Halfmoon Mountain Trail

HARD 13 reviews

Halfmoon Mountain Trail is a 10.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Wardensville, West Virginia that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and nature trips. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

10.2 miles
2,027 feet

dog friendly


nature trips

trail running




4 months ago

Just got back from an overnight with my husband and our dog from Half Moon Mountain. We had a late start on Friday evening (only two hours before sunset) and knew we had to move quickly if we didn’t want to set up camp/ find a site in the dark. We hiked the loop counter clockwise per other users recommendations. We found a camp site (one of the only sites left!) about 3.5 miles in next to a stream. We definitely weren’t alone, surrounded by about 7 other tents but it didn’t bother us. The walk there was mostly uphill, up and down quite a few steep gullies. It was hard work, but nothing horrible, considering we had 20lb packs and we also were practically jogging, trying to beat the sun. The stream worked out perfectly to replenish our water before we left the next morning to finish the loop. When we started hiking the next day, it was straight uphill from the campsite till the summit. Reached the summit in about an hour and a half from camp and had the place to ourselves. When we came down we had a portion of maybe 1.5-2 miles of VERY steep trail. I was SO GLAD we had hiked counter clockwise when I saw what I would have had to walk up if I had gone the original way of the loop. After that it leveled to a grassy, wide walkway. Wowwww that felt good on the knees after all the steep, rocky downhill. From there we continued on to pass many streams. I recommend waterproof shoes for sure. There was a tricky part at one of the stream crossings where the correct way to go didn’t even seem to have a trail, but we had used GPS so we could see we needed to keep going straight (literally almost in the stream) and then after about 5 mins the trail became clearly visible again. I’m not sure if it’s because of the amount of rain we’ve had this summer, but the blazes were very faded in a lot of sections. After all the stream crossings it was a lot of rolling hills, grassy, muddy, small rocks. Great hike overall. I agree with the other users saying this hike is more ‘hard’ than moderate because of the one, very steep and rocky section, otherwise moderate terrain and elevation. Campsites are very limited. On the summit we only spotted about 3 sites. Where we stayed, was the most plentiful. View is outstanding and a nice chilly wind comes off the summit. I would definitely do it again. Also, although we saw maybe 10 people when we camped, we only saw two other people on the trail the entire day. If solitude is your thing, this would be a good day hike. Lots of freshwater sources for backpackers and dogs!

5 months ago

If you like walking in hardwoods this is a really nice hike. There are plenty of streams for water. Took my dog who had a great time. I definitely agree with reviewer that this should be rated as hard, at least clockwise mainly d/t distance and one wicked climb up a stream in a couloir. CCW is more gradual but that 900+foot ascent in a stream bed is a hike going CW. I’ll definitely do it again. There are scenic parts with big views best seen once leaves off. The trail is very well marked and clean. It’s doable on a mountain bike if you’re fit with only 2-3 hike a bike sections (definitely bike it CCW). Unfortunately heavy rainfall has washed out a portion of trail near the bridge but it’s still easily recognizable. All in all it will be one I do with my dog often because it’s easy enough to get around while kids in school and get back to pick them up in Winchester, 45 min away.

6 months ago

This was a pleasant hike. A lot of stream crossings, and use of (very) old fire roads with a lack of erosion control makes for some rugged terrain in spots. Didn’t see anyone else on the trail, which was quite nice.

10 months ago

Nice trail to get out and stretch your legs. Not the best hike in the region but a good change of pace and with it coming in over 10 miles and more than 2000 foot of altitude gain it is more exercise that some of the "hard" hikes on this list despite being described as "moderate." I went clockwise but do not think it makes too much of a difference.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

My daughter and I are our dog hiked this trail over Labor Day weekend 2016. It was very hot out but the hike was fantastic - only saw one other person and the view was amazing! Note to fellow dog owners - dogs do NOT need to be kept on leash - per the national forest guidelines, leashes are only required in developed recreation areas and interpretive trails. This trail is neither. https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/gwj/learning/safety-ethics

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

This was a nice loop. We did it as an overnight backpacking trip, going counter clockwise around the loop. After doing it, I am glad we went in that direction. That way the hike starts off kind of bland but gets better as you go. Initially I worried that we would not have good water. However, there is good water about 3 1/2 miles in. Then nothing over Halfmoon Mt. and more than enough once down the other side and most of the way back. So, no worries.
Campsites are fairly plentiful and easy to find including some really nice ones. Up on Halfmoon Mt.
About 1/3 of the hike is on fire road. So that would be very easy. Some of the steep portions are very steep giving this a moderate rating. The view from the lookout is worth the climb.
The north side of the loop is along a stream, sometimes part of the stream with 4 or 5 crossings as the trail s turns down stream. We were able to keep our feet dry throughout.
There is a dedicated parking area at the start point.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The directions on the site are accurate but the mileage is off. My phone died on the pink blazed buck tail connector trail just after I hit 10 miles. I was still nearly 2 miles from the end of the loop.

Mileage discrepancy aside, this was a great hike. I didn't see a single person, saw deer and turkey, coyote and bobcat scat and lots of animal tracks.

The view from the lookout tower is great and well worth the 4 hours of hiking.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

We followed the same trail as outlined by Dan below. Good workout, and I would say 1400' climb on German Wilson trail piece was intense. I am not in the best physical condition and this took us 4.5 hours, the last hour of which was in the dark. Bring a canteen per person on this hike.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Halfmoon Mountain has spectacular views of Trout Run Valley, Big Schloss and Tibbet Knob as well as a great stream hike up Halfmoon Run this is another hidden gem in the Great North Mountain area. The only real challenging section is the short but steep climb up the German Wilson Trail.

I took the orange blazed forestry service (FS) road and begin our assent up the Bucktail Trail. Shortly veer left passing the pink blazed Bucktail Connector Trail on your right which you will be returning on later. Remain on the orange blazed Bucktail Trail for 2.4 miles passing several side FS roads before gently descending and arriving at a foot bridge and the junction of the purple blazed Capon Furnace Trail. This section of the trail was wide and nice for walking with rolling hills.

We did not cross the bridge over Halfmoon Run but stayed on the orange blazed Bucktail Trail for another 1.3 miles, crossing the stream five times before reaching a closed gate, clearing and the end of the Bucktail Trail.) This section was rocky and if the river is high then crossing can be hard not to get wet.

At the gate we turn right immediately passing another closed gate and heading up the pink blazed FS road. There was a side FS trail on the left in 150 yards, we passed this, and in 0.1 miles cross a small stream before the FS Road/Trail splits; we turn left heading uphill staying on the pink blazed German Wilson Trail as it climbs the ravine. The trail becomes very rocky, makes two quick switchbacks and becomes very steep for the remaining climb to the ridge and intersection of the white blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail. This climb was about 1,400 ft.

We turned right climbing the white blazed Halfmoon Lookout Spur Trail for 0.3 miles. Just before the summit the trail splits to two vantage points. We went right where the trail became very steep for 100 yards before arriving at the summit and foundation of an old lookout tower with the best view of the hike.

We return down the white blazed trail passing the pink blazed German Wilson Trail we climbed earlier and arrived at the junction of the yellow blazed Halfmoon Trail in 0.9 miles from the top. This section is not as steep as the climb up. Paths were more rocky then when we started.

We Turn right downhill on the yellow blazed Halfmoon Trail, descending the mountain for 1.1 miles until we reach a stream crossing and the intersection of the pink blazed Bucktail Connector Trail.

We did not cross the stream but turn right on the pink blazed Bucktail Connector Trail for 2.5 miles where the pink blazed trail ends at the orange blazed FS road we ascended at the beginning of the hike.

To finish we turn left downhill on the orange blazed FS road and shortly arrive back at the parking area.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This is a pretty decent work out. The trail is about 7 miles from Wolf Gap. So, it can be done with Tibbet Knob and/or Big Schloss if you are in the area. To get there follow Trout Run Rd down from the Big Schloss/Tibbet area. Around 6.5miles, you'll pass a old iron ore furnace ruin on your right. Just after this is a small bridge and few hundred yards from the bridge is the gravel road on the right to take you the trail head.

You may miss the gravel road. If you do and get to Trout Pond Rd you've gone too far. Turn around and take the first left.

The first part of the trail is pretty easy. You start on the Buck Tail Trail on a fire road. Follow the orange trail blazes. There are moderate inclines. After about 2-3miles you'll see a wooden bridge on your left. Continue on the trail following the orange blazes. You'll cross Halfmoon run a few times. Be prepared to get your feet wet. [Next time I may do this in reverse so I don't hike with wet feet til the end.]

After about 5 crossings, you're done and go up a steep hill. At the top of the hill, there are two gates. Pass the first gate, hang a right and pass the second. Follow the trail up further. Pass a small stream then immediately after the stream, veer left. You'll see a trail marker for Halfmoon & Germain Wilson trails. Follow this trail. It gets steeper. After a few switchbacks you may have a hard time seeing the trail blazes, now pink. Some of the markings have faded so you need to pay attention.

At the top of the hill the trail intersects with Halfmoon. There is cairn in the trail. The trail blaze is white. To go to the summit, hang a right and continue up for another half mile. At the summit you have great views east towards Big Schloss and Tibbets. Once you've rested, turn around and follow the white blazes, pass the German Wilson trail you previously were on.

A bit less than a mile, you'll come across the trail marker to take you back to Buck Tail Trail, about 2.5 miles. The blazes from here are yellow. Follow this trail until you get to the bottom of the hill. At the bottom of the trail splits. Hang a right and follow the pink blaze for another mile or two. This eventually connects back to the Buck Tail Trail. Hang a left here and follow the fire road back to the trail head.

10 days ago

4 months ago