One among many great hiking trail options in Shenandoah County, Virginia.
By Hope S. Philbrick
There are so many compelling hiking trail options in Shenandoah County, Virginia, that it’s hard to choose just one, if that’s all your schedule permits: The County boasts 178 miles of trails through the George Washington National Forest!
When choosing a hiking trail, many possible priorities come to mind, such as…
- A route with a view—especially while traveling, a trail that offers something unique and/or a truly memorable scenic view is most appealing
- A physical challenge, yet not so difficult that special gear is required
- A workout that will help you meet your daily step goals, yet not so time consuming that it will take the whole day to complete the route
Fortunately, my hosts also adore hiking and recommended Big Schloss. It met every consideration on the checklist.
The 2.2-mile trail climbs up Mill Mountain with some steep switchbacks. There’s a bit of an incline at the beginning but as the trail continues, steep sections are intermixed with more level stretches. The hike is rated a moderate challenge; nearly anyone of any age who is physically active could do it. (You might find yourself breathing hard at some points, just take a break then keep going.)
The Wolf Gap Recreation Area where the trail is located sits on the Virginia/West Virginia state lines. When ascending the Big Schloss Trail, views of West Virginia are on the left and Virginia is on the right. So if your goal is to hike in two states on one day, this is an easy way to check that goal off your list!
Amazing views can be savored from rock outcrops overlooking the valley. Looking out over the Virginia side, Shenandoah National Park (where I hiked last fall) is part of the third mountain sitting out at the edge of the Shenandoah Valley.
Once at the top, you can walk across a wooden bridge to Big Schloss, basically some impressive big boulders. Climb up to the flat rock on top for a 360-degree view of the area where two states meet.
Once you’ve had your fill of the views, or more likely when your schedule compels you to depart, return to your car following the same 2.2 mile route back down.
This 4.4-mile hike promises fresh air, spectacular views and an invigorating experience.
- Bring water; depending on when you hike, you may also want to bring snacks or a picnic lunch
- Bring a camera
- Wear sunscreen and bug repellent
- Take nothing and leave only footprints
- If hiking with a dog, keep it on a leash
- FYI, men’s & ladies’ rooms with composting toilets are located at the start of the trail
- Odds of Encountering Children: Possible, though we saw none during our hike. When surrounded by so many acres, quiet is easy to find
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Shenandoah County hosted a group of travel writers during a MATPRA 2017 post-FAM.