Signal Knob loop
Great loop hike only about 90 minutes from DC.
Relatively few stream crossings, all pretty easy. If the water level is low you won't even get your feet wet.
Uphill climb getting to Signal Knob is a good workout to get started. Once you pass the TV radio towers on your right, just ahead are a few rocks great for perching on to stop for lunch. Good views into West Virginia when the weather is clear.
I like this route counterclockwise. After you hit Signal Knob you walk along a fire road for about two miles. It's steep but downhill goes pretty fast. Going up would be both boring and hard.
Overall well-marked trail, good views, good workout.
Track (11/17/18, 10:17:19AM)
Muddy muddy muddy. I went just after a snowstorm and everything had frozen into a solid patch of ice. It was fine when I was breaking the trail but later on when I started to walk after others, it turned into a huge mud pit. Slipped and slid all the way down.
First shot going uphill was a good workout, after that it was fairly steady up and down, but nothing killer. A few small stream crossings but nothing terribly hard to navigate.
Kind of dull except for the very end coming up out of the hill. I wouldn't do this again after rain or snow, save it for a dry day.
Track (11/10/18, 10:16:38AM)
You have to walk through private property to start this trek, someone's farm. They let people use it but be mindful and polite.
Good steep uphill getting going into the mountains. Several fast-moving stream crossings. No choice but to take shoes off and wade in - water is freezing in winter but too deep and too wide to try and jump through quickly.
Overall not a bad hike, but there are other, better trails in GWNF.
Mill Mountain to Big Schloss
Great hike, lots of fun. The initial uphill goes about 2K in elevation in just under 4 miles. Steady, unrelenting elevation gain. Don't recall any stream crossings here. If there are any, they're small, so pack water in.
The whole trail goes back and forth between Virginia and West Virginia, and the culminating point is Big Schloss, a beautiful rocky peak that is probably not ideal for those afraid of heights. There's a bit of scrambling to get onto Big Schloss. Once you go over the wooden footbridge there's a small copse of trees - that's a much easier path to go through to get up onto the rocks than trying to boulder from a little ways further.
Once you get up on the ridgeline you have beautiful views in both directions. Can be windy though!