Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tibbet Knob

Sunset on a ridge above Wolf Gap
3.1 miles round trip, 800 feet elevation gain
Difficulty: Moderate, due to rock scramble

Big Schloss is the best known hike in the Trout Run Valley area, a 4-mile hike that heads north from Wolf Gap. Tibbet Knob is a 3-mile hike that heads south from Wolf Gap to an equally astounding view, but is much less traveled. On a Saturday in which there were about 20 cars parked in the Wolf Gap day use lot, we only saw one other hiking party on the Tibbet Knob trail.

I did this hike on my Wolf Gap camping trip over spring break. My friend and I headed up this trail on the last morning of our trip, after surviving a cold and windy night. The trailhead is across SR 675 from the Wolf Gap parking area and is well signed. Wolf Gap is on the VA/WV line, up SR 675 from Edinburg, which itself is accessible by I-81 and US 11 in Shenandoah Valley.

We headed south along the yellow-blazed trail, which was flat for a short stretch before beginning the hike's first ascent. About a half mile away from the trailhead, the trail flattens out on a small rocky ridgetop, where moss covers the area around the trail and the trees are fairly young. The trail soon comes to a number of viewpoints: one view is directly on the trail, while a wider view is accessible on a short spur trail onto a rocky outcrop. The previous evening, I hiked up to this hill to watch the setting sun paint the ranges to the east with amazing colors. Watching Massanutten and the Blue Ridge glow reminded me how much I loved Virginia. The next morning, when I was finally doing the full Tibbet Knob hike, I could see even farther than the night before: all of Massanutten Mountain was visible and beyond that, the Blue Ridge poked out: the profile of Mary's Rock above Thornton Gap, Stony Man, Hawksbill, Blackrock, all of the peaks of the Blue Ridge down to Saddleback/Hightop could be seen. Although most of the South District peaks weren't visible, to the right of the south end of Massanutten, I could faintly see Humpback Mountain and Devil's Knob- peaks that were over 70 miles away! I was stunned by how far the view stretched here.

View east from ridge below Tibbet Knob
Continuing beyond this view, we descended a bit before beginning the ascent of Tibbet Knob itself. This trail was quite steep! The trail led us straight up the side of the mountain to two short and enjoyable rock scrambles and we were soon at the summit viewpoint. By walking out onto a couple of the different rocky ledges here, we found great views to the west and north. As Tibbet Knob lies at the south end of Trout Run Valley, we had a great view straight up Trout Run Valley, and we could see both of the peaks we had climbed in the previous two days, Big Schloss and Halfmoon Mountain. I found the sandstone atop the peak and the numerous evergreens to be especially noteworthy. I also saw two good campsites with fire rings within a stone's throw of the summit viewpoint. We enjoyed the views, the wind, and the final hike of our trip before heading down the mountain to prepare for our return to Charlottesville.

View north of Trout Run Valley from Tibbet Knob

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