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Hiker Comments for the Kepler Overlook Hike - 1 to 51 of 51   
Average Rating:

By: Brad Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 24, 2019
Fun hike. Not too strenuous and nice views from the top.

Be careful about the sign for the spring though! When you get to a fork in the trail, there's a sign that says the spring is 140' down a wide, muddy forestry road to the right. That sign is wrong. Instead, go left, following the Tuscarora Trail and you'll find the spring.

By: Emily Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 13, 2019
The campsite at the view is really phenomenal. There's nothing like waking up to a pink, misty sunrise over the mountains and valley without having to get out of your sleeping bag to enjoy it! That said, the viewpoint isn't as nice as some of the others in the area. I didn't realize until I did the hike that the campsite is the viewpoint--it would have been disappointing and a little awkward to make the hike and then find that someone was already camping there. There are a couple of other clearings in the area where people could camp, but none with quite the same view (they are great for stargazing though!) We didn't see any other people on this summer Sat-Sun trip.

The signage around the improved spring is a little confusing. It's right off the trail, not down the muddy side-path. Don't get your feet muddy for nothing, just stay on the Tuscarora and you'll see it!

As expected, the ridge is pretty dry so fill up at the spring and bring enough water to the top for the night and morning.

By: Eddie M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 2, 2019
Backpacked to Kepler overlook and stayed the night on 2/2/2019. The trail was very well marked. THANK YOU to the volunteers/rangers that put up the new signs. The trail was icy in spots so we had to be cautious carrying the extra 25+ pounds on our backs. We were fortunate to have a clear night and the stars and valley lights did not disappoint. Winter camping takes a little more preparation and warmer gear but totally worth the effort.

By: Eric W Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2018
Overall, really enjoyed this hike on National Public Lands Day! Trail was waterlogged in places around the stream portions due to all the rains we've had, but the views from the Kepler Overlook were great and the leaves around the top of the mountain had a hint of fall to them! Took us 4 hours and 15 minutes with picture/snack breaks. A few notes:

1) As another commenter noted, they have new signs that make finding things pretty easy.

2) Maybe due to this new attention, the trail was less secluded than we anticipated - still not busy, but we did run into several groups (especially with dogs).

3) If the Kepler Overlook is crowded or already has campers, there are also a few rock outcroppings a bit further down the trail that provide similar, more secluded views as well.

By: Darren Cambridge Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 28, 2018
I took my nine-year-old son on his first backpacking trip on this route, and it was perfect for that purpose. There are signs, which appear new and aren't mentioned in the description, at several points that combine with the blazing to make the well-maintained trail very easy to follow. Two of the signs pointed us to springs, close to the main trail about a mile from the top, that were flowing well (mid-summer, after a week with substantial rain). Even the steepest parts are moderate, at best. We came across a huge black rat snake and a tiny rattler, but no other significant wildlife. The campsite at Kepler's Overlook has the most memorable view of anywhere I've camped in in the region. We were treated to a huge, incandescent harvest moon.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2018
A great hike through beautiful blooming mountain Laurel. The view from Kepler Overlook is amazing. There are several water crossings with rocks to walk on, but bring a walking stick for balance. The trail is well blazed and not overgrown. We stayed at the campsite at the top of the ridge, on the right, as the trail just bends to the left.

It stormed like crazy!!!

We love this hike. Not too steep. Our dog joined us.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2018
Overall a good hike. It is worth to make a quick stop on the hike up to the a vista west from Tea Mountain. You can avoid getting your shoes wet in the stream if you look around a little, there is a big log to cross the second part of the stream on the left while going up. My friends decided to take their shoes off and get in the water instead :)

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 19, 2018
Great hike with an outstanding view. The creek can be knee deep or more, so be prepared to get wet.

I camped overnight but got surprisingly drenched because the weather forecast linked above is for a town 50 miles to the south! It was super windy and rained the entire time. I wish I had caught that because it sucks having a muddy puppy in the tent and I wouldn't have gone.

