Pond Run-Racer Camp Hollow/White Rocks Loop

Description: The Pond Run/Racer Camp Hollow Loop is a strenuous 11 mile circuit hike with several stream crossings and a 1200 foot elevation gain in the first 2 miles. Total elevation gain for the entire loop is 1600 feet. You can make the hike a little longer and challenging by bypassing Racer Camp Hollow Trail and hiking up to White Rocks. This adds about 0.6 miles and a few more 100 feet of elevation gain to the outing. This and a short rock scramble pays off with nice views of Cedar Run Valley, Little North Mountain, Massanutten Mountain and, on a really clear day, the Blue Ridge of Shenandoah National Park. For a slightly shorter and somewhat easier hike with the same view go to White Rocks Circuit.

Google Custom Directions

As you start up hill you'll come to a pink or orchid farm gate on the right and a pull in for 4 cars on the left. This is where the hike starts.

The Pond Run/Tuscarora Trail is part of the Great Eastern Trail (GET).



Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map!

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File For Non-TOPO! Users



Trail Notes: From the parking area walk back down Waite's Run Rd for 1 mile, crossing the single lane bridge. Immediately turn left onto blue-blazed Pond Run/Tuscarora Tr. Proceed up and over a steep hill, descending to Pond Run. Climb steeply for about 2 more miles crossing Pond Run several times.


At the top cross a boardwalk and arrive at the junction of Halfmoon Tr. (right/yellow-blazed)and Tuscarora Tr. (left/blue-blazed). A new white blazed spur trail leads straight ahead a short distance to a rocky ledge with pitch pines which lends a nice view of Halfmoon Lookout, Long Mountain and the northernmost part of Trout Run Valley.


If you visit the vista return to the trail junction and turn right on blue blazed Tuscarora Trail (aka Three Ponds Trail on some maps). If you came up Pond Run and don’t want to visit the vista turn left on the Tuscarora Tr. Cross a couple of well-constructed boardwalks and continue on a forest road. The forest road will make a sharp right, uphill turn. Continue straight here on a blue blazed footpath.


In 1.37 miles arrive at the junction with orange blazed Mill Mt. Tr. straight ahead. hill. The previously passed forest road will be to your right behind a bearm. Turn left here to stay on the blue blazed Tuscarora Tr, a forest road at this point.


Proceed 0.6 miles past closed purple-blazed Peer Tr. on your left and yellow-blazed Little Stony Creek Trail on your right. (For backpackers, there is a great campsite just up Mill Mt. Tr. on the left side of the trail and another good one along the main trail just before Stony Creek Tr. on the right. Sugar Knob Cabin, surrounded by other tent sites and a dependable spring is a short distance down Little Stony Creek Tr.) In another 0.87 miles arrive at the junction with purple blazed Little Sluice Tr. on your right and orange blazed Racer Camp Hollow Tr. on your left.


To complete the short version of the hike, turn left onto Racer Camp Hollow Tr. Descend through the cove, crossing the stream a few times before climbing up and out onto a forest road. Continue on the forest road and in 2.45 miles from the last trail junction arrive at the pink blazed Old Mail Tr. coming in from your right.

Immediately after this intersection turn left into a wildlife clearing. Walk to the back of the clearing to pick up the continuation of the Old Mail Tr. Follow it downhill for 1.28 miles through a pleasant mix of deciduous and pine trees. Cross Cove Run, staying on the Old Mail Trail, which may be wet in spots.The Old Mail Tr. ends at the intersection of Wilson's Cove Tr, a yellow blazed forest road. Turn left and follow it back to the cars (0.49 miles).


To complete the long version of the hike, pass the afore-mentioned Racer Camp Hollow Trail and continue up the blue blazed Tuscarora Tr for another 1.29 miles. The white blazed White Rocks Spur Tr comes in sharply from the right and is easy to walk by. To make it even easier to miss the sign marking it is nailed onto a tree several yards back on the trail. A key to finding its location is to start looking to the right just as the Tuscarora starts a slight descent. Turn right and follow switchbacks down the spur trail for about 0.26 miles passing a campsite on the right. You’ll have to scramble up and over some rocks to reach the overlook.


Return to the Tuscarora Tr and turn right. In 0.51 miles arrive at the northern terminus of the Old Mail Trail. Descend for 0.95 miles and cross a woods road (Racer Camp Hollow Trail). Walk through a wildlife clearing and follow the above directions for the short version to complete your trek.

Read about our 2005 trip!

Critique this outing!



Name: Ed S.                                                                                                              Hike: Pond Run-White Rocks

Date: 05/18/14                                                                                                      Rating: 4


Critique: This was a good long hike, worthy for its good views and cascading runs.  I think the Tuscarora/Pond Run summit vista is the best vista along the loop, though White Rocks itself also gives an expansive view of the Shenandoah Valley, Massanuttens, and Blue Ridge.  Due to recent rain, the Pond Run section creek crossings were easy cold fords, with other areas of the trail becoming flood channels.  The long climb up Pond Run gave me a good workout.  The logging road section of the Tuscarora was basically a stream until the Racer Camp Hollow Trail, where the stream became a broad alluvial fan.  Pink ladyslippers were prevalent throughout the highland parts of the hike.  Waites Run was flowing very well, allowing good photographic opportunities, and it was very good the plank crossing along the Old Mail Trail was there, as fording there would be through thigh deep fast flowing water.


