Tibbet Knob is a short, but steep, hike that leads to a beautiful, rocky outcropping that overlooks both Virginia and West Virginia. It’s considered the sister hike to Big Schloss.
After a string of eight 90-100+ degree days, we finally got a break in the heat and humidity! We picked a shorter, easier hike to celebrate the cooler weather – Tibbet Knob. We’ve found we’re doing lots of longer hikes lately – partly because we’ve simply run out of shorter hikes.
I don’t know how Tibbet Knob escaped our notice for so long, because it’s a beautiful hike. Tibbet seems to play second fiddle to its sister hike, Big Schloss – though I’m not really sure why. The views are nearly as spectacular and the crowds are much thinner. The terrain is definitely steeper and rockier, but not so much so it would scare hikers off.
We started our morning with breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Woodstock (worst/slowest service ever *and* they burned the bacon!) We finally made it to the trailhead a little after 9:00 a.m. At the very beginning, the trail passes through several lovely, primitive campsites. One even has a picnic table that someone dragged a couple tenths of a mile into the woods. The ascent starts almost immediately and follows a steady, but gradual, uphill to the first open view of the valley below. This overlook is pretty, but pales in comparison to the summit of Tibbet Knob.
From the first vista, the trail drops gently into a saddle. The footing becomes increasingly rocky from this point on. Through some sections, it’s like walking on a dry riverbed of basketball-sized stones – some smooth, some pointy. The last .8 of a mile is very steep and rocky. There are two short rock scrambles. At the first one, I abandoned my trekking poles because they were seriously getting in the way. I can telescope them shorter, but I decided it was just as well to leave them stashed along the trail to retrieve on my way down.
Shortly after the second scramble, we arrived at the summit. We stayed at the top for quite a long while. Normally, we’re not the lingering type, but the morning was so pleasant that we spent at least half an hour sitting on the rocky outcropping. It was cool and breezy. The sky was crystal clear and blue and the scent of pine trees was all around. There were several rocks to recline on, so I laid back and closed my eyes while Adam hunted for his geocache. We didn’t see another soul on the entire hike. I love having a beautiful summit all to myself.
The return trip was more downhill than uphill, so it went by quickly and we were back at the car within 45 minutes.
We had been meaning to try out Tibbet Knob for some time now, since we’ve been several times to do the Big Schloss hike, but this was our first experience on this hike. The hike takes off from Wolf Gap campground. This campground is a great area for camping and has a lot of established campsites. We always see plenty of cars in the campground and usually many of the sites are taken, but you should be able to find a spot for overnight camping. We definitely plan on doing a camping trip in the future since this site provides access to some great hiking trails.
As soon as you begin the yellow-blazed trail, you will come across several other campsites alongside the trail – one even had a picnic table near the firepit. At about .6 miles you come to a nice overlook with a decent viewpoint to the south. If you look closely, you can even see cars on the road below you. You descend from this overlook for a short distance, but then you begin your climb. At some points along the ascent, the terrain opens up to larger grassland areas. You will also pass by several blueberry bushes along the trail, which reminded us of our hikes in New England. Due to the already hot and arid summer, the blueberries were already past their peak so we weren’t able to pick any on the trail. The terrain does get quite steep towards the end of the trail. You don’t have to quite crawl up the slope, but it is almost that steep. Once you get pass the two steep areas, you are very close to the summit. The views from the top were gorgeous and I believe give you a little better view than Big Schloss, since you get a better perspective of the valley with mountains around you. To the east, you can see the side of the Big Schloss hike. There is also a primitive campsite near the top of the overlook if you wanted to camp at the top, but there is no nearby water source.
The trail does continue on from the overlook, but it just leads to SR 671 after about .7 miles. You can actually approach this hike from SR 671 for a shorter, less steep option to give you a 1.5 mile out-and-back hike. We stayed up at the top for a while to soak in the views and for me to look for a geocache. I wasn’t able to find this one, but there is an alleged geocache here:
We really enjoyed the peaceful hike for the day. We had the entire hike to ourselves on a day that was in the 70s and we even had the bonus of not having any bugs buzzing around our face. This is a great short hike that provides enough challenge to get the blood pumping and marvelous views at the top.
- Distance – 3.1 miles out-and-back. Add another .1 mile to get to your car.
- Elevation Change –830 feet
- Difficulty – 3. There are two significant climbs on this hike. The first ascent gains several hundred feet in elevation and is pretty easy. After a short, gentle series of ups and downs, the second ascent is significantly steeper/longer and includes two short rock scrambles.
- Trail Conditions – 2. The trail is extremely rocky.
- Views –4. The view are beautiful and expansive – a little more than 180 degrees of mountains and valleys.
- Waterfalls/streams –0. Non-existent.
- Wildlife – 0. The only creature we saw was a toad.
- Ease to Navigate – 4. Just follow the yellow blazes. There are no turns or trail junctions.
- Solitude – 4. Tibbet Knob is less popular than its sister hike, Big Schloss. You may see a few hikers, but you probably won’t see large groups.
Directions to trailhead:
From I-81, take exit 279. Follow Rte. 675 until it meets Route 42. Turn right on 42 and then take almost an immediate left on 675 (Wolf Gap Road). Follow Wolf Gap Road until you come to the Wolf Gap Campground (right on the Hardy County Line.) The trailhead is across the road from the campground.