and I decided to take advantage of this mild, crisp Virginia December day to play hooky and head out to the GW Nat'l Forest to hike Big Schloss. We had heard about it in years past, but neither could recall if we had done it or what it was all about, so we set out to explore. After a breif re-energizing stop a service station in Columbia Furnace, VA, heart of Shenandoah County (approx. 95 miles from Arlington, VA), we winded on the side roads to the Wolf Gap Recreation Area. At camping lot #9 you find the trail head, marked with double-blazed orange, and you begin to ascend, with sufficient, but limited switchbacks. The weather yesterday was about 40 degrees F, average, and we thought this was a perfect time to be outdoors, as long as you have thermals, a windbreaker, and gloves/scarf for when the wind picks up on the ridgeline. The Mill Mountain trail, which you take upwwards to a ridgeline and then follow to connect to the Big Schloss Trail off-shoot, is a lovely wind through the deciduous and evergreen flora, is extremelly well marked, and is immaculately taken care of.  You begin to see expansive views of the valleys below when you get up to the ridgeline (1.0 miles along or so). The Big Schloss off-shoot is easy to navigate and has the expected shorter trees and increasing size rocks as you ascend to the pretty summit at the top. The pictures on the bottom of this page, with the wooden bridge near the Schloss end point, are a great illustration of how fun this final leg is. When you get to the top of Schloss, you have a pretty good 300 degree panorama.  You see two large valleys on either side, one on the West Virginia side and the other on the Virginia side-- we noticed the contrast in small development and preservation of nature: the VA side is as untouched in the valley, sans a fire road, as it probably was when it was first marked for National Forest land one hundred years ago. The West VA valley side had some lots carved out for local farming and small farm industry as well. The whole trip, from Wolf Gap Recreation Area to the Schloss Summitt (4 miles round-trip), took us about 2 1/2 hours, and we were hiking at a moderate pace, with a 1/2 stop for a crisp and chilly lunch at the summit. Bring your binoculars and a camera! This is a great, simple hike with spectactular views.

By: Alexandria Poky-Boy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 18, 2006
Last Saturday my friend (formerly, Tater-Girl; but now Thin-Girl) and I walked the 2 miles to Big Schloss peak.  After we parked at the trail head, we learned that it was the first day of VA hunting season, and that we should have brought orange hats.  (WV hunting season began the next day, 11/19/06.)  During the 4 hour walk, we must have seen about 22 people (two of which were wisely wearing orange vests) and two dogs along the trail  Thus, it's clearly a popular hike for a Saturday morning/afternoon.  We did hear gun shots in the "far-off" distance due to the hunting season.  The leaves were all down, which added to the scenery, as we had more long distance views than if the leaves were out and in the way.  There was one spot just 15 feet from the very end of the trail that we thought a bit dangerous, as we had to step over a crevice; so anyone hiking with youngsters should absolutely not let them lead the trail when approaching the end!  That crevice even seemed to be a bit dangerous for a dog too.  After the hike and from the parking lot, we drove west into WV on Trout Run Rd, and after driving only 2 or 3 miles from the parking lot, were able to look to the east (i.e. the right) and see the Big Schoss peak.  The peak really stood out, and we thought it was neat to see what the peak that we hiked up to.  This was my friend's last hike as Tater-Girl, as she has lost 60 pounds in the last 12 months.  Using HIKINGUPWARD as a guide, we look forward to more hiking.

By: shirlenne Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 14, 2006
I really enjoyed this one... The hike is not too difficult and probably takes less than 4 hours for most people.  The first half mile is the only significant elevation you have to tackle, so once you get past that, it's basically just a nice walk.  There are a few more small rolling hills, but nothing major.  The views on top are great, so we lingered for quite awhile after having lunch.  It's great to go during the fall, because the neighboring mountains look gorgeous with all the different colored leaves.  You get a great panoramic view once you get to the very top, so it's very much worth the trip!

By: B. Gordon Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 10, 2006
What a great hike, temperature was in the 70's!! I was looking for a relatively easy hike for my 8 year old daughter and 12 year old nephew who had never hiked before. The views were so good at the top that we stayed for 2 hours soaking it in and having lunch. The first 3/4 mile up gets the heart going but once on top of Mill Mtn Trail, the going is much easier.  I would have to say the views rival those of Old Rag.  We also did the Tibbet Knob Trail the following day, also a great hike, and relatively short.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 3, 2005
I had a great time!I had a great veiw from the rock!I think EVERYone should go there!My sister got up easily,and she is only 3!I am 8.It took 2 hours.It was very cold! (Notes from Dad: We stayed at Wolfgap campground, the only campers on an extremely windly 15 degree night. It never got above 30 hike day but the kids did great. The first mile is the toughest but was over before they knew what was happening and the rest is a easy walk. We'll be back to camp on the ridge next time. Excellent hike. Thanks for the information on the site. All 100% accurate).

By: ALEXANDRIA-HIKER-MAY Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2005
My Brother and I completed this hike exactly as shown during mid-morning on Saturday. The hike up the hill was rocky, and seemed wide enough to be a road, so there was no mistaking the trail. There were very pleasant views along the way up the trail, but the view from Big Schloss was tremendous. Big Schloss is really allot of huge rocks at the end of a hill (only 30 yards from the wooden bridge shown in the photos on this site), permitting for a 270 degree view from an elevated position from which to watch birds soaring below. During our 3 1/2 hour hike, we saw 3 other groups of hikers (totalling 11 people), so it's not too barren. However, we did see a rattle snake in the middle of the trail, so it's best to keep your eyes on the trail. I would not bring a dog on the trail to Big Schloss, as I'd be concerned that he would accidentally get too close to an edge. The difficulty level really is a 2, and the views really are a 5, so you get a big return for a nominal effort. You must definitely tackle this trail.

By: CajunClimber Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 4, 2005
If you follow the route in PATC Circuit Hikes in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, you'll end up with an intense 12.5 mile hike from near Big Schloss up towards Sugar Knob, then back down to Big Schloss. The views are fantastic and different all four seasons; this winter the approach up to Big Schloss was a lot of fun with snow up to knee-deep. Bring a headlamp, get there around sunset, enjoy the view from the top and then hike down in the dark. Highly recommeded.

By: Jeffrey Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 1, 1994
I took my wife on her first backpacking trip ever on the loop described in the Circuit Hikes book. We did it in reverse order, charging up to Big Schloss first for lunch, then camping at the spring and coming past the Sugar Knob cabin the next day. Everything people say about the area, and Big Schloss in particular, is true. Terrific views, very nice hiking!

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