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Hiker Comments for the Halfmoon Mountain Hike - 1 to 56 of 56   
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By: Dan J. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 25, 2019
I did the shorter 6.5 mile out-and-back hike via the yellow-blazed Halfmoon Mountain Trail up to the ridge. The total altitude gain for this hike is a little over 1200 feet, and I would rate it a 3 for difficulty. This is a pleasant trek through the woods up to the overlooks. There are no real navigational issues on this variant. I would note that the 2nd overlook is the best, so you will definitely be rewarded for the short walk on the faint trail beyond the saddle campsite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 24, 2019
I hiked up from Little Stony Creek trailhead this added a few more miles but was a much gentler climb with a ~30-pound pack. It's about 7.5 miles and I arrived at the summit in 3 hrs and 50 mins. Take the yellow Little Stony Creek trail up ~4 miles, past Sugar Knob Cabin turn left on blue Tuscarora Trail for 2 miles then stay straight on yellow Halfmoon Trail (there is a sign) for 0.7 mile then stay straight on white Halfmoon Lookout Trail for 0.8 mile to the summit.

I camped at the large site down the side trail just below the summit. Gorgeous spot! I hiked up on a Friday and did not see one other person the entire time on the trail or the summit. It was so lovely to watch the sunset from the second overlook in solitude.

I originally planned to loop back to the Little Stony Creek parking lot via Mill Mountain and Big Schloss however, the whip-poor-will clan at the campsite kept me up most of the night. Not a complaint they were just doing their thing! But feeling extra groggy, I just went back the way I came. I saw 10 hikers (all overnighters) and 1 mountain biker coming up Little Stony Creek trail, so it does get popular on the weekends, of course.

I did see one rattlesnake basking in the sunshine right on Little Stony Creek trail, so look out for them everywhere (lots of notes below report rattlers on the summit, but I didn't see any there.) Felt bad going off trail to get around it, but it was not going to give up that spot in the sun.

Mountain laurels just starting to pop in some spots, so this area will be gorgeous in another week or so!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 20, 2019
I hiked this counter-clockwise and was glad to do it that way. The first half of the hike including the spectacular overlook ranked 5 stars. This is an amazing overlook! Taking the German Wilson and then the Bucktail Trail brought the overall hike down to 3 stars. The Bucktail was a swamp in late April - I probably would have turned around if I started on that trail. I think I will explore other routes to the top in the future.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 17, 2019
A friend and I did this hike as a day hike in the direction specified here. The scenery is less than spectacular for most of the hike at lower elevations. The climb up German Wilson is tough, but short. The reason for the 3 star rating lies in the tedious nature of the Bucktail Cutoff trail, which winds for 3 miles up and down.

I think it would be a better choice to do this as an overnight hike, camping at one of the many high elevation spots. The sunset view from Halfmoon peak is awesome. There are plenty of large sites along the ridge crest, along with a great site below the peak of Halfmoon.

I would suggest if you wanted to do a day hike to take in Halfmoon that you start at the Halfmoon parking and come up the west side of the mountain, avoiding both the Bucktail cutoff and German Wilson trails. You will get the prize with a lot less effort.

By: Brad Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2018
Great hike! We did the trail just as it's laid out here and I'm glad we followed the trail as written on the website. We did it as an overnight and the German Wilson trail section was quite taxing, but it rained the second day and would have been treacherous trying to go down the steep incline with our packs. Following the Halfmoon trail on the way out made it much easier.

We snagged the campsite at the top of the mountain, just around to the right of the fire tower, which made for great views. Another hiker came a little behind us and knew of another campsite just to the right of the rocky outcrop lookout point. For a larger group, I'd recommend the large campsite below the fire tower or the one at the intersection of the Halfmoon and Bucktail trails. The two campsites at the intersection of yellow and white trails are fairly large as well, but don't have water or a very good view.

The trail was wet and muddy pretty much the whole time, especially with the numerous river crossings, so definitely bring a change of shoes and socks.

By: WT Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 10, 2018
Was a nice overnight backpack. Started around 10:30 a.m made it to the summit around 2. No water so make sure you pack it in! Lots of wildlife! Several deer, a bear, and a timber rattler. I will not do this hike in the summer due to the snakes. Several local horseback riders warned me of a snake den at the top. Never saw more than one, however the one I did see was inches from the trail, and my ankle. I was unnerved to say the least.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 2, 2018
We hiked this as an overnight (but would be easily feasible as a day hike.) The area has received considerable amounts of rain and so the trail was WET. Saturday the trail was wet, stream crossings were possible but we all had wet feet (rocks set up for crossings were covered with water.) Sunday the trails were running streams, and the streams were flood stage. Some of the campsites located along streams and in the low-lying areas were flooded. Beautiful trail, the mountain laurels were blooming, we'd love to come back during drier conditions.

By: Jen M Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 25, 2018
Hiked this Friday-Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The lookout was amazing, and the mountain laurel were starting to bloom, so this hike got an A+ for having those two incredible moments. Hiked it clockwise as directed.

Difficulty: We've had a lot of rain lately but only one crossing required boots-off instead of careful rock hopping, and that should get better... the mud wasn't too bad. The uphill on German Wilson trail was a bit taxing, especially since so much of it is rocky (dry) creek bed. Note that we almost missed a hard left while going up.. keep your eyes peeled as it would definitely suck to have climbed higher on that than necessary. We also missed the last turn to loop back to the proper parking area and ended up at the lower area and had to take the road back to the car. I realize now I just read the directions wrong, but read that last part carefully.

Solitude: It was a holiday weekend and we saw only 1 other person... perfect

Views: With the mountain laurel in bloom, the corridor of it is breathtaking. Plus Halfmoon lookout is just gorgeous! The rest is some varied scenery and streams, but not the vista-after-vista of some other hikes in the area.