By: Matt Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 27, 2017
This out and back hike is phenomenal. I went as a solo backpack trip for an overnighter on a Friday night. It took me about 2 hours to reach the top with 30lb, fully loaded pack. (FYI-There is no water any where near the top. If you do not have water, make sure that you fill up at the creek crossing. This is your only opportunity. Carry all the water you will need.) The hike is beautiful and easy to follow. I would have a print to make sure you follow the directions. Once on top, the campsite and view are second to none.

Another recommendation is to keep an eye on the weather. I would not recommend camping up here if winds are predicted to be above about 5 mph. The prediction was for 5 -10 and I think they were closer to 15 - 20 with gusts to 25. As a matter of fact, as soon as I was on the back side of the ridge, the wind was significantly less brutal.

The wind aside, the fall colors are a bit past the peak but man were they still out in all the glory. Also sunset and sunrise are amazing up here. Excellent view, wonderful campsite and solitude was plentiful. I saw zero people on the trail and only one other party camping down by the parking area. I heard the dogs, saw the tents and cars, but did not see another person. The leaves on the trail even seemed quite undisturbed and I feel like many people do not make it back this way. The return trip on that morning took me only about an hour and was quite nice in the early morning.

This is my new favorite and look forward to hiking this again year round. Hope you enjoy your time out there. Cheers!

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 29, 2017
I was in the mood for a shorter hike and this did fine. Both the forestry road and the Tuscarora Trail portions, for the most part, are wide and relatively smooth. The incline of the trail is relatively constant. I forgot my hiking pole in my car but it turned out I didn't need it. The leaves were starting to fall so I had to be a little careful of covered holes and covered rocks that might twist my ankle.

The Tea Mountain overlook toward Little Sluice Mountain is nice. The description says the side trail to it is unmarked but there is now a small wooden sign marking it. Once you get to the rock outcrop you have to negotiate it to get to the view. You can't go up and have to go right or left -- it's not clear which way is best but if you go right in 20 feet or so you will see a trail leading to the view.

The Keppler Overlook and campsite are great. I'd like to spend a night there sometime. There are several potential tent areas near the main campsite in case the main one is occupied.

I didn't get the "3" rating for streams. Cedar Creek was dry as were all other apparent runs. I saw no water on the hike, contrary to the photos linked in the description showing water. I was at those locations and they were bone dry. Not even one spring. It had been dry for a several days before I hiked. Bring enough water.

The gate at Parking Area 1 was unlocked so I drove to Parking Area 2. By my reckoning that shortened the hike to 5.8 miles. I saw no others on the hike. In many respects a pleasant hike.

By: garcia Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 6, 2017
Kepler overlook Overall:3 Difficulty:3 Solitude:4 Streams:2 Views:3 Camping:3. Found the right closed gate (the one just before the 4-car parking space at the end of the road), despite somewhat confusing directions. Gated fire road leads to yellow-blazed Cedar Creek Trail, which crosses blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail. Take Tuscarora to the left. It's then a mostly moderate uphill all the way to Kepler Overlook (which has some poison ivy, btw). There is a trail-marking rock cairn about half way up I think that trail goes more steeply down the mountain, ending at some dirt roads. When you reach Kepler, there are good views and some flat camp sites if you keep going, the trail continues downhill, I don't know where. One other thing: if it hasn't rained recently, bring enough water, Cedar Creek was low and there was no other clean water crossing the trail. Trail was moderately rocky, saw 4 groups (2-6 people), camp sites were clean. No cell coverage.

By: Colin S Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 10, 2017
This is a very nice hike. We did it as an overnight for training purposes (climbing Rainier in two months). We continued down the blue trail past the overlook to add mileage, the trail got very overgrown however.

Getting there is dicey as other reviewers have noticed- the locals FLY on those tiny windy mountain roads, very unsafe (surprisingly I am not a cranky old man either- that's just how risky they were driving). Plenty of parking, if you keep going down past the first 2 campsites on the road to the trail head there is a turn off spot that could handle plenty of cars.