Fast flowing stream.



Name: MikeyLXT                                                                                                       Hike: Pond Run-White Rocks Loop
Date: 4/09-10/2011                                                                                               Rating: 5


As the weather report cleared up for this weekend I decided on Thursday to get out and go backpacking.  After all this may be the last time I get to strap on my backpack and go out in the woods for awhile.  My wife is due May 4th with our first kiddo!

I called up my buddy John Friday morning and like any great friend he was up for a last minute trip.  After a bit of research I settled in on doing a loop at White Rocks, WV.  I enjoy the Big Schloss loop so much I figured this one would be great also.  We did this hike in reverse.

The drive to the trailhead was nice and easy although it was extremely foggy over the mountains on Route 55…hints of what would be to come.  As soon as we got out of the car I had to throw on my long sleeves and I knew it was going to be a bit chillier then the forecast had showed.  While we were getting everything together  a string of horseback riders continued to pass by the parking lot.  It seems that there was a large trail riding event going on that day (they sure do a number on the trail).  Luckily for us most of them had passed by and didn’t encounter too many once we actually got on the trail.  

The long hike up to White Rocks was very enjoyable.  The gradual pitch made it very easy and didn’t affect either of us very much.  As we climbed higher and higher the fog continued to close in on us.  When we made it to White Rocks it was as if we were staring out into a snow storm.   I must come back on a clear do to see the view as I am sure it was great.  Oh well….back to the trail!  We filled up with water at the spring on Little Stony Run trail and continued on to our camp.  We had planned to stay the night at a campsite on Mill Mountain Trail about ¼ mile from the intersection with the Tuscarora Trail.  However once we got there we realized that with the lack of large trees and undergrowth to block the wind we needed to find a different location.    We ended up camping at the rocky site about 100 yards down the Tuscarora Trail.  We found a great level spot in the rear of this area with plenty of undergrowth to slow the wind.

We set up our shelter which consisted of a tarp I had just purchased for $20(what a steal!) and began collecting wet wood to attempt a fire.   It is easy to tell that this is a seldom used campsite because of the abundance of good firewood.  We barely had to go 100’ to collect all that we would need for the night and following morning.  It only took us 2 tries…1 pathetic one and 1 in which I cheated a bit by using some denatured alcohol ...hey the wood was all wet!!!  I even used my brand new $4 ikea wood stove and it worked great!  It may take a bit longer to boil water then a traditional canister but I think this is something I really enjoy using.  Once the fire died down we settled in for the night.  It did get rather chilly and if I had to do it over again I would have taken my 20 degree bag.  It never rained on us but it was extremely foggy and the mist would collect on the trees and then fall off in big droplets.

During the night all the fog blew away and when we got up it was crystal clear.  The sun even greeted us as we ate breakfast.  After packing up we continued our way down the trail.  The views were great this morning and Pond Run was crystal clear.  We got back to the car with 3 happy dogs and 2 happy backpackers.

Great hike and one ill do again.



Name: Peter                                                                                                              Hike: Pond Run-White Rocks Loop
Date: 4/2-4/3/2011                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: Did loop as prescribed. Nice views from Halfmoon Lookout and White Rocks. Plenty of water opportunities and campsites. We (13 people) did this a an overnight trip, found a great site near just up the hill from the Sugar Knob Hut. It snowed Saturday during the hike and much heavier later in the evening. Between snow showers we were able to start a nice campfire and cook a gourmet meal (filet mignon, vegetable medley, and bake potatoes). Since we had 13 people, we had plenty of "mules". The rain, snow, crazy meal, and 50 degree weather Sunday made for a unusual over-night hike. We were surprised to see two large groups of hikers that passed our campsite with the weather forecast we had for the weekend. It appeared to be a club thing as the trails had extra markers once on the Tuscarora Trail.




Name: Brandon                                                                                                          Hike: Pond Run - White Rocks Loop
Date: 4/3-4/4/2010                                                                                                Rating: 4

Critique: Well in reality the Pond Run & White Rocks sections were only half of the hike I did. Instead of using the Tuscarora Trail to connect the two (my loop was clockwise), I instead went south down the Little Sluice Mountain Trail, connected to FR92, turned onto the Big Schloss Cutoff Trail, and went north on the Mill Mtn Trail, and connected back to the Tuscarora. It was about 24 miles, with 4,600' of ascent. I had it split 10/14 miles over 2 days, camping out near Little Schloss. You get 3 grand views of 3 different valleys, but follow only 1 stream, Pond Run, at the end.

It was a busy Saturday at the Pond Run trailhead, but there's actually plenty of parking there, thankfully. I saw over a dozen people the first day, but only 2 people the second day.

If you do the Pond Run loop clockwise, so you're heading downstream, pay attention to the blue blazes at the end. Apparently the trail must climb the side of the mountain at some point, because I missed it and instead forded Waites Run, which probably isn't recommended most of the time, but I survived.



