Turk Mountain Circuit

Description: This is a strenuous 10.6 mile circuit hike with 2400 feet in elevation gain. It can be made shorter and easier by by-passing the out-and-back to the Turk Mountain summit. You will also lose about 500 feet of the E.G. If you elect to do the shorter version you will miss one of the best views in the southern part of the park. Parts of the hike include hiking along Turk Branch and Moormans River (both small streams). Turk Branch in particular can be very scenic during periods of high water. 

Google Custom Directions


Note: Google Maps often makes use of Park Fire Roads in its directions. These are closed to the public. Confirm your route with other maps! The trailhead is at the Jarman Gap parking area on the east side of Skyline Drive near Mile Post 97.





Printable/Downloadable Map

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Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files 

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users



Trail Notes: All trails are signed and blazed. There are two cabled roads at this parking area. You want to follow the one between the front of the parking lot and the Drive. This is yellow blazed Moormans River Fire Road. Follow it for 0.24 miles to the white blazed AT. Turn left onto it and begin a long gradual climb. At 0.66 miles pass through a gas line swath that offers a nice north-easterly view. Continue climbing for another 1.09 miles passing yet another view, this one to the west, before arriving at Skyline Drive. Sawmill Run Overlook is to the left. Cross the Drive at the Sawmill Ridge Overlook and climb for 0.24 miles to two small, dry campsites. One is straight ahead and the other is to the left. The trail makes a right hand turn here.


In 1.26 miles arrive at the junction of the Turk Mountain Trail. To do the full loop turn left here. You will descend into a saddle before climbing to the summit. Parts of this trail are very rocky. In 0.95 miles from the AT junction arrive at a concrete summit marker. Here you can take in a small southerly view. To take in a 180 degree view overlooking the Shenandoah valley continue to rock scramble out to the main vista.


After taking in the views retrace your steps back to the AT. Turn left onto it and in about 0.3 miles cross Skyline Drive. Enter the Turk Gap Parking area and turn right onto yellow blazed Turk Branch Trail. Initially this old woods road parallels the Drive but it soon makes a sharp left turn and descends to Moormans River. You’ll hike through sections that appear to be recovering from some sort of blight or fire, deciduous forest and groves of pine trees. Near the bottom the trail passes two old bridge abutments. Look up the side stream to the left for a potentially nice waterfall/slide. In 2.61 miles arrive at Moormans River Fire Road. It is also yellow blazed. Turn right onto it and cross both Turk Branch and Moormans River in short order. From hear the route is a gradual climb. In 2.00 miles pass the AT on the left and right. In another 0.24 miles arrive back at Jarman Gap.


Critique This Outing




Outing Critiques

Name: Jamie G                                                                                                           Hike: Turk Mountain Circuit
Date: 5/29/11                                                                                                            Rating: 4.5

Critique: This was a beautiful hike! Within the first 1/2 mile of hiking, near the Moorman's River/AT intersection, a small black bear crossed the trail in front of me and ran down the hill. I spent a lot of time singing Monty Python's Lumberjack Song to alert other bears that I was coming! There was so much blooming Mountain Laurel that I felt like I was in a garden in the middle of the woods--truly beautiful. I did this as a solo day hike on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and saw few other hikers except on the Turk Mountain spur, which was well worth the climb for the view. The main road crossings on Skyline Drive were a comfort as a solo hiker. The only thing that was slightly confusing to me was the slight descent at the very start of the trip--you go downhill gradually for a bit and come to a posted "spring" and creek area before any climbs. This is a great hike!

Name: blueridgetreks                                                                                               Hike: Turk Mountain
Date: 12/23/2008                                                                                                     Rating: 4

Critique: Started this hike around 9am with the temps around 19F but it warmed up to 29F!! I did this hike in reverse from published directions but I don't think it makes a difference either way, you'll get a great workout. The creeks were flowing really good due to recent rains making some of the crossings tricky. Not sure how the flow will be in mid-July after no rain for awhile. I forgot to pack my hiking poles. Did I mention the crossings were tricky? I lost my balance crossing Moormans River near the Turk Branch trail intersection and proceeded to soak my left foot. Trail shoe off, foot freezing, sock wrung out, and I was back on the trail in 5 minutes. The views at the top of Turk Mt were excellent so don't bypass the out and back to Turk Mt. On a warmer day I could imagine having a nice leisurely lunch at the top. I gobbled mine down quickly on the way back to the AT Intersection. I did the hike in just under 5 hrs but only because I kept going to stay warm and didn't stop for lunch. A worthwhile hike and especially pleasant today being the only one on the trail besides the company of my dog.


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