Great trail- not too steep (albeit with a 50 lb pack it was a good test) and not too rocky. Plenty of water as well. The view is spectacular. The lower camps were somewhat trashed, people certainly did not respect them (beer cans, cigarette butts, etc). The main excitement came after we set up shop at a beautiful campsite we found about halfway down the mountain. After setting up our tents and unpacking all our materials, we discovered a lovely 5' Rattler sitting 15 feet from our tent. He was in defensive mode and had zero intentions of moving on, so we took the hint and packed up and left! We moved down the mountain about a mile to another camp site and had a great night. No ticks to speak of as well. Saw maybe 10 people all day, most of them from the same party that was moving up to camp on the top ridge overlook campsite. This trail connects with many other trails at the base and would be a great addition to a longer backpacking adventure.

By: Charley Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
This is a great hike! Weather today was incredible and I didn't see a single person the whole time.

Agree with everyone else that the directions are rotten. Hopefully Hiking Upward can spruce them up. Basically, you can park anywhere, but the hike starts at the trail that says Cedar Creek Trail. Someone also scratched "Kepler -->" on the post of the gate as well. Then go straight on the yellow flashed trail, take a left on the blue flash trail, then it's all blue from there.

And for the campers out there kvetching that only one site has good views: if you keep going past that first campsite with good views there are a few additional campsites that also have amazing views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 20, 2017
Decided to forego the inaguration shenanigans in DC and take the trail on this day. Mother nature rewarded me handsomely for this decision. Unseasonably warm at 45 degrees when I started from the trail head. I understand some of the sentiments on this review board about where the trail starts, but I basically set off down the road from the parking area (parking is on the right as you drive in, while a single creekside campsite is on the left, I parked at the campsite) and simply proceeded straight. You see a number of closed gates on the forestry roads but the one directly in front of me someone had conveniently wrote "Keppler" with an arrow on the left post of the gate. Bingo! Caught a touch of rain about an hour a third of the way up, but it stopped by the time I reached the top. Excellent campsites mere feet from the overlooks all along the ridgeline at the top. I had originally planned on camping up top, but accomplished my goal so early in the day, I set out for another trail elsewhere. That wind was really whipping up there though. Slight fog was hanging low, but you could still see back into most of Maurertown(sp?) and much of the valley below. Hiking in winter is already a pretty austere experience, but hiking up through a light fog was an especially eerie and fun experience. Knowing the area, I can confidently say that a mountaintop sunrise on a clear morning from the overlook sites would absolutely fantastic considering there is very little obstruction from the trees at the top from many spots. My favorite part of this my hike, over the 3.5 hours I spent leisurely backpacking it, I didn't see a single other person out there with me. Killer!

By: Group Hike Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2016
Great Hike! Like the person below said, walk back to the open gate (broken) and up that hill to start the Hike. Do not go through the "closed gate" right near the parking area. Pretty easy hike up, the last mile is a bit tough but not terrible.

We got the mountain around 10am and parking was already tough. We had 7 in our group and wanted to camp at the summit, but were nervous that all of the campsites may be taken. As we hiked up, we passed a few campsites but decided we would scope out the summit. Took us 2.5 hours to hike up. There are plenty of sites at the summit! At the main overlook, there's a really great campsite that actually has a grate over the campfire for cooking. This campsite was already taken so we kept walking about a 300 yards and found a nice spot for 3 tents. Plenty of rock-built campfire sites which helped contain the fire during the windy conditions.

overall- great hike and great camping. we even saw a black bear cub!

By: Zendog74 Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 10, 2016
Great hike. However, like others, we had trouble finding it in the beginning.

When you pull of to the left to park in the second parking area, there is a closed gate there. DO NOT take it like we did. Walk back to the road you were driving on and go through the gate continuing in the same direction in which you were driving. The gate there was OPEN when we went. It looked like it had maybe been broken, so it may be open or closed. You can't rely on directions that say the "closed gate." As someone else mentioned in their comment, there is also a sign there for Clear Creek.

Once we got on the right trail, it was great. Gentle incline up to a stellar overlook. It is one we will definitely do again!

By: Benji Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 24, 2016
This hike is awesome! Not too difficult or long but gets you to the top and the view is incredible. There are a bunch of great camping spots at the top.

There are trail maps posted at the base of this trail that do NOT include Kepler Overlook. Its not super long or difficult to figure out, but you will make a few turns. If you have a decent sense of direction you will be fine.

By: Balt Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 4, 2016
Really enjoyed this hike and the view at the end was much worth the climb.