Other: Bugs were 'meh' (granted we didn't have bug spray on)... no biting flies but lots of annoying ones. The dogs were covered in ticks but we only found 2 on ourselves (but we hiked in pants). We did see a snake practically on the trail on the Halfmoon section, so definitely keep an eye out for that.

By: J&C Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 30, 2018
SIGHTS: The hike was lovely, and very relaxing. The halfmoon overlook was very nice and we got a very good view since most of the foliage was down. DIFFICULTIY: This was a fairly easy and relaxing hike myself and my boyfriend did it as a overnight trip. We hiked it in reverse order and I would definitely recommend to do it that way. In reverse you go on Bucktail (pink) and do a lot of uphill then get to the halfmoon lookout trail. The rest of the way on Bucktail (orange) is downhill and but not super steep this way you get the easy hike the next day. There are some rocky patches on Bucktail orange but nothing too difficult should be fine for older folk or even very young children. Do not recommend going after a excessive rain, the Bucktail orange trail follows a stream and the stream was overflowing in some areas. The trail was completely underwater for approximately 100 feet or so. It is not a big deal if you don't mind getting wet but it can get slippery. CAMPING: There are several camp areas on the half moon trail. We camped up on the halfmoon lookout itself and that was very very nice. Note that if you do this during the winter it is VERY windy up there it was 30F overnight when we camped but with wind chill it sure felt colder. Wildlife: We did not encounter any large mammals on our hike. But we did get to see some birds and other small critters. SOLITUDE: We saw one group of hikers when we were setting camp they appeared to be day-hikers. On our last mile before getting to the car on the following day we saw a couple backpacking in. This seems like a fairly quiet hiking area. WILDLIFE: We saw a few human tracks but did not encounter as many people as we expected likely this place gets some local day-hikers regularly. SUMMARY: Recommended hike of anyone who wants an easy relaxing walk in the forest. Specially good for beginners, older folk, or people with children

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 16, 2017
Did this as an overnight with my brother. Easy to find, great and plentiful parking. We did the route counter clockwise, primarily due to fears that there would be no camping sites closer to the parking at the end of the route if we did this the normal way. Our fears were justified as there was zero camping availability until the yellow and pink trail intersection. The summit was incredible, great views all around and not a horribly hard climb the way we went (we had 40 lb packs so it was a bit difficult). Water is also a concern on that end of the hike. The other side by the bridge has plenty of water and camping. We only saw one person all day, a bear hunter waiting at a crossing fire road for his dogs to come back. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and cold. It got down to 23 degrees when the sun set. The trail is very smooth, only one rocky section on the German Wilson trail. Also my GPS topped it out at 11.15, I think this is a little over 10.6. Would definitely do it again, one of the better 10+ mile circuits in the GW in my opinion.

By: Hobo Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 2, 2017
Sounds of Nature/Pink Trails/Gun Shots. Worth the 1hr and 40mins drive.

I said "Directions to Bucktail parking West Virginia" and it worked perfectly. Parking is marked by a brown “Bucktail Trail” sign off Trout Run rd. The parking is good/no fee. Parking is off to the side of a gravel loop road that can hold about 30 cars. The first part of hike was total silence with just bird and squirrel sounds. I hiked the forestry road to the pink trail which goes up a gorge and crosses over some streams. I was able to cross on rocks without getting my feet wet. The pink trail then gets steep near the overlook. You’ll feel the burn but nothing that requires the use of hands. The overlook view is spectacular and includes Big Schloss. In fact you can follow the orange trail by the overlook a couple of miles to Big Schloss. There are many hiking trails connected up in that area (take a picture of trail map at the trailhead.) Also plenty of camp sites with water/streams. As I followed the pink trail back to the parking lot I heard LOUD black powder gun shots near the trail. I switched over to my fluorescent yellow shirt to be safe. I think the shots were from a small house\cabin in the woods. To be safe I increased my speed and made lots of noise even banged a stick against a tree. Somebody blew a whistle at one point. I returned to my car to find more cars. I only saw two groups of 4 backpackers the entire day. Nobody at any campsites. I imagine because it was 30 degrees in the evenings. I have a video of the hike here - The video is quick snippets of the trails including the overlook.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 26, 2017
Did this as a solo overnighter, but since I got to the trailhead late in the day (1:30pm), I decided to hike this counter-clockwise in order to get to the summit and get camp set up before dark. If you are doing this in reverse, I should let you know I only came across ONE water source before the summit (this was about 2 miles in on the Bucktail Cutoff Trail). I made the mistake of not filling up a 2L flat Nalgene sleeve and had to conserve water greatly for the remainder of the hike and the remainder of the night/morning. I thought the start of this hike in this direction was quite interesting, not too much elevation gain, but enough to keep your mind in the right place. I should also note, the trail is covered in leaves, which should be expected as they are all mostly fallen, but with the trail being rocky, do mind your footing. There are at least two campsites at the junction of Bucktail Cutoff and the Halfmoon trail. Once you start getting towards the end of the Halfmoon trail, you can look to your left, and see the Halfmoon Lookout area, and it is quite exciting knowing that is where you are heading. The campsite before the summit, on a small trail to the left, is GIGANTIC, a fantastic option if you do not find space to set up at the summit. I got to the abandoned fire tower, and immediately noticed there was space right next to it for my 1P tent, away from the fire circle, but 10 feet from the rock outcrop. Absolutely perfect. I set up and then went further down the trail to the next overlook, do not skip this. There are a few more spots to camp, but they are very close to the trail. I would say the summit is the best area to camp if you are good with rationing your water. Broke camp at 8:30am with the goal to get back to the car at noon, but going downhill on the German Wilson Trail proved to be slow going, as the descent as pretty intense at times, coupled with the amount of leaves on the ground. I should note, if going in this direction, you'll get to the intersection of the German Wilson Trail and the fire/mine road. Looking at the map, I thought this was my left turn onto Bucktail Trail. After a 10 minute walk down the road/trail, it dawned on me that I saw a pink blaze to the right at the junction and headed back. A bit confusing, but it worked out fine. Your first water source from the summit is on the German Wilson trail after the intersection with the fire/mining road. Once you are on this area of the German Wilson Trail, it is more like a wide fire road, until you get to the Bucktail Trail. The stream crossings on this are great, easy rock hopping and great water sources, and saw a few campsites as well. After the junction of the Cacpon Trail, the rest of Bucktail trail is mostly fire road, and pretty boring, heading in this direction. Nice views of Rocky Ridge to the right, and if you turn around you see the great views of the ridges behind you.

The only wildlife I saw were some small birds and chipmunks, and a doe. I didn't see another person from the start of the trip until the last hour of my hike, and they were on horseback. I had the entire mountain to myself, can't complain! Overall I would do this again, that lookout area is great. I would never do this in the summer or when foliage is at it's greenest, the views you get from the adjacent ridges makes this a must do early spring / late fall for me.

By: Keith Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 22, 2017
Solo day hike the loop, follow direction to the dots. orange blade is flat and boooring (I like some elevation). purple(more pink than purple) blazed German Wilson Trail has some elevation but nothing too strenuous. reach the overlook and had the whole (both) overlook to myself. complete the loop with more flat and downhill on pink trail. third gullies has the most elevation down then up. not sure how it is 5 for view? 4 for difficulty if you have a 50lb pack.

By: Jamey Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 4, 2017
I did the shorter version. While it was a nice hike, it was nothing special. The view from the overlook was very good but not spectacular. The woods are pretty, the trail is easy, I only crossed paths with a pair of hikers, and I saw a lizard, which was the highlight. Nice but ultimately nothing special.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 26, 2017
Did as overnight backpack - overall, very nice hike, varied terrain after first bit on the fire road. As others have noted, German Wilson trail is indeed steep nothing else is too bad on the rest of the hike. Don't miss the second overlook at the summitt - outstanding views. Had planned to camp at the sadle site, but it is small - only bit of level ground for a tent is right next to the fire pit. Site just below is very nice, however. Had the moutain to myself the first day (and, I assume, night), saw three hikers on the way out.

By: Lisa Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 3, 2017
My husband, dog and I did this hike as a 2-day backpack and it was a wonderful outing. We had no problems following the trail using the description provided. The climb up the German Wilson trail was a workout especially with a full pack and is very steep in the upper portion. At the junction with the overlook trail we encountered a timber rattlesnake, who luckily warned us of his presence. We enjoyed lunch at the second overlook but continued to the campsite at the junction with the Bucktail Cutoff Trail, to avoid any more close encounters. We enjoyed the variety of terrain and the beautiful mountain laurel in full bloom. Taking note of others comments, we treated out clothes/gear with permethrin and had no issues with ticks. Water was plentiful in the lower sections. We saw 3 groups of hikers, a group of equestrians and a single mountain biker on the way up the mountain but no one else until the next day. On day 2 we met a group of older folks ascending the Cutoff trail. We are in our 50's if that gives any indication. Much thanks for the terrific trail info!

By: nort Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 29, 2017
I did this hike with my 11 year old son exactly as it is outlined here, starting on Memorial Day. There were 3 or 4 horse trailers in the parking lot, along with 5 or 6 cars. We did this as an overnight thinking we'd see a few people Monday but have the summit to ourselves that night. As it turned out we didn't see anyone on Monday and only saw 2 other hikers on Tuesday. The trails were very wet and muddy since it had been raining so much, and we spent considerable time going around wet and muddy sections of trail. The streams were all full and crossing them wasn't difficult, but I'm sure it took more time than it normally would. The German Wilson trail is as tough as advertised--it's quite strenuous indeed--but the rest of this hike is really nice and easy. We camped at the saddle campsite, but the lower site is better. We didn't camp there because we saw 3 rattle snakes on the rocky outcropping right there behind the campsite. Two never moved and the other one decided to come closer and stretch out on the rock below us so that we could get a really close look. It was pretty cool. In fact, we saw 7 snakes total, including a large black snake near the summit. The trip back down was very easy and only took about 2 hours, maybe 2:30 total. I would have hiked over to Sugar Knob before going back down the Bucktail Cutoff trail if I had known how quick the return was. All in all a great hike, but watch your step on those rocks.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 24, 2017
Wow! We did an overnight backpack trip here, following Hiking Upward's route exactly. Didn't see anyone for two days and camped up at the top. This was the trail my wife broke her arm on in September (we had to abort then and self-rescue, driver to ER in Winchester, and thousands of dollars were spent on hospital bills). A titanium plate now holds her bones together. I mention this because our successful completion of this hike was an achievement for her in overcoming that fear and getting back out on the trail. The hike was a victory for her and for us because we didn't let the trail beat us. When failure occurs, it's important to learn from it and get back out there...And once we got past the "Bone Crushing" tree at mile 2.8 we had the rest of the trail to explore with fresh eyes and spirits. We love that this is a circuit hike with a big payoff at the top. The German-Wilson portion of this hike is intense. Very steep. We camped at the large site right below the summit. The saddle camp at the summit was open but it was just too windy for our liking. Great trip, great night. One note on the Hiking Upward directions - at mile 6.2 it says to turn at the German Wilson trail. This is actually the Halfmoon Mountain trail. Be careful down by the river area. Don't let the big tree across the trail get you. Oh, and take plenty of water to the top if you camp up there. Last chance for water is at mile 3.3. We have a full video on our trip, including showing how the accident happened. Check out our video on YouTube at our channel called Ott Mountain. We also have photos on that video of our failed attempt last year with "bone breaking" results. Thanks to Hiking Upward for the great trail data. Big help.

By: Ratman Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 10, 2017
I just did this as an overnight and it was beautiful. I camped down by halfmoon run because the wind at the summit was pretty strong. A beautiful full moon and 19 degrees made for a relaxing winter evening. I will definitely do this again in the spring.

By: JB Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Great hike. Just did this with a group of six. Trails are in great shape, however, markings are fading. You must pay close attention. Plan on carrying your water during this hike. The only water was at the stream Mile 2.5. The Buckhead site has a stream but it is dry. Definitely recommend this hike to anyone looking for a great overnight trip.

By: Mike Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 23, 2016
Hiked on a Sunday with great weather and still saw only a few other groups. This is a fairly easy hike, with the notable exception of mile 4.3 - 5.8. You'll want to bring supportive shoes and trekking poles. The blazes are also difficult to see in some spots, particularly the purple-blazed trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 23, 2016
The trailhead on Trout Run Rd was easy to find, something that you should not take for granted on a lot of hikes. We made the circuit just as it is described here. The trails are sometimes not well marked on this hike and you should have your wits about you. You can't get lost here because you are bounded by creeks to the north and south, Mill Mountain to the east, and Trout Run to the west, but you can get disoriented especially in the deep leaves with faint to almost non-existent blazes in places.

We missed the intersection of the pink-blazed Bucktail Cutoff Trail with the orange-blazed Bucktail Trail (which is a fire road at this point). It didn't matter as we were not turning but it was a good reminder to keep our eyes open. I generally dislike walking fire road, but this wasn't bad. We finally left it just before reaching Halfmoon Run and turning east up the hill along that creek. At many points, it was not clear where the trail was, but it hardly matters as you are following the creek up the hill.

Once you hang a right off the orange-blazed trail onto the purple- (lavender- really) blazed wide forest road/German Wilson trail, you must pay attention. I don't think the directions above stress that enough. In a couple of tenths, you are leaving the forest road and turning left up the fairly steep purple-blazed single-track German Wilson trail. If I were not scanning the trailside for photography opportunities, I would have missed the little trail marker up in the bushes 10-15 yards off the road to the left. As you follow the German Wilson trail, it will come to a gully/dry creek bed between two hills and you are going to make a steep climb up the creek bed. Blazes here are few and far between and often exceedingly faint, but you just keeping climbing up until you reach the saddle and the intersection with the white-blazed summit trail. As you turn right on the summit trail, it really becomes a sweet hike as you ascend, with increasingly better and better views of Mill Mountain, Big Schloss, and Tibbet Knob on the other side of Wolf Gap. There's a great rock outcrop at the top just below the ruins of an old tower, but even better rocks if you keep pushing another few yards through a swale/campsite and up and over the top. This affords great views to the south down Trout Run Valley and to the west out into West Virginia. I like the views from here better than just across the way on Mill Mountain or Big Schloss: they are spectacular and well worth the visit. From here, it's downhill pretty much all the way back to the parking lot. You should keep your eyes open near the intersection of the yellow and pink trails: it may not be obvious where the pink trail leaves the yellow trail. Stay on the north (right-hand) side of the creek. Just as your natural inclination is to cross the creek on the yellow-blazed trail, the pink trail takes off on the right bank, but we didn't find a blaze until about 75 yards down that trail, so it's not super well marked. Also, in the deep newly fallen leaves, parts of the pink trail were very obscure, but a quick search always yielded a blaze. This mileage (10.6) is pretty much spot on. We had it right at 11 with a couple of short side excursions for views. We were right at 5 hours and 30 minutes for the hike including a long 30 minutes for lunch at the top. We had the trail to ourselves: we saw 6 people all day and not a soul near the summit for a good two-hour window. Contrast that with 50 people at the top of Big Schloss the weekend before. Solitude is really pretty good so not a good idea to solo this: help would be a long time coming if you needed assistance. Definitely a favorite hike.

By: Brandon F Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 16, 2016
Wow finally saw the official H1KEUP vehicle after many years (I was the orange Jeep). I almost feel like the solitude should be a 4 because this past Sunday was beautiful, and only 3 cars total were in the parking area at 1030am, and only 2 at 1pm (sorry I'm a little fast...). Extra credit for this hike is to continue south on the Halfmoon Trail to the Tuscarora/Pond Run trail for 1/2 mile, turn R and through the campsite at that intersection to a trail to an overlook looking at Halfmoon Mountain (see Sugar Knob hike). Many of the trails on this loop needs some painting love, the only good blazes I recall was the road portion of the Bucktail Trail.

HikingUpward: Brandon we do remember seeing your car! What an awesome weekend. We were backpacking the circuit Sat/Sun. Would give the solitude a 4, however many people opt for the shorter 6.5 out/back to Halfmoon and park at the Halfmoon trailhead.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 12, 2016
I hiked this again today. There was a lot of downed trees and parts of the trail were very overgrown. With the faded trail markers it was difficult to follow the trail at certain points. I do feel like maybe this should be a little higher difficulty, there is a long rocky uphill section that seems like it never ends. Even with the searching for the trail and the rocky uphill section I managed to finish this in 2 hours and 46 minutes. I was trying to run the whole thing but there were certain parts I was afraid of landing wrong on a rock and rolling my ankle. Definitely worth doing at least once

By: Allie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 4, 2016
This is always a great hike. That uphill just doesn't quit though! It might work to hike it backward, but it that's your plan I recommend hiking poles to help save your knees on that downhill portion.

Note: when we were there in early June, the section of the hike on the pink trail on the map was heavy with ticks. Pulled dozens of them off our dogs, off ourselves. The only person who didn't get any was someone who treated his clothes with Premetherin ahead of time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 15, 2016
I really enjoyed this hike. Normally I'm not a fan of walking forest roads but the sections of this hike that were on the forest road were really nice. The view at the top was great and had lots of nice outcroppings to sit on. The trail markers are faded and can be a little hard to see in some spots. Tons of nice camping spots but I did this as a day hike and it took me just under four hours.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 20, 2016
Second time on this hike (first time was a day hike) and I returned with my husband and dog to make it an easy one night backpacking trip. This is such a great hike with a little of everything. We camped at the summit (there are two campsites) and though it was pretty cold and windy, we were treated to an amazing sunset, bright full moon, and beautiful sunrise from the top. We saw no one on both days, though saw many bike tracks in the mud. The difficulty rating is accurate.

By: Tom & Suzy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 21, 2015
Clear,cool sunny day.  Followed the trail as recommended. Directions very clear. Easy walk up the forest road.  The German Wilson trail is very steep near the top but then it is an easy walk up to the peak.  Short scramble at the top.  Campsite and fire rings at the top. Nice view of Trout Run valley. Beautiful streams, lots of mountain laurel (want to go back in the spring).  Only saw 4 people all day. The Bucktail trail was fairly rocky on return down and covered with leaves.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 21, 2015
Mid-Atlantic Backpackers were here November 21 - 22. This is an easy hike with one big climb that is steep and rocky. With only one view, I don't think we will be back, but it was nice to tick this off the list of Trout Run Valley area hikes. We camped at the site near the intersection of the yellow and pink trails. It was a very nice wide open, flat, site, near water. We had five tents. I think one could fit five more.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 11, 2014
My brother-in-law and I decided on this trail as a nice day hike. After a lengthy drive from Richmond, we found the loop at the beginning of the trail. It was a very foggy morning, so there was plenty of parking available. As it had rained the night before and the season being Autumn, portions of the path had slick leaves. Aside from the occasional loose wet rock on the steep ascent, the trail was very nice. The fog provided an awesomely eerie tone that felt like a scene from a scary movie. We took many pictures, but none of them portrayed the atmosphere well. The only disappointment from the hike was the fact that the vantage point was enveloped by dense fog. This hampered what we could only imagine would have been a great view. Overall, the trail was easy to navigate as there were many marked trees, especially towards the end. I would recommend the hike to others, as long as they are physically able.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 27, 2014
This was my first overnight backpacking trip. The hike was easy after the first bit at Wolf Gap. We went from Wolf Gap to Halfmoon to camp and walked down German Wilson trail to the Big Arm and back to our cabin. This was a beautiful hike. I wish I would have done it about a month later.

By: Blaine Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 7, 2014
For a beautiful Saturday in June, I was surprised that we saw only one other group of hikers on the trail, and they were coming from Tibbets Knob.  At the same time, there must have been a mob of people hiking to Big Schloss the next ridge over. The trail conditions were generally good, with some muddy spots along the FS roads and it being pretty rocky on the steep sections.  If you take a copy of the directions and the map provided by this site, you shouldn't have any problems finding your way, although some of the blazes have faded quite a bit.  The views at the top were O.K., not quite as good as Big Schloss because of the tree growth that blocked some of the views.  The only negative thing about the hike was the ticks. I pulled over 10 of them off myself and over 30 off of my dog as we walked through some of the grassy areas.  It was also a bit buggy with gnats at the start of the hike but they seemed to disappear once we left the parking area. Make sure to use plenty of insect repellent and make sure that if you bring your dog, that they have been treated for ticks and fleas.   With my friend and two dogs, it took us about six hours including lunch and breaks to finish the hike.  If you want a good hike that is uncrowded, this is a good choice.     

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 2, 2014
Really nice, fairly easy trail on a beautiful day. Saw no one except a woman on her horse till the last few miles, then a lot of people coming the other way presumably hiking in to camp for the weekend. I completed this in just under six hours, spending about an hour at the summit, wishing I were setting up camp there! The hike through the ravine is a little tough as the blazes are very faded, but it didn't take too long to find the trail again. Would love to return.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 15, 2014
We couldn't have picked a better weather day! From Trout Run Road, be sure to turn left onto the Bucktail Trail Loop (big sign!!) in order to get to the proper starting point. The stream crossings were full and winds had blown a lot of leaf litter back onto the trail which made the ravine section a little tricky (slippery feet and blind footings). Clear skies made for a beautiful view at the overlook and there was nice wind cover by the trees/rocks for a sheltered lunch spot. We didn't see anyone on the orange/pink sections of the trail, but we met up with 5 backpackers at the Halfmoon Mountain Overlook. This is definitely a moderate hike and is do-able for those beginners with average+ fitness abilities although it might be slow-going. We completed the hike in about 6.5 hours with 4 dogs, a few beginners and a 40ish minute lunch break at the overlook. Pink blazes are VERY worn/faded and the ravine section had some of them painted on the rocks rather than the trees. Not a five in my book due to all the FS road walking (about 3.5mi total)...but the ravine section, water crossings, and descent were really nice. When the leaves are on the trees, it will make for a very shady hike. Thanks HU for your hard work in mapping the trails and taking time to make our hiking experiences easier to plan out!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 23, 2014
great hike with some residual snow on the ground on the north facing slopes that made for a slightly slippery ascent.
overall, though, great views, and we really enjoyed the varied terrain!

ps- found a pedometer on the trail.  if it's yours, contact me and i'll get it back to you!

