The Buck Hollow/Mary's Rock loop in the SNP can be broken into two hikes; or done as one large loop. The Buck Hollow/Buck Ridge main portion of the hike offers much more solitude than the section from Skyline Drive up to Mary's Rock. However, both offer great scenery.
From the parking area on US211 head up the Buck Hollow Trail crossing Buck Hollow stream and in 0.2 miles come to the intersection of the Buck Ridge Trail. Stay right remaining on the blue blazed Buck Hollow Trail.
The Buck Hollow Trail climbs the valley crossing the stream several times before becoming steeper and arriving at Skyline Drive and the Hazel Mountain parking area. At this point you can either continue up to Mary's Rock or shorten the hike by 3.0 miles and turn left on the yellow blazed Hazel Mountain Trail.
Turn right on the AT following it for 0.8 miles before arriving at the junction of the Mary's Rock Lookout Trail. Turn left uphill on the Mary's Rock Lookout Trail for 0.1 miles and come to the Mary's Rock vista.
To return, retrace your steps back along the AT and down the Meadow Spring Trail to the Hazel Mountain parking area on Skyline Drive. To continue stay right through the closed gate onto the yellow blazed Hazel Mountain Trail and in 0.5 miles come to the intersection of the Buck Ridge Trail.
Go straight on the blue blazed Buck Ridge Trail as it continues downward on Buck Ridge. The last 0.5 miles of the Buck Ridge Trail is very steep on loose rock so watch your footing. Arrive back at the intersection of the Buck Hollow Trail you ascended earlier 2.5 miles from where you left the Hazel Mountain Trail.
Turn right on the Buck Ridge Trail and arrive back at US211 and the parking area in 0.2 miles.
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Reviews For The Buck Hollow Hike (5 Most Recent)
I have hiked this trail many times, but I wanted to let folks know to be careful especially in the first part of this trail near the rushing creek. Last Sunday, I and my pup "snuck up" on a sleeping bear that was barely a foot off the trail while ascending beside the creek no more than 30 minutes from the parking lot at the bottom of the hollow. The bear appeared young or maybe female, no more than 85-100lbs, and we seemed to have woken the bear up. Its hard to hear with the rushing creek so if you go through here, take a friend and chat it up! Fortunately the bear was not aggressive (just curious and probably caught off guard) as she went immediately into a tree to check us out. I stood my ground and yelled at her and she quickly ran off. But it was a terribly scary situation to have her within 10 feet of us in an instant. So note to any solo hikers, sing or do something to make some noise through this area!
Date of Hike: Monday, July 11, 2016
This was a decent hike with a great view, but it was fairly difficult. I don't mind a difficult hike, but I felt there was little reward. The view at the top of Mary's Rock was impressive, but it was the only thing to look at during the entire 9 mile hike. We finished the hike in just over 4.5 hours and followed the suggested route. This may not be the best route considering how many loose rocks are on the suggested way back down Buck Ridge. We did not see a single person on the trail east of Skyline Drive. The only life we saw on that section of trail was a groundhog, a few frogs, and some ticks. Plenty of bear scat around though! There were about 10 people on Mary's Rock even on a Monday, so we ate lunch at on the the rock outcroppings south of the Rock. I would recommend this hike only to those who don't mind a little extra work for a solid view. The stream was fairly unimpressive and did not allow for any real swimming opportunities (regardless of how cold the water was). Overall, I would say the ratings are fine, except maybe a 2 for streams and I didn't see any good campsites so I believe a 2 for camping is a bit generous. On the other hand, the trail was easy to follow and at no point did we feel we did not know where we were.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 08, 2016
The tips from Hiking Upward were great, and right on point. Buck Hollow is a very nice hike along side of the stream which was really flowing from all the recent rain. We made it from 211 parking to the top of Mary's Rock in about 3 hours with many stops along the way for pics and to rest. It's pretty steep at times but not terrible. Coming back, I would advise that Buck Ridge is very steep after what is a nice gentle grade, which lulls you into a false sense of security. Buck Ridge has what may be the greatest amount of stairs we have ever encountered. Kudos to those people who installed all of the logs and did all of the grading to form that many steps. Be advised there are massive blowdowns along Buck Ridge which have been cut through but really make it dense down in there, along with a lot of prior fire damage. The Mountain Laurel was blooming and smelled really nice. We ran into 1 person on Buck Hollow and many on Buck Ridge. We felt bad for the people just starting up Buck Ridge at 415pm, heading back to their car up on Skyline. I don't know how on earth they made it before dark, as I don't think i would ever take Buck Ridge up from 211 to start the hike to Skyline Drive. It's that steep. I would categorize it as follows: Buck Hollow for rushing streams and more shade and Buck Ridge for southern facing slopes full of Mountain Laurel, rhododendron and smaller foliage, along with some heavy blowdowns closer to Skyline. This loop gets you up to Skyline for the short spurt up to Mary's Rock. Fantastic views up there, super windy today.
Date of Hike: Friday, March 18, 2016
Been meaning to hike this for some time, but always waited for a weekday to do it as I'm not a fan of crowded trails. I got to the parking area at around 12:30pm and there were a few other cars. On weekends, it will be packed so come early. Decided to do this clockwise instead, and it was very steep shortly after turning on to the Buck Ridge trail, though there are now steps put it so the ascent/descent is not difficult as described above. I'm an avid hiker and on this part I had to take a few breaks! The uphill does not stop until you reach the top of Mary's Rock. I ran into only a couple of hikers coming out until I got to the yellow trail, then there were several groups and individuals. The view is BEAUTIFUL at Mary's Rock and worth all the effort, I promise. Here I met a fellow local from Hawaii - never would've expected that here!! - so we hiked back out together heading the other way, ending at the large Thornton Gap parking area. From there I got a short ride back to the trail at the Meadow Springs parking area (mahalos, T!) and hiked back out to my car along the Buck Hollow trail. Great hike overall any time of year.
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 06, 2015
Really enjoyed this hike. Starts on a nice forest trail next to the river, and then climbs...don't get much of a break until you get to the parking lot, so I agree with the difficulty. Like many other people, parking lot was fairly full (its very small though) but not many people to be found! My only complaint was that the blazing on the buck ridge trail was not great, and that I personally liked the buck hollow trail better (would be curious to try this as an in and out hike next time.)