The instructions posted here are a little unclear, since there are several forest road gates at the beginning. Be sure to begin your hike at the gated area that is accompanied by a sign for the Cedar Creek Trail. If there is no trail sign, you are starting in the wrong place.

Our group and two others were fooled by this the other day...we ended up hiking for over an hour before we figured things out.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 12, 2016
While I very much enjoyed this hike, I also found it quite difficult. This was my first overnight hike so I made some rookie errors (pack way too heavy and didn't eat enough calories) and I am not in the best shape so take that into consideration. I feel like it would have been a moderate hike had I only been carrying a day pack.

I took my pup and headed up on a Friday afternoon and we had the mountain to ourselves. Granted, we were probably the only ones dumb enough to go during a heat wave with a foreast of rain.

We saw one smallish black bear on the hike up and a very startled whitetail on the way down. The wind can really kick at the top and there was a lightning and thunder show until about midnight so bring your earplugs and maybe eye guard (at the top site there isn't much tree cover so the Lightning seemed like strobe lights).

I found the hike to be quite lovely and the mountain stream about a mile from the top was not only picturesque, but also the perfect place to top off water. The hike really gets a lot more difficult after this point.

We didn't see another person until we came back down to park where a couple was setting up to car camp for the night. All in all it was a great experience :)

Also, I found the trail to be very well marked and had no trouble navigating. The forestry service must have added some marking since some of the earlier reviews.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2016
We just got back from an overnight car camp and loved it ! Last year my gf and I hiked to the overlook and camped and have been wanting to come back and do a car camp as well. This place is a secret paradise... until now lol . Not many places have the option of both, and Kepler comes through with flying colors as far as we are concerned. We will def be back many times in the future as well...

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 3, 2016
The directions are terrific. I would only note the following. Mile 0.0: the directions note that the second parking area is a left turn-out I was confused whether to turn left. You should NOT turn left just keep going straight. Somewhere between mile .8 and mile 2.1, there's a cool three-log bridge that takes you over a very small stream the directions don't note it, but I thought I should. That's it for edits on directions. A few other notes. The campsites are nice, and I did see campers on the ridgeline (even in January). The trail is relatively easy Hiking Upward gives it a 3 for difficulty- I agree with that. The trail is a bit muddy in spots. The Tuscarora Trail (blue blaze) continues past Keppler Overlook, but it's not clear where it goes. At the very beginning of the trail, there's a sign that captures all of the trails in that area, but even that sign doesn't show the full extent of Tuscarora. Hiking Upward doesn't have notes on the other trails (at least I don't think it does), but it would be somewhat cool to explore them.

By: Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Good solitude and a nice walk. Don't be put off by the hundreds of "no trespassing" signs as you approach the parking area and natl forest.

Hunters at top so best to wait until end of season, I think...also, second gate is down. looks like it was rammed by a vehicle. parking is exactly as described.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 5, 2015
Biggest black I've ever seen. So I got to the overlook and pitched my tent for the night. I'm alone by the way. After breakfast the next morning I decided to head back early and was in the process of packing up when I look up and 30 ft away from me is a huge black bear staring at me. The bear began to approach me so I stood up slowly keeping my voice calm and backed away slowly. He grabs my rain fly and takes off. I quickly pack up and leave when Yogi decides to come back and is in my path 20 ft away. I kept walking and he kept watching until I was out of his danger zone.

This bear was very curious and not afraid of humans. I even took necessary precautions by hanging my food away from the campsite and not eating close to the tent. I did not have a bear spray with me so I'm not sure what I would have done if he was aggressive. Btw, this is my second trip to this hike and my second encounter with a black bear.

All in all, this hike/camp was awesome, bear included. Oh I actually took some pictures of the bear, probably a stupid idea at the time. I'll try to upload them.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 15, 2015
Car camping here is the best! It was so isolated and very quite. The hike to the over look is okay but the overlook itself! WoW very nice spot.

By: Apartment Dweller Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 4, 2015
:: There was a decent sized black bear roaming around closer to the start point ::

Do with that what you will.

The hike itself was ok. It wasn't very scenic during a green part of the year. There were others camping on the summit, and we really couldn't see anything through the trees.

It felt a little to ... organized for my tastes. After a 3 hour hike, you really don't expect to stumble onto several other people and a completely built campsite. There was already a stone fire ring with logs fed into it.

The underbrush was so thick you couldn't really stray far from the campsite. So, overall, it felt very small. I'd prefer a more mature forest to explore, just my preference.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 6, 2015
My gf and I just finished an overnighter and are still looking at pictures and talking about it. The trail was great , but not easy, it did have some good elevation. It had a stream crossing, a spring , nice views, a small log bridge, very nice campsites (including car campsites), amazing views and above all, solitude.

As far as the trail directions, all you have to do is follow the blue blazes, trust me, you'll be fine. It is very well marked and the blazes are very visible. We had the entire mountain to ourselves the whole night, never saw a single soul till the hike back and they were fellow HikingUpward followers. :)

Keep up the good work, this is a great site and any trails I follow from here, will get a review for help.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 24, 2015
This was a good hike out and back. Although I was expecting to encounter fewer people, it was still a fair amount of solitude. We got to the trail late and found the two campsites at the top that we originally planned to stay in already occupied. However, there was a nice big campsite just back from the ridge and it accommodated our three tents perfectly.

It is a fairly easy hike. The only complaint is that the best views are from the great campsite on the ridge. If you don't have the opportunity to look out at the valley from there, the other views are somewhat obstructed when the trees have leaves.

I would definitely do this hike again if I only had a short trip in mind.

By: Gabe Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 2, 2015
Great hike! Unlike most of the rocky trails in Virginia this hike is mostly dirt and moss. Very easy hike and the best part was that we only saw about 12 hikers all day. The instructions sound a bit complicated but really its just a matter of following the blue blaze and knowing that a double mark is telling you which way to go.

By: Chris K Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 10, 2015
Great hike--we started the hike at the 2nd permanently closed gate--follow previous reviews to find the start of the trail. Fairly cool and overcast which made this hike very manageable--my Dad is not a big hiker and felt that this was a very doable hike. Camped overnight at the summit of the mountain and had great views of WV and the valley below! Hiked another couple hundred yards farther on the trail and there is another campsite that is exposed to the cliff, but beautiful views--worth walking down the trail! Saw a couple deer on the way back down the next morning. Stopped at the overlook after the first or second switchback on the way down the hill and it is worth it--great views from atop a rock perch about 100 yards from the main trail. Only saw a group of people on this trail camping back near the cars at the creek crossing campsite--otherwise total solitude.

By: Lily Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 31, 2015
Don't even consider this hike in the winter if there has been recent snowfall or ice in the area. We tried to go out here on a beautiful, sunny (but very cold!) Saturday for a day hike and drove 4 miles on a 1 lane, ice-covered road before finally turning around because the road became impassable. The last half mile of the road to the parking area isn't maintained by the state, so I'm talking 4-5 inches of untouched ice and snow. And later in the trip we drove past a few other entrances to GW National Forest that looked exactly the same.

On the bright side, Wardensville, WV wasn't too far away so we made a quick trip to Lost River Brewing!

Looking forward to doing this hike when we can actually get to it!

By: Kate Boronkay Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 27, 2014
I did this hike with a girlfriend that rarely hikes and my 5 1/2 old pup, Zoey. This is definitely one of my favorite hikes that I've been on using this website.

The start is a little tricky to find. When you park, you will see a camp site to your left and a gate in front of you. The gate to enter is actually behind you, so if you turn around and walk back towards the curve left in the road, you will see a second gate. That is the one to go up! (Several groups went to the gate that is directly in front of where you park and took that trail for an hour until you go no longer move forward - my group included - no fun!)

There is a part after you pass another small camping area in which you need to cross a dried up stream over three or four logs that have created a bridge. This wasn't in the directions.

Also, be sure to take the 100 yard side trail which will give you your great first views. When you see the first rock output, go up it to the right. BEAUTIFUL.

Also, at the end of the hike, we passed a large camp site at the top on your LEFT, we went past that for a few minutes and climbed up onto the rocks for the final view. We tried a few spots until we found one that was our favorite.

