Do you want to see a view that rivals any view in the gorgeous Blue Ridge chain? Hike to Big Schloss on a clear day. It’s a semi-challenging 4.4-mile, out and back hike, but I promise you, you’ll love what awaits you.
Near Wardensville, WV, not far from Woodstock, VA, Big Schloss sits high in the George Washington National Forest on the border of Virginia and West Virginia. Meaning big “Palace” or “Castle” in German, Big Schloss is a massive outcropping that rewards hikers and campers with a stunning 360 degree view over some of the prettiest territory in Virginia and West Virginia. Be sure to bring your lunch and your dog since you’ll want to linger for a while.
The hike starts from Wolf Gap Campground, a shady, quiet place where one might consider camping for the evening rather than returning to the hustle and bustle. The first half mile is the hardest because the trail goes up fairly steeply and is rocky throughout. But after that, it levels out for a nice ramble along the ridgeline. My husband and I were fortunate to have visited before the leaves made their appearance so the views along the way were breathtaking. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures.
After the pleasant ramble along the ridge, we ascended a fairly steep white-marked trail to the right. “It’s worth it!” the hikers coming back assured us as we huffed and puffed toward the top.
We came out into the open after about 1/3 of a mile and crossed a narrow wooden bridge that connected the mountain to the palace-like outcropping. After the bridge, the trail disappeared, but we made our way through rocks and vines to reach the vast white rocks perched above the sweeping valley.
I sat there with the wind on my face and magnificence spread below. It was completely silent except for the sound of the wind in the treetops. And we were blessed to see several Peregrine Falcons circling and diving nearby.
Getting back was easy, and we treated ourselves to ice cream in Woodstock before heading home. When we return, we’ll do Tibbet’s Knob, another equally beautiful, less trafficked hike that also starts from Wolf Gap Campground. This little corner of the world is far too pretty to visit only once.