Jarman Gap-Turk Mt. Loop

  • Highlights: Views, stream crossings
  • Distance: 9.7 mile loop
  • Elevation Change 2,345 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with several rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Jarman Gap parking area, Skyline Drive mile 96.4, SNP, park fee required
  • Trail Markings: blue, yellow, and white blazes, sign posts at junctions
  • Website: AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Högwaller Brewing—Grätüïtöüs Ümläüt IPA & Darklake Stout

Trail Map:

The Hike:

The popular trails in Shenandoah National Park get crowded on summer weekends. This hike is a hidden gem. It has some solitude, lots of stream crossings, and great views from the summit of Turk Mountain. A cement post near Skyline Drive marks the trailhead. Pass through the yellow posts and chain and follow the yellow-blazed South Fork Moorman’s Fire Road.

We normally don’t like fire roads; however, this was more of a trail and the numerous stream crossings made for a nice walk in the woods. The Turk Branch Trail begins a steep climb up to Turk Gap and Skyline Drive. The trail reaches a ridgeline and passes through a large mountain laurel thicket. While the mountain laurel had gone by on our hike in mid-June, we saw several deer on this trail.

Turk Mountain:

Cross Skyline Drive and join the white-blazed AT heading southbound. Bear right on the blue-blazed Turk Mountain Trails for a 2.2 mile out and back to some great views. Sections of this trail are very rocky and steep. As you near the summit, the trail turns sharply to the right. However, just to the left is a short, unmarked spur trail to a rocky outcropping with some great views to the west. Continue to follow the blue-blazes and just before the summit is another short spur trail leading to some great views to the south.

The rocky summit of Turk Mountain requires a short scramble over some large boulders. The boulders are part of a talus slope which flows partway down the mountain side. Great views abound. The Shenandoah valley opens up to the left and to the right is Skyline Drive. Follow the blue blazes back to the AT junction and bear right, following the AT southbound.

Much of this section of the AT is a rarity in Shenandoah: a rock-free dirt path. There aren’t any views on the AT—it’s just a nice sample through the Big Green Tunnel. The At crosses over Skyline Drive and passes through an old growth forest before intersecting with the yellow-blazed South Fork Moorman fire road. Turn right here to return to Jarman Gap and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Beer Pairing:

Several great breweries are located a short drive from the Rockfish Gap SNP entrance station: Basic City, Seven Arrows, and Blue Mountain. We were heading back to Charlottesville and were anxious to try Högwaller Brewing, C-ville’s newest brew-pub in the Hogwaller district of Charlottesville. 

Högwaller has 12 taps of craft beer (including a few guest taps), a full bar, and some great food options including burgers, BBQ, salads, and handhelds. Indoor and out seating is available and dogs are welcome outside. Grätüïtöüs Ümläüt (7.4% ABV) was the first beer brewed at Högwaller. This west coast-ish IPA is an awesome beer—hoppy, piney, and just the right amount of bitterness. Darklake (4% ABV) is a dry Irish stout brewed with malts from C-villes’s own Murphy & Rude. Notes of chocolate and roasted coffee make this rich, creamy stout a winner. Both beers were even better with burgers and brats. Hoppy trails! 

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