Name: Joe Gilvary                                                                                                     Hike: Pond Run-White Rocks Loop
Date: 10/04/ 2009                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: This is a great hike, for exercise, for solitude, and for the views. There aren't as many stops to view the valleys as there are on some other hikes in GWNF, but these were well worth the effort it took to reach them.

I have two quibbles with the description. The first is really with the google maps directions. They indicated that I should "stay to the right" to continue on Waites Run Road. There's nothing there to confuse a driver. It's better to follow the directions as stated in the PDF from this site, just drive 6.5 miles up Waites Run Road.

The other issue is an update on the White Rocks Spur Trail. This trail would be difficult to miss now, as the intersection with Tuscarora is obvious when a hiker reaches it. The description here led me to believe that I would find it by searching for a sign on the right near the start of the "slight decline" in Tuscarora. I ended up patrolling a downhill portion of Tuscarora several times, strolling into the trees to look for the sign wherever I thought I might be seeing a somewhat overgrown trail before I gave up in dwindling daylight.

After I walked easily some tenths of a mile, I found the white-blazed trail on the right and still had enough time to walk to the overlook.

The views of the mountains on this hike are gorgeous. I had a great day, mostly sunny with temperatures around 60° F.




Name: Keith Lehman                                                                                                            Hike: Pond Run/White Rocks Loop
Date: 4/17-19/2009                                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: I did this loop in the reverse direction from the description given on a sunny weekend in mid-April taking three days with only 3.5-4.5 miles a day. I found the trail conditions to be pretty good with very few blowdowns but a good bit of mud and some trail damage from horses. There were virtually no bugs, including no ticks. The trail was often sunny because the leaves hadn't popped yet. It would be better in mid-May and probably great in September.

The first intersection from Wilson Cove Tr. to Old Mail Trail was a little tricky. The obvious path goes down the hill following a hunter's path with orange ribbon markings. The real trail actually parallels the forest road for a few hundred feet and is easy to miss. It gets very muddy in that area. The footbridge over the creek will be the last reliable water you find until you are on the other side of the loop so fill up here. The climb to the top of the ridge is reasonably easy. There is a small spring right before you hit Tuscarora Trail but I wouldn't rely on it running year round.

The campsite at White Rocks is outstanding and there is room for two or three tents. There is also a bigger campsite at the intersection with the White Rocks Tr. and Tusc. Tr. if the one at the cliff is full.

The southeast part of the loop is a gentle amble downhill. Look for the small overlook on the right for a good view of the valley. At the intersection with Racer Camp Hollow Tr. there is a small stagnant pond but I wouldn't trust the water with all the horses using it. The hike up the forest road to Little Stony Run is the steepest climb you'll have going this direction. The spring beyond the cabin on the Stony Run Tr. is a good place to refill your water supply but you don't need to top off because water is more plentiful on the rest of the loop.

There is a crude and rocky campsite to the left just before the intersection with Mill Mt. Tr. There is a better site up Mill Mt. Tr. but it is up the hill about 1/3 mile or so.

The overlook at the intersection with Halfmoon Tr. is really nice and there is a campsite at the intersection. If you camp here, go a few hundred feet down Tusc. Tr. over a boardwalk to find a decent spring that looks like it would be reliable. If it's not, then water may be found within a mile down Tusc. Tr.

The rest of the loop is easy except the eight water crossings get progressively deeper. Don't be cocky and try to cross to the tantalizing forest road just over Waite's Run. It's running faster and is deeper than you think.

Overall, this is a varied and scenic trip. It would be best done when the leaves are out as the shade would be welcomed especially on the forest road sections. Highly recommended!




Name: Joe Tinker                                                                                                         Hike: Pond Run-Racer Camp Hollow /White Rocks Loop*

Date: 7/5/05                                                                                                             Ranking: 5


Critique: I hiked the described circuit as a 2 night backpacking trip. I parked at the gate in Wilson Cove and hiked in the reverse direction from what is described here. (Up old Mail Path to Tuscarora, down Pond Run to road). Campsites are plentiful and good. The Pond Run section of the Tuscarora Trail is VERY steep near the top of the mountain. I'm glad I was descending. The Old Mail path is a much better trail for climbing the mountain. ________________________________________

Name: Cham Green                                                                                                   Hike: Pond Run White Rocks
Date: 6/3-6/4/2006                                                                                                 Rating: 4

Critique: I used this hike description off this site for the hike. The hike was relatively easy for a two day backpack. I had no issues with the hike description which was very succinct, however, I had two issues with the hike. 1) If you have a side trail called "White Rocks" then I would suggest NOT using white as a trail marker as the white paint cannot be seen against the WHITE rocks. I only found half the trail. 2) The northern half of the pink blazed mail trail at the Racer Camp Hollow junction is completely obscured by overgrowth in June. I walked about 5 miles out of my way completely confused as to where the trail was. It was there, but lost in the woods.


VA Hikes MD Hikes WV Hikes PA Hikes Contact Us Home