By: Gina Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 22, 2013
This is a great hike!  Very peaceful, I only saw two groups of people during my whole 5 hour adventure on the trail, one at the top lookout and one about two miles from the end.  There was no one on the steep rock scrable through the ravine on the way up.  It's a bit hard to find the trail on the ravine section just keep moving up the rocks and keep a keen eye out for the pinkish blazes.  After the very rainy summer we have been having the trail was very wet and muddy in a lot of areas.  I would strongly reccommend having waterproofed boots with all the stream crossings and wet spots on the trail.  My dogs absolutely loved frolicking in the streams and it was a bonus not to have to carry water for them as plenty was available throughout the hike.  If you like your solitude and lots of streams this is a fantastic hike to choose!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Hiking to Halfmoon Lookout has now become one of my favorite hikes in the area, I have now done it about four times. But what I do is park at a different trailhead, about 2 miles further up on Trout Run. I then hike to Halfmoon and back, without doing a loop. Had a great day on the 9th, weather was beautiful. Trail looks better, it seems the PATC has been out, and they reprinted the blazes, too. Thanks!

By: tiltingwindward Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 24, 2012
A great hike, especially if you like to be the only one on the trail - we saw only two other people the entire day.  The view from the top is also spectacular.  This is a good hike for people who have some hiking experience, but are trying to work their way up to some of the more challenging hikes in the Shenandoah region - it has some nice strolling bits and some steep scrambling bits to practice on.

Two warnings: First, the trails are blazed with orange, yellow, pink, and white, all of which tend to start looking like the same color after a season of rain (especially the orange and yellow).  We mistook the pale pink for a faded orange and ended up doing the hike backwards, which wasn't a disaster, but did leave us confused.  Some fresh blazes, maybe in more distinct colors, would be helpful.  In the meantime, just keep a careful eye out and make sure you're on the right trail. 

Second, this hike was *full* of ticks.  Definitely wear protective clothing and repellent, because you won't be able to avoid them.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 4, 2012
Halfmoon Lookout Backpack. The directions on here to the trailhead are great. We - Lisa, Greg, Austin and myself, parked and headed up the trail at about 4:30pm on Friday, May 4. We wanted to set up camp before dark, so we went in the opposite direction from that described here since it is about a 1/2 mile shorter that way. It took us almost 3 hours to get there, but the trail was open, well marked and a long gradual climb that wasn't too difficult for our first backpack of the season. We found the very nice, grassy open campsite below the lookout, but still climbed up with packs on just in case there was a better site up higher. There was a very small site up there, but we went back to the large grassy site just below and set up. It was a wonderful site with it's own overlook, though the short climb to the lookout was well worth the effort and we climbed up a bunch of times. The only negative is that there is no water anywhere close. You have to pack in enough for the first night. Saturday morning Austin and I headed off to re-supply. From the point where the white-blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail meets the yellow-blazed Halfmoon Lookout Trail we walked 1.7 miles staying on the white-blazed trail until we crossed two wooden bridges and found an active stream where we loaded up with enough water to last into the next morning. We spent the day lounging at the campsite. Very lazy. The whole loop is fairly short, so we saw no point in moving on when we clearly had the most spectacular site to ourselves. Beware of snakes in the rocky overlook area. While everyone else lounged around napping on Saturday I headed up with my book and upon spotting the perfect reading rock I headed down only to find a nice rattlesnake basking in the sun. After making like Roadrunner and bashing my knee in the process I retreated to the campsite and napped. That area must be home to a whole bunch of whippoorwills because Friday night one started singing and kept appearing in various places around the camp. It was as curious about us as we were about it. Its eyes glowed in the light of our headlamps and it allowed us to approach as it sat on a rock about 2' off the ground. We got to within about ten feet to study it until it finally flew off. It hung around all night and others nearby answered its call frequently. It was a novelty at first and then we begged it to please go to sleep. It was very noisy and was still quite noisy Saturday night. There's cell service (AT&T, but no Verizon) up there, so (forgive us) we Googled and found that whippoorwills are active at night and eat insects. They also nest in the ground, so they are susceptible to predators and are not often seen. We also happened to be at the site on the night of the "Super Moon" which was vivid when not shrouded in haze. We had rain Friday night, off an on on Saturday and some Saturday night. Regardless, it was a great relaxing trip. Very unlike our usual camp, move camp, camp, move camp marches. On Saturday Lisa, Austin and I left Greg napping and headed down the German Wilson Trail to see what awaited us on the hike out the next morning. It's VERY steep. We hiked down a good way, saw no reason to keep going, turned around and climbed back to camp, headed back up on the overlook, said "hi" to the rattlesnake who was also napping (and Austin had to sneak down and get a picture of it) and that was that for exercise for the day. We had a fine dinner (packitgourmet pizza), slept great and then headed out early and wet the next morning returning the same way we went in so we didn't have to slide down the German Wilson Trail. We didn't see anybody else up there the entire trip. We saw a tent on our departure hike next to the stream at the intersection of the Halfmoon Trail and the Bucktail Connector Trail, but no humans. The hike is like normal mountain woods. Not particularly exciting and no overlooks until you get to the top. But once you get to the top the view is glorious. The rain went away in time for us to get some beautiful sunset photos. It would be a great day hike and, as we found, a very relaxing backpack.

