Big Schloss

  • Highlights: Panoramic views
  • Distance: 4.5 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change: 978 feet
  • Trail Surface: Very rocky
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate/strenuous (rocky surface and steep climb for initial .7 miles) 
  • Trailhead Parking: Wolf Gap Recreation Area, VA state route 675
  • Website: US Forest Service and AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Woodstock Brewhouse—Seven Bender Pale Ale & Massanutten Stout

The Hike:

Big Schloss has been on out “must do” list for a while. The panoramic views are legendary. Big Schloss was named by German immigrants in the 17th century and translates to “castle”. This hike begins at the Wolf Gap Recreation Area in the George Washington National Forest. Wolf Gap is located on the Virginia-West Virginia state line and was once the site of a 1930’s African American Civilian Conservation Corps Camp.

Wolf Gap has about 10 camp sites, restrooms, and ample parking for day hikers. The hike to Big Schloss begins on the Mill Mountain Trail, located at the north end of the campground. A trailhead kiosk has maps and trail information. The trail blazes in Washington National forest resemble a lowercase letter “i” and are blazed orange for much of this hike. In late May/early June, flowering mountain laurel line sections of the trail.

The first .7 miles of this hike are steep and rocky as you climb to the top of the ridge. The trail levels out and at .9 miles there are several nice views of the Shenandoah Valley to the east. The trail continues to gradually climb as you make your way along the ridge. On your left through the trees are partial views of the Trout Run valley and West Virginia.

At 2 miles reach a trail junction. Bear right here on the white-blazed spur trail to Big Schloss. The next .25 miles are very rocky with a gradual climb. Vistas open up on all sides as you approach the summit. On the left is a wooden bridge spanning a gap in the rocks and leads to panoramic views. To the east is Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley. To the west is the Trout Run valley. 

Take time to explore the rocky summit and the amazing views. This is a great spot for lunch or a snack. Return on the white-blazed spur trail to the orange blazed Mill Mountain Trail. As an option, you can turn right here and and hike north about .5 miles for some great views of Big Schloss. To return to your vehicle, bear left on the orange-blazed trail to return to Wolf Gap. 

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Woodstock Brewhouse is located less than 30 minutes from the trailhead in nearby Woodstock VA. They have indoor and outdoor seating and a variety of in-house food options are available. The brewery has 12 taps and they serve wine from local wineries.

This was our first visit to this brewery and Kathy decided to try a flight of five beers. Her favorites included Seven Bender (7.5% ABV & 35 IBU), a pale ale brewed with American hop varieties with a smooth balance between the malt flavor and hops. North Fork Golden Pale Ale (6.5% ABV & 35 IBU) is a medium bodied pale ale brewed with mosaic hops.

Pete really liked Tipsy Squirrel (6.7% ABV & 26 IBU) a nut brown ale brewed with a generous amount of malts and a nutty finish. He also liked Massanutten Milk Stout (7.2% ABV & 40 IBU) with notes of molasses, coffee, and caramel.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.