One Night Wonders: Urban Escapees, White Rocks Loop

Bust out beyond the beltway.

Washington, DC: White Rocks Loop
George Washington NF, WV

We like the Shenandoahs, but we love this: Great North Mountain sees fewer hikers and requires no permits, yet its ridges are just as blue. See them on this 10-mile circuit to a ridge-top campsite just 2.5 hours from D.C. From the trailhead off Waites Run Road, follow the gated Forest Service road .3 mile to the pink-blazed Old Mail Path. In 1 mile, turn right onto orange-blazed Racer Camp Hollow Trail and meander through thick ferns, boulder-hopping across the 6-foot-wide creek several times before reaching the Tuscarora Trail at mile 3.5. Top off your bottles (pack extra containers for camp, there’s no reliable water until midday tomorrow) and turn left, following the Tuscarora Trail’s blue blazes to the ridgeline. Hang a right onto White Rocks Lookout Trail and continue .3 mile to an outcropping offering grandstand views east: Emerald forests sweep down into the Shenandoah Valley and over the Blue Ridge. Camp here (mile 5) for a sunrise spectacle, then continue north on the Tuscarora Trail. Turn left to follow the Old Mail Path down Little Sluice Mountain to your car. Trailhead 106 miles west of DC; 39.007396, -78.592801Best season October for fall colors Permit None Contact (540) 984-4101;