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Big Schloss - Columbia Furnace, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
4.1 mls NA
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,035 ft
George Washington National Forest
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Wolf Gap Recreation Area and parking area
The Mill mountain trail starts near campsite #9. 38.92404, -78.68949

Big Schloss is another treasure in the George Washington National Forest. Relatively easy at only 4.4 miles and 1,000 vertical feet, it's the sister hike to Tibbet Knob which heads to the south from the same parking location. Tibbet Knob has two short rock scrabbles, but a 10th of the hikers, and just as good views.

Big Schloss peak, named by German immigrants provides a wonderful view of the surrounding valleys. Make sure to bring a packed lunch because you will want to linger at the Big Schloss rock outcropping and soak in the view.

If you want to make a weekend out of it, the Wolf Gap recreation area has 9 well maintained campsites with bathroom facilities. If you have some extra hiking time consider hiking the Tibbet Knob route as well. The views are every bit as good.

Mile 0.0 - Leave the Wolf Gap Campground (near campsite #9) and start up the orange blazed Mill Mountain Trail to begin the steepest portion of the hike. The first mile has several switch backs before arriving at the ridge line of Mill Mountain.

Once getting to the ridge line, turn left and continue following the now narrower trail as it follows the ridge before arriving at the junction of the Big Schloss Trail in 1.9 miles.

Turn right onto the white blazed Big Schloss Trail for another 0.3 miles before crossing a wooden bridge that will take you to the overlook just 50 yards further along. Enjoy the view it's one of the best! To return, just retrace your route back to the Wolf gap Campground.
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Hiker Reviews For The Big Schloss Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Big Schloss hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely recommend, definitely will go back.

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

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

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

    View all 94 reviews for the Big Schloss hike
Early April - Photos - Courtesy of Julie A.
Late September - Photos courtesy of Tom H.
Late Spring
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