Although I’ve avoided heading into the mountain towns close to D.C. for much of the pandemic, I headed out to the George Washington National Forest this weekend. It was a combination of the best fall foliage in several years and my body feeling the need to try a challenging hike. I wanted to make sure I chose a trail with minimal crowds as possible and Little Schloss met all that I was looking for.
This hike offers the same breathtaking views as Big Schloss but without the crowd!
I started the hike on the purple-blazed Little Sluice Trail, which went into a steep climb almost immediately. The gorgeous views was visible at the 1 mile mark, but it was also the steepest part of the climb. I took lots breaks to catch my breath and enjoy the views. The last part of the climb is a series of switchbacks. To head to the rock scramble and the overlook, head left after the last switchback. This isn’t marked and I almost missed it even though I was paying attention to the trail split. The rock climb is steep, on loose rock, and I definitely had to pay attention to hand and foot placements.
Once I clawed my way to the overlook, I was floored by the views. I’ve not experienced such beautiful fall colors in awhile and the steep hike to this spot was well worth the effort! After the steady climb and the long break to enjoy the gorgeous views, I didn’t have any energy to push further so this was my turning point.
One of the underrated parts about this trail is the many options you have to make this as short or long as you desire. To push the additional .7 miles to make this the 5 mile out & back hike, head back to the trail split and keep going straight. The stopping point isn’t marked but it’ll be hard to miss – a large meadow surrounded by spruce trees and several camp sites.
If you still have energy to push further to complete the 13.2 mile loop, continue on the purple-blazed Little Sluice Trail. When the purple-blazed trail ends at the intersection of the blue and orange-blazed trails, make a left to follow the blue-blazed, Tuscarora Trail which will end at the intersection of the yellow-blazed Little Stony Creek Trail. Follow this trail to FDR 92 road which will be the last 2.5 miles.
I did this hike fairly late in the day – around 2 PM. During my hike, I didn’t see anyone on the trail until the very end. There was enough space at the overlook for all of us to spread out well beyond 6 feet.
While getting outside is a great way to break up the monotony most of us are experiencing during COVID, it’s still important to practice social distancing because it only takes one exposure to transmit the virus.
If you make it out here, send me a note and let me how you enjoyed the hike!