|View south into Trout Run Valley|
Difficulty: Moderate, due to length and elevation gain
The Halfmoon Mountain hike is a good day loop in the Great North Mountain area that utilizes a number of trails in the area to circumnavigate Halfmoon Mountain. The rewards are a pretty stream and a great view of Trout Run Valley. I did this hike during my Wolf Gap camping trip and found it to be very enjoyable. I got the idea for this hike from Hiking Upward- it seemed like a more interesting hike than the round-trip hikes suggested on Summit Post.
My friend and I drove out from Wolf Gap to the trailhead after a cold night. The trailhead was on an unmarked gravel road in George Washington National Forest off of the Trout Run Road in West Virginia. Wolf Gap lies on the VA/WV boundary and is accessible by taking SR 675 from Edinburg in Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. We reached this trailhead by continuing down the Trout Run Road into West Virginia, passing Rockland and Perry. At the foot of Halfmoon Mountain, the road turned to the left. Soon afterward, the road reentered George Washington National Forest. After the road crossed Trout Run, we looked to the right for an unmarked gravel road. This gravel road was a couple hundred yards short of the intersection of the Trout Pond/Thorny Bottom Road. I drove up the gravel road and found the trailhead at the end of a loop in the road. The trail, actually a former fire road, was blocked by a gate and had a sign by it that read "Bucktail Trail."
We got onto the orange-blazed trail, which began by winding through some fairly young forest on the west slope of Halfmoon Mountain. After an initial gentle ascent, the Bucktail Trail began a gentle descent toward Halfmoon Run. There were views of the flat Rocky Ridge to our west and of Wildcat and Anderson Ridge to the north.
|Mountain laurel on the Bucktail Trail|
The pink-blazed German Wilson Trail was the most difficult part of this hike. The trail is fairly steep and there is a large amount of fallen trees on the trail. Thus, the trail was not only a bit hard to go up, it was occasionally a little hard to follow as well. We managed to stay on the trail and we eventually made our way up to the ridgeline and the intersection with the white-blazed Halfmoon Trail.
At this intersection, we took the spur trail to the right, which began an ascent that was gentle at first and steep at the very end that put us on the summit of Halfmoon Mountain. The remains of an old stone lookout remain at the summit, but there were no longer views there- to see the Halfmoon Mountain view, we made our way a couple yards further to a couple of rocks with an open view of the Trout Run Valley and the endless ridges of West Virginia. I found another viewpoint to the west at the very end of the trail that allowed me to see the western peak of Halfmoon Mountain and more of the endless valleys and ridges.
|The western half of Halfmoon and the valleys and ridges of West Virginia|
Although it's a bit of a long hike for just a single viewpoint, I found the hike to be an overall worthwhile one: the stream was nice, the view was excellent, and terrain that the trail passed through was fun and enjoyable to hike through.