By: Rexpit Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 27, 2012
Brought my lil bro on this one...what an awesome hike,great steep climb,amazing views what's not to love.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2012
Had a good hike, but made three mistakes that could have been avoided had I prepared better. First off, I started at the wrong trailhead, at the end of the Halfmoon Trail. The blazes on this trail are yellow, but since they are faded, I thought they were orange. Didn't finally sort out where I was until I got to the junction of the German Wilson and Halfmoon Lookout trails. Basically I was going in the opposite direction. Anyway, proceeded up to the Halfmoon Lookout. Spectacular views, well worth it!! Weather up to this point had been perfect, but now some clouds were looking ominous. Wind was picking up. I still thought we could complete the hike before it started raining. This was my second mistake. We headed down the trail and I had the you-no-what scared out of me by a rattlesnake on the trail, I almost stepped on it. It wouldn't leave the trail, was coiled up and rattling away, probably guarding a nest. First time I have ever encountered a rattlesnake in many years of hiking. We gave it a wide berth. Watch where you are walking! We continued the hike, had an enjoyable time until it started raining when we got to Bucktail Trail. Third mistake: Not having my rain poncho with me. Stupid mistake, I always have it with me, but forgot it this time. The rain was pouring as we finally got to the trailhead. Rather than taking the Bucktail Cutoff, we walked two miles on the main road back to the Halfmoon Lookout trailhead where I had parked my car. Oh, add a fourth mistake, I had left my sunroof open!!! Doh! All in all a great hike, good views, lots of solitude, only encounter one couple on Bucktail. Lots of lessons learned, too!

By: Jayne Hiking Addict Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (  15 of us enjoyed the challenge of this hike although the fog kept us from seeing much once we got to the top of Halfmoon.  By the way if you continue on past the old tower there is a great place to eat lunch which also has views.

By: trailblazingman Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 14, 2012
I pretty much followed the directions for the trail.  The mutliple run crossings aren't too bad but if the stream is running high, your feet will get wet. Next time, I'll probably do the trail in reverse so at least my feet aren't soggy for too long on the trail.

The parking lot for the trail head is about 7 miles from Wolf Gap. You're getting closer to it when you pass the old furnace ruin on your right. A bit after the ruin is a small bridge. The gravel road to the trail is a few hundred yards on your right after the bridge. If you happen to miss the gravel road, turn around when you get to Trout Pond've gone too far. Hang a u-ie and take that first left. 

Also, some of the pink blazes are pretty faded. So, keep an eye out for pink/brownish looking blazes here and there.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 19, 2011
Awesome! Started on the trail at noon and did not see one person the entire day. Fire road was a little bland but I did see several deer. Directions were accurate and easy to follow. I thought the steep section was a little challenging and there were several downed trees but the view from the peak and the solitude made this hike well worth it. I enjoyed the pleasant stroll down the backside and appreciated the constant change in terrain. 4 1/2 hours with 20 minutes for lunch.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 1, 2011
We started on a cool and damp Spring morning. There were only 3 other vehicles in the lot at 10:30 am, so not a whole lot of traffic.

The initial fireroad was a but boring, but there was a good bit of blue wildflower (Ipheion?) growing alongside. The Capon Furnace trail was a nice warmup. Crossing Halfmoon Run was fun because it was quite active from all the rain. We had a blast tossing boulders so we could cross. We coulda took our boots off, but this was more enjoyable and a nice distraction. We saw a lot of horse hoof tracks along this segment as well.

The pink blazed German Wilson Trail followed an older creek bed ice flow. We found the the pink blazes a little bit hard to spot. At one point the bed was entirely blocked with fallen timber (a few massive trees) and couldn't locate a new blaze so we went around and relied on GPS for about a 1/4 mile til we got near the ridge and white blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail. Ascending the peak wasn't too hard as it was relatively short. Beautiful views can be taken in from the top, although it was a bit rainy when we were there. Hopefully next time it's a clear day.

The descent was fairly ordinary and had some nice up and downs for a good workout near the end. However I won't lie, we were cursing these at the end. Overall a good hike for the Spring due to the abundance of water and wildflowers. A good distance with enough challenge to get a good workout. It took us 4 hours, which included a few 10 minute stops at stream crossings and at the top.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 22, 2010
Let me start by saying that I'm an "amateur".   This is my second real hike ever.   My first was Signal Knob so I have little basis for comparison here.

The beginning of this hike is little more than a lovely walk through the woods, following the service road and then the creek.   The "fun" begins with the German-Wilson trail.   I fueled up with a granola bar and water before beginning the trek.   (There's a nice sitting rock at the trail head.   I stacked some rocks there to mark it.   Wanted a memorial in case I died on the way up.).   I stopped no less than 8 times, but wow it was worth it.   The white Halfmoon Mountain trail and the view from the top were well worth it!!!   Beautiful!!!

Now for the technical.   The trail was VERY well-marked, though I managed to almost lose it twice.   Once by the creek, and once on the way back down the pink trail...   I would imagine that winter is the best time to go.   It really gives you a better perspective on where you are.   I could see the opposing ridgeline to my left as I walked along the ridge of Halfmoon Mountain.   With full foliage I can't imagine there being much to see until you reach the top.   The problem with this time of year?   HUNTERS!!!   I ran into 3 hunters on the trail.   One on the fire road at the beginning, one that was actually dragging a dead dear DOWN the German-Wilson trail, and another on the Yellow portion on the downside...   Wear something bright!!!  (I had on a red bandana).  

Anyway, I really enjoyed the hike.   I'd be interested to see the difference in the spring, summer or fall.

By: Michael A Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 10, 2010
The weather was great--warm, even--for an early October hike/overnight backpack.

We got to the trail head late and hiked the loop in reverse in order to get to the campsite marked above.   In reverse, it was an uphill climb for maybe 30 minutes, but not overly difficult.  The campsite market above is probably the best of any we saw--large, and near a water source, with a nice fire ring.   It is also the first/only campsite on the back section of the trail.  All others are located before the turnoff for the Halfmoon overlook--and there were a few.

A fox visited us in the evening--he was clearly curious and circled our camp site for awhile.  Only his eyes were visible until we turned in and caught him in our headlamps.  Didn't seem to startled or afraid.  Besides that, a few chipmunks and a skink up on the overlook, not a lot of wild life to be seen, though there was evidence of bear and deer around.

The overlook is nice--we had a good view of the valley and leaves starting to change.