By: Laine C Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Overall an enjoyable hike! A nice change of pace from the typical NoVA locations. The worst part was getting there - you have to brave quite a few winding back roads to get there and the locals drive fast, so be careful. The first part of the hike was deceptively easy. Once you make the turn up Tea Mtn, it gets much harder. It was very dry, so we didn't have any problems with footing, but I could see how it would be difficult when wet. I thought the trail was well marked, considering how few people we saw. As others mentioned, bring bug spray and/or never stop moving. We will be back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Planned this hike as a 2-day, 1-night backpacking trip. We were a group of 5 with varied backpacking experience levels.

First, some important things to know about this trail:

- The directions describe the left turn-off for parking area. There is also a closed gate at the back of this parking area, but that is not the correct gate to go through. You want to exit the parking turn-off back towards where you came from and go left. Make sure you are heading South West when you start!

- After you pass the creek and creek campsite, the trail turns up hill and remains up hill for the largest portion of this hike. For our beginner backpackers, this was very grueling, though much of the strain may have been mitigated with different shoes, and better fitting packs. Also, we'd hiked about 2 miles total on other trails prior to beginning this one, so that didn't help :).

- There are 7 switchbacks after you leave the forestry road. Look for the hidden / unmarked trail to the panoramic view on switchback # 6. We never actually found it. After switchback # 7, the trail flattens out considerably.

- The ridge line campsite is also on an unmarked trail after switchback #7, and after you reach the flat portion. There are two separate fire pits and two nice areas for tents. We pitched 2 tents, and used the fire ring slightly up the hill with a *Fantastic* view of the valley and great rock outcroppings to sit on. There's a fair large pile of wood that we collected from downed trees, great for next weekend!

- The wind is VERY loud at this campsite, if it gets going. Bring earplugs!

- If you're feeling adventurous, you can drop your packs and continue hiking along the Tuscarora Trail past the ridge line campsite however, we found that this portion had not been passed through recently and had to do a bit of bushwhacking to make it through. We hiked about a mile further along this trail, which goes from northern PA to southern WV.

Overall, this was an excellent backpacking hike for a mixed crowd. It was fun, with beautiful views and a great camping area. We would have liked to spend more time on the trail alone, however. I would NOT give this trail a 4 for solitude. More like 2-3. There were large groups (10+) of people camped at both parking areas, and another group (2) joined us at the ridge line campsite.

Would hike again.

By: Ron Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 15, 2014
Great hike. This is a fairly easy hike with multiple camping sites. There is a great camping site at the summit which I would probably camp out overnight in the future. This was my first solo hike and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Since it is very solitary you really absorb everything about it and appreciate it. It took about 90 mins to get to the top and about 1 hr to get back down. The view at the top was spectacular and it was hard to leave. On the drive back I saw three black bears on the road and made a video.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Was surprised how much solitude I found on this trail for a Sunday in the summertime - didn't see another person at all. The trail was very dry, as we haven't had much rain lately. This was a pretty hike, nice easy incline, but would probably be nicer in late fall/winter with more views and less bugs. The trail is easy to follow, and I didn't run into any problems as the previous hikers had. On the climb up Tea Mountain, it's very much worth taking the side trail off of one of the switchbacks for an amazing view - even better than at the top in my opinion. The trail is visible, but blocked off by a few stones and a log. It'll be about halfway up and off to the left of the main trail. There was a LOT of poison ivy, so be careful. Also, a ton of gnats buzzed around my face the whole hike, so bring bug spray.

By: Bill Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Stayed overnight at the top. Nice view but not spectacular. Watch out for the small bridge constructed over the second creek crossing - the logs roll pretty easy needs some work.

By: Sammy Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 20, 2014
This was really not as good of a hike as we were lead to believe. It was incredibly muddy almost the entire way and the trail was poorly maintained (lots of branches in the way of the trail). The overlook was not a panoramic view and was quite limited by the trees.

There are a lot of streams, but some are difficult to cross without submerging your feet completely.

Hopefully this clears up soon.

