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White Rock Cliff
The view from White Rock Cliff is well worth the steep climb to it.
This 13-mile, two-state circuit offers great vistas, some steep climbs and nice campsites for a weekend outing.
High on a ridge along the Virginia/West Virginia border is a view so expansive that it’s worth every bit of driving and hiking that it takes to reach it. I had not encountered anyone on two previous outings of this circuit hike (both on good-weather weekends) in the Little Sluice Mountain part of George Washington National Forest. So, when Laurie said she wanted to go for a quiet overnight outing away from crowds, I immediately suggested the area.
At one time, dirt logging, mining and carriage roads carried a variety of vehicles and people up these creek valleys, along ridgelines and over mountain gaps. Those days are gone, but this hike makes use of some of those roads, many now little more than footpaths, to explore environs that are miles away from paved roads. In addition to the seclusion, highlights include possible abundant wildlife, a strong-flowing high-elevation spring and the grandstand view. This walk of nearly 13 miles over moderately-rugged terrain, is best done when the daylight hours are many, or as a two-day overnighter.
The forest service has created an official parking area and put a gate across Forest Service Road (FSR) 88 since the last time I did this hike, the first of a number of changes we were to find on the outing. Walking around the gate and gradually ascending, I kept looking for what I had remembered to be the very indistinct Bread Road Trail (named in the early 1800s when wagons used it to haul food to charcoal makers cutting timer and producing fuel for nearby furnaces), but it never appeared. Instead, we encountered another change – a newer and distinct road at .5 mile into the hike. The old route had ascended at more than a 30 percent grade in places, so it was nice to follow this gradually rising road to arrive on the ridgeline at 1.6 miles, but I was sorry a bit of local history had been wiped out.