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)
I hiked this yesterday. It was beautiful. The first 2.8 miles are very gradual with a well maintained trail. The trail is really easy to follow. This is one of the best views and mountain tops in the area. I would agree that the hike down to the Jones cabin is worth it. There is a great overlook about .1 miles down that side trip. Then the cabin itself is nestled down in the valley. It is a nice place to grab a snack or a break. The foliage was perfect up on top. I think next weekend will still give some great colors.
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 20, 2013
I hiked this trail yesterday for the first time. It is a fairly challenging hike and very secluded. We only saw a couple other hikers on this trip and they appeared to be come down from an overnight camp. The trail is very well maintained and dog friendly - we brought three! The streams are extremely nice on this hike. The only let down I had was the summit. I believe I was just expecting a more astonishing view - as I have been on several hikes in the area with breathtaking views. I think that the view rating is a little too highly rated. Otherwise, a great hike. We kept passed the peak at Bear Church Rock and turned a 8.5 mile hike into a 13 miler. A great workout! Highly recommended.
Date of Hike: Friday, August 23, 2013
78 and sunny - great day for a hike! I didn't see a single person on the way up. After lunch at the top I made a pillow out of my backpack and got in a 15 minute siesta before another hiker broke the solitude. If you do this early in the AM make sure you have something to knock away the spider webs as they are spun across the trail about every 50 feet, all the way to the top. I wasn't hot enough to need a dip in the river, however I saw several inviting swimming holes that would get used on a 90 degree day. The first 2.2 miles parallel the rivers and are flat to very gently graded up. Once you turn left away from the river it gets much steeper. Overall a great hike and probably a good first "challenging" hike since half of it is basically a stroll in the woods.
Date of Hike: Friday, July 19, 2013
It was a very hot day today---we didn't meet a single hiker on the trail (until we returned to our car). There is a nice little swimming hole just after shimmying through the two big rocks maybe 20 minutes into the hike (or so). We dipped our feet in the water there at the end of our hike. The trail up to the look-out is long and steep with no level ground (thus, the 3). I add my thanks to whomever is maintaining the trail--very nicely cared for. I would love to see the Mountain Laurel in bloom.
The outlook is magnificent---I've been to 12-15 overlooks in nearby mountains, and this is probably my favorite. 180 degrees and not a sign of anyone or anything manmade, mountains after mountains. We hiked down to the cabin. I'm not sure I'd say the cabin is "well worth the hike", but it was interesting to see a house built in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky to arrive there just as the rain started so we hung out on the porch until the rain stopped. Once we returned to our car, we met a couple headed up to spend the night in the cabin. Interesting sites: toad, centipedes, little frogs, bright orange mushrooms, white knobby mushrooms, a skink, several caterpillars, many monarch butterflies, a few raspberries. I also enjoyed the beautiful stream on the first part of the hike.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2013
This was a very nice hike. The first part of the hike goes along the river, which provides a nice soundtrack and a bit of scenery. I didn't notice any serious waterfalls, but there were some small rapids and pools. so I think you could find several good places to take a dip on a hot day. There's even one bit of rock that might serve as an impromptu water slide. It's a fairly easy hike until you start to get up away from the river, at which point the path gets somewhat steep As someone else mentioned, there's a neat tunnel of mountain laurel on the way up. I didn't take the side trial to the cabin. Once you're nearing the top, keep a close watch for the short path that splits off on the right leading to the view it would be easy to miss it and continue up the path.
I really liked the view from the rocks. You look down at the valley of the river you'd been following and the surrounding mountains. I loved this view because I didn't notice a single road or man-made structure, just nature. This natural view was augmented by the fact that I didn't see or hear any other people during the 45 minutes I was sitting out on the rocks. My only company were a few birds or prey gliding just below the rocks, held up nearly stationary on the winds blowing through the mountains. The view seemed to be about a 180-degree vista. I think you can also see Old Rag to the right off in the distance.
I started at about 3:30 pm. It took 1.5-2 hrs to climb up to the rocks, and I returned to the trailhead just before sunset. I met 6 people on the trail on the way up and saw a few more hanging out by the river. On the way back down I didn't see a soul aside from a group camping near the trail. Given that it was a beautiful 70 deg day on Memorial Day weekend, I was shocked that there weren't more people. So, in contrast to another reviewer, I think this hike deserves a pretty good rating for solitude.