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)
Great hike. Hiked with a group of 7, starting just after noon. Beginning section was a bit muddy at points, but not too bad. Staunton River was crystal clear with good flow and very inviting, even if it was still very cold. The first 3 miles or so isn't too hard of an incline, but the last mile or so was a bit tougher. A really neat tunnel of mountain laurel will be a real treat to hike thru once in full bloom in the next month. View at the top was pretty nice. I did not venture out to the Jones Cabin though, maybe next time. Hike time to the top for us was about 2.5 hours.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Very nice hike! Drove up from Chesterfield and got an early start (started the hike a little before 10am). There was one car parked in the parking area. Beautiful temperature and weather conditions made the hike that much better. We'll bring our suits and swim when it warms up, as the falls and pools looked very inviting and accessible. Rivers were flowing very nicely. We arrived at the cabin and were greeted by a very nice family that had rented it for the weekend and were gracious to let us peek inside. Very nice cabin that they reported rented for $40/night. The last mile to the Bear Church Rock overlook was pretty challenging, as it was very steep and muddy. We didn't have a problem finding the overlook. Great views. We planned on eating lunch there, but found the wind way too cold to enjoy it, so we found a little area just below the overlook that provided cover from the wind. The descent was very enjoyable, as we ran into the family from the cabin and 3 other couples. Again, very enjoyable hike that I would recommend for families and pets, as well.
Date of Hike: Sunday, February 24, 2013
First time on this trail.
Nice amount of water in the stream. Falls weren't as awsome as advertised, but very nice nonetheless. Bear sign here & there, which is always fun to see. A few more people than I normally like bumping into, but (as usual) everyone was so nice! In other words, the solitude rating may need to be knocked down a notch or two.
If anyone knows anything about the rock piles, I'd sure love to get feedback. The rock piles look to me like WBTS fortifications. Just past the falls, going north, on trail left (west). Does anyone know if there'd ever been a skirmish there? History buffs? I do know that JEB Stuart's men were all around the general vicinity during the war, which is what left me wondering if there'd been some action right there along the river near the mill.
The trail starts off generally flat slight incline. The last mile to the overlook had me breathing hard. The trail is maintained wonderfully (Kudos, to whomever!). Someone has put a lot of work into that steep slope. Real nice water bar work. Some of the best I've seen. I was impressed that there is as much top soil on the trail as I saw, so high up. In the rain, this could be a very slick walk in spots. The overlook is very pretty. Nice combo of water/stream & overlook.
The rhododendron stand toward summit is likely a site to behold in the spring. I'll have to go back & see it. I'll definitely come back to this trail.
Date of Hike: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Very enjoyable hike! Lots of water in the river from the rain and snow melt. The trail was mostly snow covered starting at Jones Mountain Trail. Saw a group of overnighters coming down, they were the only people I saw on the trail. Visited the PATC cabin. It was OK, but I would skip the visit to a man-made building and spend more time on the rock. I missed the unmarked trail to the rock and went to the top on the blue blazed trail. No open vista, but I did see some turkey tracks in the snow. Bear Church Rock was free of snow and as others have said, a great place for lunch. On the way down, I took the split to the Staunton River Trail a little higher up the mountain. It added .3 miles, but was not as steep and had less ice.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 20, 2012
This is a hidden gem of a hike. If it had not been posted on HU, I would never have known to try it. The weather was perfect for hiking, and it was truly a good workout with a great payoff of the view from the rocks. The only thing I would take issue with in the hike description is that the side trip down to the cabin was not that rewarding. It was occupied when we were there, but 0.6 miles to see it was not a great reward for adding more uphill to the overall trip. By my pedometer, the overall distance with the side trip to the cabin was just shy of 10 miles.