By: Greg S Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 17, 2014
We enjoyed this hike a lot. Cool temps, no mosquitoes. It was wet from all the rain last week until we started climbing the ridge, but nothing terrible. Had a fun creek crossing too where we had to use a downed tree to get across. Best part - we didn't see a single other person the entire time. Thanks for all the tips in other reviews...we got started okay but missed 2 turns that were easy to correct because of the directions. Yes, we say the famous "white house".

View from the overlook itself was outstanding - I'd love to go back and camp there.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 4, 2014
My wife, our 10 year old daughter, and our Shiba Inu, Kobe did this hike from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Was terrific weather, mid 70's with LOTS of wind. It rained really heavy last week and the brooks, streams, and runs were all full. We saw cool the coolest spring gushing right out of the side of the mountain, just before the side trail to Tea Mountain overlook. There were a few more campsites than the ones listed at this site. The moss was the nicest thing I have ever hiked on. We really liked the trail and Kepler's Overlook was fantastic.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 3, 2013
This is a great hike that isn't too strenuous and has a great view at the end and can easily be done in an afternoon.  We did this hike on an unseasonably warm day in early October that could have been mistaken for July or August with the haze and temperatures nearly at 80 degrees.

The parking area was easy to find, just continue down Van Buren Rd until you can't go any farther.  The road was in good shape and a normal car would be fine traveling on it.  The concrete bridges over the creek looked new and there were newer signs warning you to not drive over water, so I think the creek can topple the bridge over fairly easily during heavy rain.  The first gate was open so we continued to the area just past the second gate(which was actually open but the path was unsuitable for vehicles).  The other comments were extremely useful in finding which gate to walk through, I won't repeat them here but just be sure to read them so you know where to start hiking.

The trail was pretty easy to follow, just look for the blazes on the trees.  As previously mentioned, where there is a double blaze, the trail takes a turn!  We found one misleading double blaze not long after starting but it wasn't too hard to find the right path to take.  Somewhere around 2 miles in, watch out for the turn off your current trail(which is an old road).  We missed this turn and continued up the hill to the white house, which sure enough was in a previous comment.  We got confused until we re-read the reviews, so we turned around and found the turn we missed.  So if you find a white house, TURN AROUND and go back DOWN as you missed the turn off.  After this turn off it was a relatively easy hike up some switchbacks to the top.  Once you see the campsite, keep following the blue blazes for about 500' and you will find the overlook just off the trail, look for an opening in the trees and some rocks right on the end of the ridge.  Unfortunately it was very hazy when we were up there so the view was not nearly as impressive as a clear day.  Stink bugs were everywhere right on the edge, but the rest of the hike was not buggy at all.

We made it up in about 90 minutes(including our missing the one turn) and down in 60 minutes, the terrain was not difficult at all and with nothing technical, I'd rate the difficulty a "2" for an experienced hiker.  Just be sure to print out the map/directions/comments, watch for the turnoff around mile 2, and you won't have any issues with navigating the trails.

(The forest was actually "closed" due the govt shutdown when we hiked this but you can't put up caution tape up over the entire GWNF!!!)

By: Jcarey Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 28, 2013
!!!READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU DON"T WANT TO GET LOST!!! I hiked this with a group of friends and we all misread the directions. In addition we met three other large groups of hikers on the wrong trail (who had also taken the wrong trail) all of them had gotten directions from this website. There are two closed gates, one is on the right side of the road as you walk up the gravel road from the first parking area, make sure you take the first one which will be on your right side. DO NOT TAKE THE trail that immediately passes over a huge steel pipe that allows the river/stream to pass under the trail. You will know you are one the right trail when you see yellow trail markers painted on trees beginning about 150-250 yards after you pass the correct gate.

By: KD Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Great camping spots, tucked along the road in by the creek and several other larger areas. Sites/sights at the top are worth the hike! I read reviews here and still hiked the wrong direction before finding the right trail. Closed gates are located in several places depending on season so finding the right trailhead can be tricky. Do not hike the fire road that as a huge 15 ft wide storm drain this gate is located right next to a large car camping area. Once on correct trail blue blaze is well marked. The cairn marking the overlook is apex knee high to when it flattens out on the ridge keep an out on the right.