The trails is easy to follow and well-blazed.  The hike down the ravine on the purple section was very rocky and steep, but I can see it being a little easier on the way up. 

The trail wasn't crowded at all--we passed 2 hikers, a biker, and 1 other campsite in-use, but otherwise had it to ourselves.

It's a solid, if non-distinct, hike. 

By: Andy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 29, 2010
A very nice quiet hike through the woods. This hike was made beautiful by the many wildflowers including the blooming mountain laurel.

The trails are all well marked and clear of large debris but they could use a few more pairs of boots going over them.

By: thomhouse Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 24, 2009
Did this for a second time after the rain let up.  Great view of the foliage.  2009 not a great year for leaf licking, but this is spot is as good as it gets for a view of what nature has to offer.  Good workout.  Trail is very well marked.  Pretty much on your own with the exception of a few other hikers at the beginning and very end.  Took 4.25 hrs, including a 20 minute rest and view at the peak.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 18, 2009

8 hikers tackled Halfmoon Mountain in 4 hours today including a short break @ the Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail.  We got the best of 2 worlds.  On the lower part, the leaves were turning colors and dropping leaves.  Once we got on German Wilson Trail, it was a winter wonderland and quite spectacular.

It was not our most difficult hike but we all agreed that it was a good workout and we enjoyed the trail.  Having the difficult climb 1/2 way thru the hike was challenging.  All the rocks, many wet, covered by leaves added a new dimension.

We had the entire hike to ourselves which was an added plus.

By: BryceHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 9, 2008
Hiked on an upper 30 degree day.  The trek up the German Wilson trail was a major workout; mentally and physically.  Nice views at the top. Some interesting rock outcroppings along the creek.   Much of the trail is very rocky, made much worse by the layer of leaves on top of them. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 28, 2007
I hiked this trail in August, using the directions on  This weekend, I hiked to Halfmoon lookout again, but from the other side of the mountain, using the trailhead on Waites Run road.  From this direction, you follow Waites Run trail (west of Waites Run road) for 2.5 miles, crossing Waites Run several times before climbing to the ridge and connecting to the yellow blazed Halfmoon trail.  Turn right and follow the Halfmoon trail for 0.7 miles, then straight onto the Halfmoon spur trail for about 1 mile, passing the pink blazed Bucktail connector trail along the way.  Return using the same route.  Either trail is a nice day hike, and a great view of Trout Run Valley, without all the company you'll have on Big Schloss or Tibbet Knob. 

By: aHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 5, 2006
A nice quiet hike. It’s easy to miss the yellow blaze off Trout Run Road. You'll know you've gone too far when you reach the Animal Zoo. The Wilson Trail appears not to be well-traveled. I agree with the write-up that this is probably the most energetic part. Once on the ridge, you finally get to see some scenery. The view at the top is decent and sort of panoramic but probably better enjoyed in the morning than in the afternoon. The final stretch, over the Buckhead Connector Trail, is an up and down affair that seems to go on forever. I noticed a lot of road clearing along the way, an unwelcome sign of civilization. Overall, this hike affords an OK workout, but it’s not anywhere near the caliber of an Old Rag or White Oak Canyon hike. It’s needs something besides the view at the top, a waterfall perhaps.

By: Susan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 4, 2005
I read the reviews on this site and decided to try this hike with my husband and dog to help us prepare for a longer backpacking trip. We did it as an overnight trip and hiked in to the trail from the adjacent Pond Run Trail. We started at the overlook and camped on the pink trail at the stream which was more like a trickle but had enough water to filter to drink. We hiked the trail around the orange section and then climbed the German Wilson section back to the overlook. We liked it, but it left us all with really sore feel and pretty tired at the end of the day. There were hoof prints on the German Wilson section and I can't believe a full size horse could make it up there. Maybe a mule? The views at the top were great and I loved the alpine flora on the ridges. This was a pretty challenging day hike, but the views are good and worth it. We did have a bit of difficulty when finding the Wilson Trail because there was a fork in the road that wasn't mentioned on the directions as we were looking for another fork in the road. The tree blocking the way should have alerted us, but we searched for a trail before giving up and backtracking. Follow the orange blazes. We just didn't go far enough.

By: Kyle Wright Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 2, 2005
This is a good hike with several sections that will elevate your heart rate a bit. It starts off rather quietly as you meander down a service road. The grass is starting to get knee to waist high in many areas on the road so be sure to do a tick check periodically. I had a few but they were still moving north when I found them. The creeks were low but still wet. The German Wilson Trail sign has sustained some damage and is not of much use as there are no arrows on it anymore. Watch closely for the markings. The trail itself will make you rethink your physical condition for sure. It is like walking stairs that are a mile long. There are several areas where the ferns have grown over the trail and rocks making it hard to see where and what you might be steping on. Watch your step. The view on the top is wonderful and the trail after the summit is nice and uneventful. It is also downhill...... There is wildlife as I saw a number deer and several turkey. I would do this hike again. The only thing it is missing is a swimming hole.

By: M.R.Hyker Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 6, 2005
A good friend, Don Holland, kept telling me about this hike he had done with others a couple of years ago but I never got around to doing it until last year. It wasn't on the 95 edition of the PATC F map. It was on the 2001 edition but I bought that in ... 2003. Sorry, I'm a procrastinator. Now I'm REALLY sorry I didn't do it sooner. I classify this one as moderate but it's upper end moderate. Don't try this one if your not in shape. If you THINK you're in shape, Mr. Wilson's Trail may prove otherwise. If you accomplish that one small one mile segment you'll be in for one of the top views in the Lee Ranger District. As stated here the stream walk is also quite nice but it tends to wither away in the summer months so it is best to appreciate it in the spring or just after all of the snow is gone. With the sudden spike in temperature yesterday I took a vacation day and joined the man form to enjoy it one more time. Good decision!

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