Shenandoah National Park: Bearfence Mountain Trail


My third hike of the day was a short one, with a big reward at the end.  Bearfence Mountain Trail leads to several great viewpoints, with unobstructed views of Shenandoah National Park.  The entire trail is a 1.2 mile loop, with half the hike following the Appalachian Trail.  I didn’t hike the entire loop, and my route didn’t include the AT, but I still experienced the most interesting part of Bearfence Mountain.

Trailhead signs recommend you follow the AT first, then follow Bearfence Mountain Trail for the return.  Instead of turning onto the AT, I went straight, staying on the Bearfence Mountain Trail (although I was headed in the opposite direction that the sign recommended).  My route went underneath a fallen tree…

… and quickly arrived at Bearfence Mountain’s rock scramble area.

This part of the trail requires you do a little rock climbing.  It’s nothing difficult, but it will involve your hands and feet (and occasionally your butt).

The first outcropping of rock has a nice view, but better viewpoints await.  Ahead, you can see the top of Bearfence Mountain.

The second outcropping of rock is wider, allowing room for plenty of people at once.  Find a flat rock, take a seat, and give yourself enough time to soak it all in.  Notice the blue marks on the rocks: these are the trail blazes.  You’ll need to keep a close eye out for them in order to navigate the rocks.

The views are great…

… in every direction.

The trail continues on to the top of Bearfence Mountain, then connects with the AT on the other side.  I decided to save time, by turning around and going back the way I came.  The view at the top of Bearfence Mountain couldn’t be much better than what I saw at the rock scramble area, so I don’t think I missed much.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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