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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.
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Big Schloss hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Big Schloss Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 31, 2019
Did an early afternoon trip. I was moving at a pretty good pace as the weather was cool, so it took me about an hour to get up and 45 minutes to get back down after I spent 20 - 30 minutes up top. If I hadn't needed to get home, I would have spent longer up there as it is really quite nice to relax on the rocks. I came across three pairs on the way up, a group of 6 at the top and about four more people on the way down. Having the top to yourself is quite an experience.

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

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

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

This trail is now one of my favorites!

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

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

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

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

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Early April - Photos - Courtesy of Julie A.
Late September - Photos courtesy of Tom H.
Late Spring
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Big Schloss
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