When a group of friends were looking for some camping time near D.C., I remembered some prime spots along Little Stoney Creek during our hike of the Big Schloss, Mill Mountain, and Little Stoney Creek loop. While the discussion begin as car camping, they didn’t mind the mile walk along Stoney Creek to reach the best campsite
Our group included Audrey, Dave, Bradley, & Brenna.
along the creek.
Don’t worry, our food choices were still inline with car camping.
We ended up base camping for two night giving us a free day to do a hike in the area, which ended up being Little Schloss. What was a surprise with the amount of wildflowers along the trail from a recent burn.
Here in Virginia, especially northern Virginia within the reaches of Washington D.C., the best way to avoid crowds on the popular hikes is to hike over the weekdays. So we visited the popular Buzzard Rock to break up the drive down I-81 on a Tuesday.
Being opportunistic is a good way to avoid the crowds when it comes to popular trails. It may mean getting up before sunrise, starting out late in the day, or still heading out when it’s rainy. With many of the frontcountry campgrounds still closed, certain trails are a little less crowded than normal. This included the Sherando Lake area, which is known as the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains and typically sees hundreds of campers a day.
There is nothing like having to cross a knee high stream to keep you cool on a hot and humid summer day in Virginia. Ramsey’s Draft provided exactly that as the trail cross the stream several times. While there are a couple longer backpacking loops here, we chose a moderate day hike loop that included Jerry’s Run.
It is clear how the popular peak of Big Schloss got its name, for schloss is German for castle. The peak appeared very much like one on our approach from the north on the Mill Mountain trail. It was indeed the highpoint in this popular area for backpackers, which is otherwise a monotonous green tunnel during the early parts of summer.
If you’ve read enough of these hike reports, a common theme you’ll find is that I love hiking next to running creeks, streams, and rivers. As we get into the summer in Virginia, they can also provide a perfect respite to the hot and humid weather in the form of swimming holes. So after a week of none stop rain, I was excited to go check out a hike featuring some swollen creeks and wide swimming holes.
Again I was making the good ole I-81 drive, so time for another update on the fall foliage here in Southwest Virginia. In comparison to my report last week in the Northern Park of the Shenandoah, the regions here in Southwest Virginia is reported to change earlier. For my hike, I saw plenty of yellow leaves in the process of changing while others have already fallen. There weren’t too many red and orange yet. This lead to a generally muted, but still good foliage. I would guess the peak is still to come, but soon.
Getting started can be the most difficult part about anything. Whether it is me getting these entries out there or getting back on the trail after a long layoff due to injury or other circumstances. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the hardest or most perfect, you just have to get going. On a beautiful Saturday, Katherine joined me to get back on the trail as North Mountain & Pete’s Cave between Lexington and Covington, VA next to I-64 was the perfect combination of reward and ease.
We were joined by Chris, Tori, and Kevin and their dogs on a mild and sunny Saturday. We were looking for a moderate hike and I’d say we found one. However, we did this hike in reverse of the directions given on Hiking Upwards, so we reached the Cold Mountain Saddle first. The saddle was by far the best view on the entire loop with views of the valley on both sides. Furthermore, the layerings of mountains in the distance made the scene. The rest of the trail was pretty typical Virginia summer hikes, including a lot green that shielded the route. My recommendation would to hike this loop the standard way on the Hotel trail to Cowcamp Gap shelter and then back north on the AT. Lastly, there are a couple of apple trees on this route. They should be good in a couple more weeks.