By: OB Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 14, 2013
It was a great hike when we found it! Just a tip for future hikers DO NOT GO LEFT when you reach the closed gate. Walk pass the campsite and other closed gate but keep going straight through the closed gate that says "Road Closed". If you find yourself on a very overgrown path and no blue markings it is the wrong path.

By: Brittany Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 12, 2013
This was a great hike! It was difficult to find and difficult to navigate. Still, it was well worth it. I definitely recommend printing off the map, coordinates of the parking area, and the instructions above (mile x: blah blah blah) and read the reviews. We were able to navigate the trail after doing so. Follow the gates that say Road Closed and then follow the blue trail markers. Double blue means that there is some sort of turn to note. Sometimes they didnt mean a lot but sometimes they meant staying on the trail. If you see a white house, turn back - you missed a hairpin. It was a great trail! Uphill the way there but gradual, so there was slightly difficult and back was super easy. There are 2 amazing camp sites - one in the middle and one at the end of the trail (a pile of rocks marks the end of the trail). Really well set up camp sites. It was a great length for heading out in the afternoon and coming back before noon. The sight at the end is beautiful and again, such a great place to camp!

By: Steve Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 10, 2013
Great hike but ditto on the suggestion to print the hike directions or screencap them and load them onto your phone.  It's easy to miss the turns.  If you see a double blaze then there's a turn you should me making -- keep an eye out. Parking was interesting as we just kept driving until we encountered a gate and couldn't go any further.  There's a small wooded area off to the right that will hold four or five vehicles.  We missed the small pile of rocks marking the "end" of the trail -- they're on the right but are just a makeshift marker that may not always be there.  The trail does actually keep going but we didn't find any better views further along the ridge.  On the way back we saw the small pile of rocks and the best vantage point was definitely in that spot out on the ridge.  When you reach the ridge on the way up it flattens out significantly for the last 0.1 miles before the vantage point.  Just keep looking to the right for a fairly large rock outcropping and you'll know you've arrived.

By: Les Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 1, 2013
You really have to pay attention to the trail. It's easy to walk right past the connectors. Saw a Timber Rattler at the Cedar Creek campsite. Really cool.

By: Bob Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 24, 2013
Very nice hike, not hard of an incline at all. Was a little sloppy on the lower end due to a number of springs wetting the trail. Have to pay attention or you will miss some turn offs from the fire road. The view at the top was simply awesome with campsite that you could sit by the fire and just enjoy the view eastward.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I really enjoyed this hike, Unfortunately I didn't catch the sharp left turn and kept going down the old logging road. You'll know you've gone to far if you've come to a white building in a clearing. the good news is that from here if you take a right ( north east) on a side trail it will put you right back on the tuscarora. take a right and you'll be heading to the overlook. Good luck!

By: Robert Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 21, 2013
A really great hike if you're looking for solitude. My buddy and I saw a total of five other hikers. As another commented, it is a very gradual incline, and a rating of 2 seems more appropriate for difficulty. Overall, the hike offers a decent distance, nice water features, outstanding solitude, pleasant camping areas at both the top and bottom, and excellent vistas. It was also noticeable that the spring weather is evolving much slower at the higher elevations. I imagine that everything will be in full bloom in the next few weeks.

Finally, it was not clear where the trail ended. Since we didn't not see a clearly defined end, we just stopped near the camp area at the ridge line.

If you're looking for some good spots to eat after the hike, head to downtown Woodstock, which is about 10 miles away. Joe's Steakhouse serves great ribs!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 5, 2013
I always seem to rate hike as GREAT, maybe that is because they are GREAT. Thanks again for an excellent recommendation. This hike was awesome. The trails are in really good shape and some recent blowdowns have already been cleared. It was a clear day and a good way to start spring. The turkeys and bluebirds were out in full force and the views to Big Schloss and over Woodstock were clear. I love the Tuscarora Trail!!!!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 29, 2013
This is not a terribly difficult hike, the climb is gradual and the trail is fairly smooth. Cedar Creek really adds to the hike and I imagine in the late spring when the Mt Laurel blooms it will really be pretty. I'm going back to check and will take the wife. The only downside is the limited parking. If this becomes a popular hike, that will be a problem. Outstanding views from the top!

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