The hike posted here also does a short 0.6 mile out and back detour to the magnificent Jones Mountain Cabin. The cabin sits next to a stream that runs most times of the year, and is maintained and available for rent from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.
From the Graves Mill parking area on VA662 start up the yellow blazed Graves Mill Trail as is stays on the left of the Rapidan River for 0.5 miles to the intersection of the Staunton River Trail.
Turn left on the blue blazed Staunton River Trail, and in 0.5 miles look for a small side trail to a set of falls and pool. Continue along the Staunton River Trail another 1.7 miles to the intersection of the Jones Mountain Trail. Turn left on the steeper Jones Mountain Trail for 0.5 miles to the next junction, where the Jones Mountain Trail turns left, and the McDaniel Hollow Trail turns right.
Turn left staying on the Jones Mountain Trail as it winds around the mountain and passes through a canopy of Mountain Laurel before reaching an intersection where a side trail leads down to the Jones Mountain Cabin. The side trip to the cabin is 0.6 miles out and back, and well worth the extra distance.
After returning from the side hike to the cabin turn left uphill on the Jones Mountain Trail as it heads around the eastern side of the ridge for another 0.5 miles to the Bear Church Rock rock overlook. The Jones Mountain Trail continues past Bear Church Rock, so make sure not to miss the unmarked short side trail to Bear Church Rock on the right.
From high point of the hike retrace your steps back down Jones Mountain to the starting point and parking area.
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Reviews For The Bear Church Rock Hike (5 Most Recent)
We hiked this trail on an unusually hot September day. The first part of the hike was very warm, but lovely because it goes right along next to the river, and the sounds are very peaceful. Once we started to gain a little elevation, the breeze cooled us off and the temperature was more enjoyable. The hike is a good level of challenge - especially the last 3/4 mile, which is pretty consistently steep. The view at the end was beautiful and quiet - just us and a couple vultures riding the updrafts. There are some rocks you can scramble around on at the top, which was fun too. Overall, the solitude was as advertised - we only saw 3 other people the whole time. Time to hike was a good estimate as well - we left our car around 11 am and returned by 3:45 or so. We definitely recommend this hike!!
Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
My daughter and I did this hike today (a Wednesday). Solitude would be a 5 to 6 since we only saw one person at the very end of our hike. We liked the first part of the hike to the cabin where there was a rock overlook about .1 miles down the path. The rest of the hike to the cabin was quite down hill which meant a good hike back up after seeing the cabin. Not much to see at the cabin since it is locked and there are no views. We would only hike to the rock overlook and skip the hike to the cabin if we did this hike again. We saw a 5-10 bear scat piles along the upper portion, but didn't see any large animals of any kind the entire hike. There was a lot of uphill sections that made us stop for a number of breaks. The view from Bear Church Rock is very nice. We relaxed on the rock and enjoyed the breeze, view, and solitude. A nice challenging hike.
Date of Hike: Friday, June 24, 2016
This was a phenomenal hike, but it definitely made you work hard. The incline seems almost relentless for the last mile or two up to the incredible view, but it is certainly worth the trek. We didn't have a chance to make it to the cabin, though. The first part of the hike is also really cool with the rivers alongside the trail for a majority of the way. It is easy to access the water at many points where there are some swimming holes and picturesque waterfalls. Overall, the hike took just over 4.5 hours and we saw around 10 other hikers on the trail so I believe the 3 stars for solitude is appropriate. The other ratings also seem appropriate, but I would say the difficulty is closer to a five (or at least a 4.5). Also, the drive to the hike is incredibly scenic with many rolling hills, farms, and mountain views. I highly recommend this hike but make sure you are ready for a workout!
Check out my video from the hike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqw7iS8swOA&feature=youtu.be
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2016
Really enjoyed this hike, more than I did White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run Loop. It had waterfalls, a river, some boulders that the path cut through (wee!), a stream to rockhop across, several creeks to skip across, an elevation gain, a cabin, and then a mountain top view. Oh, and I saw a rattlesnake on the way back out. It was also pretty secluded, so I enjoyed the peace and quiet. Like other hikers say, I had the top to myself, but getting up that last 0.5 was a pain in the butt!!! Talk about steep! Still, totally worth it. I saw about a dozen people on the trail total.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2016
My dog and I arrived around 6:30am and were surprised to see another car pull up right after us. It turned out to be a local taking his two dogs on an early morning walk. I ended up turning this hike into a loop I'll describe below. By the time we made it back down around 11:30am, the parking area was almost full.
As usual, the directions above are great. If you want to turn this hike into a slightly longer loop, continue along Jones Mountain Trail after the Bear Church Rock overlook. After a few more miles on Jones Mountain Trail, you'll come to a concrete trail marker. Turn right and descend towards "The Sag." At the Sag, turn right and follow the fire road (Fork Mountain Road) until the Staunton River Trail begins on the right. The Staunton River Trail leads all the way back to the 662 parking area. All the trails are well marked and junctions have concrete markers providing directions and distances. In total, the hike to Bear Church Rock and the loop back down as just described is about 14 miles (including the out and back detour to the cabin). Adding the loop doesn't add much more vertical.
I found this map helpful when turning this hike into a loop. It's the map from the Hiking Upward Jones Mountain Hike that starts on Skyline Drive: