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Hiker Reviews for the Bear Church Rock Hike - 1 to 72 of 72   
Review the Bear Church Rock hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 01, 2017
Did this hike on a Sunday. Arrived at 1000 and parking lot was almost full (9-10 cars). However, saw almost no one on the trail. The views are not spectacular the ascent is mostly gradual. I agree with the other reviewers - skip the cabin (it's a cabin in the woods, no view, nothing to see). Wore trail runners, no problems. Enjoyed the workout but won't hike this again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 09, 2017
Great hike! The trail head was easy to find, and the trails are well-marked. Saw maybe 10 people during the hike. The climb to the summit was definitely a workout, but not as difficult as say, Old Rag. The summit was beautiful and a great place to enjoy lunch and a view. We did do the out and back to the cabin and enjoyed it. It would be a beautiful hike in any season! Also- if one of your important metrics is "proximity to a post-hike celebratory drink"- there's a great winery (Early Mountain Winery) and excellent brewery (Bald Top Brewing) within a ten minute drive that are well worth a visit!

By: Zendog74 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 06, 2017
Decent hike. The first .5 mile along the river is pretty crowded with people fishing and playing in the water. Once you turn up onto Staunton River Trail, the crowd disappears. The stretch from there to the turn off on Jones Mountain Trail is pretty pleasant. It is a gradual ascent and you follow the river. There are numerous little falls and pools to explore right off of the trail.

However, once you turn onto Jones Mountain Trail, it is super steep and fairly difficult. Just as you think you are getting close, you round another corner and find a set of switchbacks. The mountain laurel tunnel was the only highlight of this section. I did not go to the cabin as I've seen many cabins and was on a bit of a timeline.

Finally, you reach the view. While it is nice, there are many other nicer views in Shenandoah, and the surrounding valley area, that are much nicer and require less mileage and elevation gain to get to. You are on a point facing southeast and ALMOST get views of the valley to the west if you scramble along the rocks to the south a bit. If you did get 180 degree views looking east, south and west, my rating for this hike would definitely be higher.

By: walker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 22, 2017
Hike ends at beautiful rock outcropping. First half is gradual incline along river. Second half is steep. Definitely SKIP the side hike to the cabin.

By: Jackie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 29, 2017
I was the 5th car in the parking lot when I arrived at 9:15 on Saturday, and when I left at 12:15, there was probably 12 cars on each side of the road. The first 2.6 miles (Garmin mileage) were really great, with a barely-noticeable incline and the sounds of the river the whole way. One you turn on to Jones Mountain Trail it starts to get tough and super steep with hardly any switchbacks. It levels out again after the next turn and you head through the mountain laurel tunnel! I didn't miss the turn off but it definitely could be really easy to do, so take a look at picture 9 below beforehand just in case! I had the top to myself and it was such a nice change from all the other crowded Shenandoah hikes! I followed another post and did the spur to the cabin on the way back down -- kinda cool, but I wouldn't do it again.



I made it to the top in just under 80 minutes, and made it back down (adding on the spur) a little bit quicker (yay downhills) right around 75 minutes. There were lots of (what appeared like) day hikers heading to fish or to numerous swimming holes along the river. I didn't see anyone on my way up, and only passed one pair of men on Jones Mountain Trail on the way back down, but it definitely got crowded the closer I got to the parking lot.

Still sore 2 days later!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 15, 2017
A great day for this trek. Well-marked trails, two different rivers to walk beside (most of the way), and flowering plants just about any time we looked down. In about a month to six weeks the mt. laurel should be incredible, and there's a nearly 100-yd tunnel of it 3/4 the way up (in one of the pix at the bottom of the page). It's a calorie burner, for sure, but not wretchedly steep. Highly recommend getting to the Graves Mill parking lot before 10:00...it's not that big and fills up fast! About six cars outside the boundary when we returned ~3:00. Thanks HU for the guidance you folks rock!

By: Charluji Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 08, 2017
Really tough but awesome and fun hike! Got a great workout and the views of the Staunton River were stunning. Definitely tired out the pooch! Definitely bring snacks and lots of water. The rock was a great spot to sit, eat a quick lunch and enjoy the view.

By: David Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 23, 2017
I have been up to Bear Church many times and love the area for all the reasons expressed already. I have one caution: snakes. The rocks at the top are home to nests, and I've never been up in hot weather without stumbling across a rattler basking in the sun (especially to the right as you look out). On the path to the overlook there are extended grassy areas. These are kept regularly trimmed, but the tall grasses can also be home to snakes, like copperheads. The rule of thumb is valid: you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. But keep an eye on dogs and children.

By: David M. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 26, 2016
Did this with my wife for her first backpacking trip this weekend. Graves Mill Trail was easy going. Staunton River Trail begins a very slow accent. Fantastic water views along this stretch, with some great pools to soak in in the summer. There are a couple of established campsites on this trail (I'll get back to this in a bit). Once you get to Jones Mountain Trail...I hope you are ready for a tough, but rewarding climb. All uphill from here. We got to the intersection where the side trail goes to the cabin, and kept heading towards Bear Church Rock. For us, this was the toughest part, a quite quick ascent, and with most of the leaves haven fallen, your steps must be strategical. We made it to the summit, and oh my, what a view. Well, well worth the journey. Unfortunately for us the winds were gusting out of the NW at close to 40mph, and with temps dropping dramatically, our time spent at the top was brief. I had planned on finding the camping spot mentioned by a commenter near the summit, but couldn't find anything. I also did see that the trail did wind up past Bear Church Rock, but with it being unmarked, didn't want to push too further . With daylight running out (we left the summit at 3:45), decided to maybe camp at the cabin mentioned. There are a few flat spots here, but I'd pass on tenting here (but there is a running spring!). We decided to head back down the mountain, pretty much double timing it, and made it all the way back to the Staunton River Trail, where we found an existing campsite on the left, possibly 25 feet from the trail, and 15 ft from the river. Great spot with large rocks to sit on and/or table things you might need to start setting up camp. At this point it was almost dark, so we set up, had dinner (no fire), and retired to our tent to read. The sound of the river was fantastic. I will say that we were woken up by a random group of older day-hikers yelling at us at 7:30am that our "site was too close to the water" and "thanks for ruining things for the rest of us". Ok well, thanks dad.

If you are doing this in a day, it's gotta be a burner. Well worth the trip though. I'll say the trails are all well blazed and there are monuments in place at major intersections. The view at the top is incredible.

By: Eric H. Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 06, 2016
Definitely one of my favorite hikes at SNP. Great river/waterfall views, excellent trail quality, tough climb up the mountain, solitude, and of course beautiful views from the top. Saw only one other hiker less than a mile from the parking lot on my way down.

By: Katy W Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2016
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!!

By: S Roberts Rating: 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.

By: Shawn R. Rating: 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

By: Beth Rating: 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.

By: Joey B Rating: 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: http://www.hikingupward.com/SNP/JonesMountain/images/Map.pdf

By: AM+Michael Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
This hike was tough but fair.

Other hikers weren't kidding when they said the back stretch is all uphill. It was difficult, emotionally and physically but we ultimately made it to the top and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. Great views! Great streams! So much nature it's literally EVERYWHERE. We'd recommend, but have a few other hikes under your belt before you attempt. We consider ourselves sedentarily-in-shape, IE: standing up from chairs, sometimes several times a day. The hike was much like sitting in a chair all day, if that chair was actually a mountain and you were forced to walk to the top of it.

Bring sandwiches IF YOU DARE* (*bear)

By: Tamara Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 06, 2015
Great hike! The hike follows the Staunton River for the majority of the distance and isn't very difficult until you turn onto the Jones Mountain Trail. The last 1.2-ish miles are pretty much straight up and don't give you too much of a break. But the view at the top is completely breathtaking and well worth the work. Also, don't pass up checking the cabin. There is also a spring there where you can fill up your water bottle. Passed about 10 people on the hike and had the top to myself the entire time, so there is decent solitude.

By: Elizabeth Stalcup Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 20, 2015
My husband and I chose this walk for its steep climb because we are training to climb the Grand Canyon in late December and it did not disappoint. The last half mile is quite steep making us glad we brought trekking poles. The sun was shining all day though we walked mostly in shade because the sun angle does not reach into the ravine this time of year. We thought one of the stream crossings was challenging we had to go quite a ways off trail to find a safe place to cross and even both of us got one foot wet. But it rained all day yesterday so I think the water is not normally this high. The water in Stauton River was thundering downhill with lots of cascades, small falls and swirling pools. Awesome!! We saw two other hikers on the trail and one couple near the trailhead near dusk.  Our Trails app said the hike was 8.7 miles.

By: Ray Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 31, 2015
Though we had missed the peak for the changing leaves, this was still a gorgeous hike and a very challenging one at that. This time of year affords for great flows for the Rapidan and Staunton Rivers. Even though the rating says a 3 for solitude, I saw more hikers on this trail than on any other, with at least 20 different parties traversing up and down. I'd like to think of myself as a fairly athletic person but that final climb to the peak had me take a moment to rest. Granted, I was also weighed with an overnight pack to prepare for another trip, but I still was more fatigued than I had been on hikes such as Old Rag and the Rose River Loop.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 22, 2015
Such a great time of year in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The colors are close to peaking and the forest is magical. This hike is a feast for the senses in Autumn. The Rivers are flowing nicely and for three miles you here the sound of the water. The last mile is a workout. The one last gasp of breath and bam...the view is awe inspiring. Especially with the yellows, oranges, and dots of red on Fork Mountain straight ahead. Doubletop to the side and even a glimpse of Old Rag. You can see Old Raggedy Ann all over the Park and in so many places. I chose to visit the cabin on the way down because the .6 mile is somewhat steep down then back up. And definately worth the extra mileage. I stopped many times on the way back to appreciate what Mother Nature gives in Autumntime falling leaves, running water, and magnificent color. A must see hike. Only saw three people the entire 8.5 miles.

By: Adam Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 10, 2015
A very enjoyable hike with a little bit of everything. We varied from the description just slightly, dropping our packs at the junction of the Jones Mountain Trail and the side trail leading to the cabin and completing the ascent to the Bear Church Rock overlook blissfully unencumbered before returning for the packs and continuing down to the cabin. After visiting the cabin we then backtracked up a few hundred yards where we found an excellent campsite to the north or east of the side trail (i.e. off to the right of the side trail while ascending away from the cabin and off the left while descending to it). This site is difficult to see from the side trail but can easily accommodate 5 or 6 tents.

By: Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Nice hike...trails clearly marked and footing easy....mostly walking on soft dirt with easy footing. First portion (along rivers) very gentle terrain....good for kids etc...It rained a ton last week and the rivers are very high but still no issues hiking it.Only one stream crossing and my feet stayed dry....uphill fairly steep but not too difficult. Limited views except for the overlook noted. ....No views from the summit until the leaves fall. all trees still in full foliage and green.....Only saw two other parties. the estimated time of 4.5 hours is good.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 04, 2015
Jones Mountain and Bear Church Rock (Shenandoah National Park) Starting at the Boundary in the Graves Mill Parking Area, I completed this 13.3 mile loop hike. I followed the Rapidan River (Graves Mill) and Staunton River trails to the Fork Mountain Road. I took the road to the Sag where I picked up the Jones Mountain trail which I took to Bear Church Rock and then back to the Staunton River Trail. I got a late start (noon) hiking to the sound of continuous thunder (which luckily never materialized into rain) in 90 degree heat barely making it off the mountain in daylight. In what should have been miserable conditions I had a great time and would highly recommend this hike.

Pros: I don’t like to throw around phrases like hidden gem, but this was one of the best hikes I have done in SNP. The Rapidan and Staunton rivers were beautiful to watch transition from flowing rivers at the start to a cascading brook at the top. For the 6+ miles from the Jones Mountain trail junction to the Sag to Bear Church Rock I did not see a single person (maybe they were smart enough to not hike in these conditions). This part of the trail, while easy to follow, did have portions where it felt like you were the first person hiking them in a long time. The rock formations in and around Bear Church Rock were typical of SNP (in a good way).

Cons: SPIDERS. Seriously, there was a web across the trail every 10 feet once I was past the Bear Church Rock (Jones MTN TR) turn off. This hike also has a ton of elevation so be prepared for ~6 miles of steady (but never steep) uphill.

https://youtu.be/ITZ1VXhZAR4

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 03, 2015
Hiked a bunch in this area. This is one of our favorite places. The laurel tunnel, the walk along the river and the great view from up top. You will get your workout in with the last mile or so up and take the time to go see the cabin. Bring a set of extra shorts and sandals and soak in the river after the hike. Nice place. Please pack out some trash and enjoy.

By: vafinfan Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 15, 2015
This was our first time hiking this trail, and we picked an extremely hot day to do it! Even though the temps were in the 90s, we thoroughly enjoyed our day. The trail was well maintained and easy to follow. Since it was a weekday, (and so hot), we had no problem with crowds. Our only interactions on the entire trail were one other hiker and one bear! We're regular hikers, so we didn't find the trail to be difficult. Hiking along the rivers provided a peaceful setting, and the view from the top was spectacular! We'll definitely do this hike again in the fall when the colors are out and the temps are cooler. I was curious to know if anyone has ever made this a loop by continuing past the overlook back down to the Staunton River Trail. Not sure how long this would make the hike, or if it's possible.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 07, 2015
With snow and ice on the ground, I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out my ice traction boot attachments. It was slow going to the top, but BEAUTIFUL scenery along the run with the snow everywhere. Wow. And then from the top, the view was gorgeous. We didn't make it to the cabin as we started late in the afternoon, so I can't tell you if it's worth it. As with every hike in SNP there were many hikers, despite the snow and ice covered trails, but still nice. This would be a nice hike in any season.

By: Good ol' boys Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 06, 2015
This is a very pleasant hike (unless you ate a greasy breakfast burrito from Sheetz beforehand), and the scenery is nice. Good views of the rivers (more like creeks) along the entire way, and the overlook is peaceful. We found a great primitive campsite at a confluence of two streams (38.459895, -78.391915) on trail-right that can accommodate 4-6 small tents. We made camp here because we couldn't resist. There was a very nice (and large) firepit with plenty of deadfall lying around for fire the pyromaniac in you. Water access for filtering is right there too! This left us with a simple 1.25-1.5mi hike to the overlook. Just make sure that you have plenty of daylight at this point, and don't drink too much moonshine at the overlook or the hike back to camp in the dark can be a little daunting, especially with the ice on the trail! Like the last post said, micro-spikes would be a big help along the trail during the winter months, but isn't entirely necessary. Giving this hike 3 stars overall. 2hr commute from NOVA, the trail is well marked and maintained, the scenery is good, the campsite was very nice, but the privacy was still left to be desired (lots of day hikers). We would do this hike again.

By: Ken D Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 25, 2015
I started this hike at around 8:45 and there was only one car in the parking lot, probably somebody staying at the cabin since there was frost on the windows. The trail was pretty good until about a mile into the Staunton River Trail where it started to turn icy. And it stayed icy with few exceptions. It is hikable, especially if you can stay out of other hikers' tracks, but be prepared for some slipping and sliding. Bear Church Rock always has amazing views, but it was windy and cold so I didn't stick around for long. I continued on the Jones Mountain trail for about 1.5 miles just to see what was there (not much). There were no other tracks and most of the trail was snow so much easier going. This section had a few elevation changes, including an immediate steep ascent just past Bear Church Rock, but it also had a lot of ridge walking that was pretty flat (and pretty welcome too). I used spikes during the return hike and I'd recommend bringing them if you have them and you expect to see snow along the trail.

By: Long Beard Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 26, 2014
My wife ,son and I decided to do a day after Christmas hike to get to spend some quality time together away from the busyness of the holidays, This was the ticket, beautiful peaceful scenery , decent weather and a good lunch at the summit. The hike is a steady ascent to the top once you reach mid point. Once at the summit it is a wonderful view of a uncivilized valley ,much the way it must have looked for the native Americans that sat on the same rock thousands of years ago. We hiked to the cabin which was very cool. If you have not done this hike, put it on your list, it's a great one!

By: DCgetaway Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 08, 2014
This is a great hike if you're looking for a day-trip type of excursion from the DC area. It was a quick and easy two hour drive from DC and we did not officially enter Shenandoah National Park, so did not have to pay an entrance fee. There's a small parking lot that fits maybe 6 cars and then everyone else has to park on the side of the road. We were there on a Saturday and were pleased to find few other hikers. We occasionally passed other groups, but 95% of the time we were completely alone on the trail, which was really nice for a weekend get away!

The trail starts off as a nice nature walk by a bubbling brook. You're in an expansive forest and it's quite lovely. We didn't see any animals--only a couple of small birds. As others have said in their reviews, the last 1.2 miles are really straight uphill. They don't involve any sort of bouldering or climbing...it's just a steep and narrow path through the woods. My boyfriend and I are in good shape (regular long distance runners) and we were huffing and puffing, but it was doable--a good work out!

Once we got to the top we had a lovely 160 degree view of nearby mountains and treetops. There's flat rock on top, which is perfect for a picnic. It was quite chilly at the top, so we were glad to have an extra layer and hat/gloves in our backpack. On the way down we stopped by the cabin, which was very cool to see! I recommend going down there--it's not too far off the path.

To give you a sense of a schedule, we left DC at 8am, arrived at the trail at 10am, got to the peak just before noon, back at our car by 2:00, and then arrived back in DC by 4pm.

Definitely recommend it!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 02, 2014
I absolutely LOVED every.single.step. of this hike. It was beautiful from the bottom, to the top. I hiked it with my brother today, and we had a truly wonderful time. We got to the trailhead around 9 am, and were up at the top by 12 after a detour to the Jones Cabin for lunch. It only took about an hour and a half to get down. The trail was pretty quiet too, we maybe saw 10 people the entire time, which I appreciated. I highly recommend this hike, it's easily a favorite of mine now!

By: Johnson Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Everything about this hike was great - even the drive to the trailhead on Graves Mill was gorgeous. I hit the trail a little later in the day than I wanted (1 PM), so I made a workout of it to get back before dark. Total hike time ended up being only 3 hours, plus a 30 minute break at the summit. I encountered a total of six people all day, and everyone was very friendly. This is one of the only hikes I've been on that combines streams and summit, which was really nice as well! The Staunton River trail makes up the bulk of this hike, and it's pretty much a walk in the woods along the river. It gets a little steeper as you approach the Jones Mountain trail, but it's nothing too strenuous. After you make the turn onto that trail for the last 1.2 miles, it gets much more intense in a hurry. The scenery changes pretty quickly, too. This last section of the hike was pretty strenuous - I'd compare it to the Humpback Rock hike, but harder. In the interest of saving time, I didn't check out the cabin. The view at the top is so worth it, and you really don't get a sense of how high up you are until you reach it. The colors are beautiful right now, and there's not a speck of civilization to be seen.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 27, 2014
Took a day off in the hopes of avoiding weekend crowds and was deciding between two hikes that I've not done before. We met a few other hikers along the way and shared the vista with a couple of other folks but had some great conversation. The view from the top was amazing and well worth the effort to get there. That last 1.2 miles is pretty steep and one can feel the burn in the thighs but it was worth every step. It was an absolutely perfect day for hiking. It was about 38-40 degrees when we started out around 9am and it warmed up to a nice 72 by the time we were back at the car at 2:30. We spent about 45 minutes at the top and took a few other breaks along the way. Saw the cabin, unintentionally, as we took a wrong turn on the way back down. Note to self: always read the posts! I would highly recommend this hike for those that are in fairly decent shape.

By: Jess Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2014
I hiked Bear Church Rock a few weekends ago and I decided to go a second time to see the trail during the fall (I really loved this hike). Except this time I brought my boyfriend who loves fly fishing so we hiked as well as fished. Instead of breaking off and going up the Staunton River Trail, we hiked up the Rapidan River to try something new. It was so beautiful and well worth it. The hike is really mellow. We passed a few couples that had brought their little kids, an elderly couple enjoying the fall day, and a couple with their dog. If you decide to do the Rapidan River Trail only, I would give it a difficulty rating of 1. Definitely a hike you want to do if you're not trying to physically exert yourself. We saw two snakes (king snake and garter snake), and caught about 4 brook trout. This trail is absolutely one of my favorites and I highly recommend it to anyone because you can tailor your trip according to how difficult you want it to be/how far you want to go/etc. and still get a great experience no matter what you choose. To read more about our hike and see some pictures go here: http://appalachianhikinglove.blogspot.com/2014/10/fly-fishing-at-bear-church-rock.html

By: Amblin Man Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 04, 2014
I did this hike today with my sister and brother-in-law. This hike has a somewhat rare combination of nice water and a great vista payoff up top. The distance and difficulty are perfect for me and the weather was10 out of 10. Life is good.

By: Jess Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 14, 2014
This hike immediately became one of my favorite hikes only a few miles on the trail. The whole time you're walking along the Rapidan River and then the Staunton River until you break away to hike up to Bear Church Rock. The rivers are nonstop cascades and little falls and rapids... so beautiful. Along the river it's a gradual incline and then once you head up the trail to the summit it's much more steep and challenging. I didn't hike to see the cabin and instead headed straight for the outlook. Even though it wasnt a perfect panoramic view, it was still pretty spectacular and you can see Old Rag on a clear day. I HIGHLY recommend this hike, especially to those people who love the sound of running water and/or hikes with waterfalls/cascades/rapids. Check out my hike here: http://appalachianhikinglove.blogspot.com/2014/09/bear-church-rock.html

By: Bruce Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Hit the trail just before 7 AM and glad we did.  Parking lot was mostly empty then and completely alone all the way to Bear Church Rock where we saw the first person.  But on the way down we met nearly 20 other hikers and the parking lot was overflowing!  But definitely worth getting up early on a Saturday morning.  The entire hike is just full of nice surprises ... the water is amazing and I'm sure if you're so incline lots of good swimming.  The canopy of laurels are really cool, like going through a cave and the Bear Church Rock is great ... we had lunch (ok more like 2nd breakfast) and just enjoyed the view ... nothing but nature as far as you could see.  Did a bit of crawling around on the rocks which was nice.  Discovered that you can get below the rocks and tidied up a bit - if anyone's missing a camo ball cap let us know...and cup of Ramen...really?  The way up is really hard lots of long stretches of steep climbing - you will want to take some breaks to give your legs a rest.  We did the side trip to Jones Mountain Cabin - it's nice but I wouldn't say it's "well worth" it.  It's a long descent to the cabin, which is peaceful but not a lot to see but then an inevitable long climb back to the main trail.  There's a nice little outcrop of rocks to relax on just a short way down the path, but otherwise, I would probably skip this next time.  The way back from Bear Church Rock is literally all down hill and seems to go really fast.  We decided to take McDaniel Hollow trail to the Staunton River Trail rather than taking the hard right on Jones Mountain trail on the way back.  Looks like it adds about a half mile to the hike, but also gave us some extra variety on the way back (plus more water!).  I think it also softens the descent a bit which these old knees are grateful for.

By: moondrunk Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 10, 2014
We started at 7:30 am and there were already two cars in the small parking lot. It was full when we finished at 11:45, so I recommend going early. The first couple miles are very easy and pleasant as the trail tracks alongside the river. There are multiple swimming holes for cooling off in on a hot day (today wasn't quite warm enough). Once you turn up the Jones Mountain trail the ascent becomes quite steep, but it's not too far to the overlook from that point. This would not be a good choice for a first hike though, or for someone who is not in good shape--the grade provides a serious workout. We were impressed with how well the trail was maintained. The view from the overlook is fantastic, particularly because you can't see any signs of civilization in any direction. The descent is quite easy. Very nice hike overall, would like to do it again in the fall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 18, 2014
Great hike with a good mix of water and some pretty steep hills. Before you make the turn to head up the mountain, there are some pretty good swimming holes. The dog didn't want to jump in, surprisingly, but after feeling the water I know why - it's icy cold! Even in July. Felt great on the knees though after coming back down the steep part of the mountain. Going up is a workout for sure, but coming back down is no joke. The legs take a beating. My wife slipped once going down and landed on her duff. The rocks are loose, so paying attention on the way down is important. We only saw one other hiker who showed up at the summit just as we were getting ready to head back down. This is a great hike to take the pooches on and not really have to worry about running into dozens of people like you would on the AT this time of the year. Would definitely love to do this one again! I imagine October / November would be great up here.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 11, 2014
We did a different route: starting at Boteen Gap Parking we hiked north on the AT until we hit Laurel Prong Trail. Took that over Cat Knob to Jones Mountain trail. That intersection is where the directions for this route say to continue on Jones Mountain Trail. The Jones Mountain Trail is not too strenuous to Bear Church Rock but it does have a steep section right before the out cropping. I rate this hike 5+ for solitude- we saw two other small groups in 9 miles of hiking on a beautiful spring day. The view from Bear Church Rock was breath-taking! Might be a bit difficult for a novice hiker but the route we took included no stream crossings so that's a plus.

By: SMM Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 21, 2014
This was a great hike. Walked this trail in late April the day was perfect with full sun and mild temperature. The first portion of the hike (from the parking lot along the river) is fairly easy with a mild grade. The views of the river are wonderful and there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Once you start up the mountain the grade is not terribly challenging for an experienced hiker, but did get the heart rate up. There is a false summit that has incredible views (better than the summit really) but the true summit is a great place to stop for lunch. I went by the cabin on the way down from the summit, which was a good route. The cabin is interesting and offers more photo opportunities, along with a natural spring. Definitely recommend hitting the trail extension on the way down that extends your walk along the river. If the river is up there are some awesome rapids to view. Highly recommend this hike, novice hikers would probably be physically challenged, and I think it is great for those more experienced to get back into hiking after not being on the trails for awhile (as is through winter).

By: Colin Kreling Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Took the dog on this hike and enjoyed it a lot. There was plenty of water for her to swim in and the view at the top was awesome. Very quiet hike, only saw 3 or 4 people. The difficulty is fairly moderate at first but becomes very steep for the last mile or so.

By: Chuck Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 11, 2014
This is a great hike, backpacking, and camping location. My son and I hiked in 1.75 miles to find a flat area to set up camp on Friday. The Staunton River is right next to the trail providing spectacular views and if you like listening to rushing water to help you fall asleep, well this is the place. We hiked on Saturday up to Bear Church Rock summit. A very nice hike with more great views of the river along the way. Make sure you take the un-blazed, but highly traveled, side trail that's down from the Bear Church Rock summit to the overlook, the views are spectacular! We also hiked to the Jones Mt. Cabin to take a look, very nice, will look into staying here sometime. On the way down, take the extended section of the trail back to the Staunton River Tr. (another .5 miles) you'll be rewarded with a gentle decent and more time along the Staunton River and great views and water falls. This was a great hiking & camping weekend, one of our favorites. Highly recommended.

By: Dave Raber Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Hike this in early spring/late winter cloudy weather yesterday. What a beautiful trail. Walking along the Rapidan is great, and I hope to come back with foliage on the trees. We hiked to the summit first, and then went to visit the cabin on the way back down, which I recommend. It's a pretty tough hump up to the summit, and then also from leaving the cabin, back up to the main trail. I'm a 45 year old, fairly fit guy, and hiked this with my 17, 15, 13, 8 year old sons, who had no trouble, and also my 5 year old and 3-1/2 year old boys. The 5 year old gets drug along on lots of hikes and activities, and he made it the whole way, but it was pretty hard. My 3-1/2 year old rode on my back all the way up, but walked himself all the way down with the help of older brothers. Don't skip the cabin! It's worth it. We fortunate to encounter the PATC overseer on the trail, and he opened it up for us to look around inside. I'm glad this hike isn't as well know, as we only encountered a handful of other hikers, and that's just because we weren't all that speedy. We headed up at 10:30, and were back at the van by 4:30, including a half hour lunch break on the rock, plus cabin visit for 20-30 minutes, plus short breaks.

By: Earl Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Started the hike around noon. At this time of the day the parking area was completely full. As we made our way up the Staunton river trail we noticed that most of the trail as well as the surrounding wooded areas were covered with with snow. This made navigating the trail, which was a gradual incline, more of a feat than usual. It was beautiful! The trail followed the river and the sun was beaming off of the snow which made for a great start. As we made our way onto the blue blazed "Jones Mountain Trail" we began a much steeper incline on ice and snow. We began to see a lot of other hikers heading down from the top of the mountain saying "the top is great". We made it to the top of the mountain in roughly 3hrs. The hike was well worth the view. We pretty much ice skated the entire way down. This was a great hike and I highly recommend it. You will cross many streams while following a river for most of the hike.

By: Justin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Since Syline Drive was closed, I decided to try this not so well known SNP hike. Me and my hiking partner arrived at the trailhead at 9:45am and the parking lot was almost full. Their were probably a couple of more spaces for people to park, but it would have been a tight squeeze. It was 18 degrees when we started the hike with 2-3 inches of snow on the ground. Overall, the hike was wonderful. It was super quiet, and even though their were plenty of vehicles in the lot we met only one person on the hike. The snow was beautiful and the overlook was well worth the hike. The trudge up is slow, it took about three hours for us. But, after stopping for lunch at the overlook, it took us 1 hr and 15 minutes to make it back to our vehicle. I hope to return to hike this trail again in the spring or summer, but I have a feeling I will need to arrive around 6 or 7 in the morning to be able to park.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 20, 2014
One of the most pleasant hikes I've done recently. The rivers were flowing well with a lot of white water and the trail alongside was in good shape and easy. The turn up Jones Mountain Trail was snow covered in spots and the portion of the trail that runs under the Mountain Laurels is probably something we'll come back to see when it's time to bloom. The side trip to the cabin was well worth it (great for a snack) but the final .8 from there to the rock was the toughest part of the hike. If I bring my wife we'll probably stop at the cabin on the way down from the summit just to catch a break from the vertical. We also noted the vista just down the cabin trail and it was worth the stop for a picture. The views from the top were much better than I expected. Well worth the effort to get there. The walk back down to the car was cake. This is one of those rare trails with good water AND a great view from the top. Perfect.

By: Brent Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 27, 2013
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. Great Hike

By: D Farmer Rating: 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.

By: Rating: 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.

By: Rating: 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.

By: Rating: 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.

By: Bob Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
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.

By: Rating: 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.

By: Steve M. Rating: 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.

By: Rating: 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.

By: LarryP Rating: 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.

By: Kelly Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Overall I would say this is a great hike to be done in the late spring/early summer. We did not see any of the mountain laurel that others described, I guess it's out of season right now. Also, a lot of the tree sections had already lost leaves. The trail itself is easy to follow but quite rocky and tricky to keep your footing smooth moving at a decent pace. We started shortly after 7am and got to the top at 850. We didn't see any other people until we were about 2/3 of the way back down the trail. The view at the end was great, otherwise I would have given this a 2 because the streams and swimming pool were pretty much non existent as well. I would definitely go back at a different time of year and probably give it a higher rating. It was a great work out and I would do it again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 25, 2012
Fun hike. Went with two friends and made it a ~14 mile loop rather than an 8 mile out and back. The streams were beautiful and the overlook was fantastic a great place to jump around. After getting to the rock overlook we continued the trail rather than turning back towards the parking lot. This led to more elevation (around 3700 ft) and at mile 8.5 we came to a gravel road. Turning right we took this road downhill for approximately 1 mile and then took a trail back into the woods that had a posting for Route 662 which said was only a little over 4 more miles. Walking along a stream for the majority of the way back was nice and there was so much canopy that we stayed very cool. A few stream crossings and slippery rocks as well. The trail eventually leads to the fork in the road that you initially took a left at to go uphill. Good hike but if you do it that way the first 8 miles are all uphill so be prepared. There are some fun boulders to climb on as well if you past the overlook.

By: Sylvanus23 Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 21, 2012
This was fun. The trail going along the river provides some nice scenery, although the pool about 1/2 mile into the Staunton River trail was a bit low compared to the photo on the trail guide. It wasn't quite hot enough to warrant swimming, so it wasn't a problem. The hike up is pretty easy until you hit the Jones Mountain Trail. The tunnel of mountain laurel is pretty, and the Jones Mountain Cabin is worth checking out. The trail up to BCR is pretty strenuous and so we were well wiped out when we reached the top. Of course, the view is worth it and it's fun to explore and do a little rock scrambling at the top.

The weather was beautiful that day save for a rogue shower on our way back. No real wildlife sightings, although two of the four hikers we passed said they spotted a momma bear and cubs. Oh, and the fallen tree trunk seems to have been removed. :-)

By: Hokie Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 15, 2012
We hiked this on a grueling hot day- when the local towns reported temperatures of mid/upper 90's- and heat index temps at or above 100*... that definitely made the trip up a bear of a hike.  But when we got to the top- it was great.  The view was amazing, there was plenty of breeze to cool us off- it was very rewarding of a hike.  To boot- as others have said- it was very peaceful- we ran into 4-5 other hikers on the entire trail.

NOTE: as of 15 July, about 1/4 mile from the top there is a tree that has recently fallen and blocks the path where it's narrow on the side of the mountain.  You can definitely climb through it- but hopefully somebody with a little utility hand saw will be able to help clear the path (or the ATC that maintains the cabin if they're working up there).

By: Keda Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 08, 2012
A perfect trail for a hot day -- the creek runs along at least half of the trail so you can cool off. We only saw one group of hikers at the top although the parking lot was filled. The parking lot is very small. It fit six cars and two horse trailers. The ascent is challenging, but worth every step -- the view at the top is wonderful. Overall a great hike!

By: Gabriella Rios-Georgio Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 16, 2012
My boyfriend and I went here for my first camping experience. We came later at night on a Saturday and only one other car was in the lot...we assumed this was the guy camping out at the cabin. Wihtin the first mile of the hike there is a beaver dam on the river and a small clearing to hang out at. Further down, there is a camping site by the river (probably w/in the first 1.5 miles) and then a few sites clustered together about a half mile down from that. Probably could fit 3 tents. We hiked down the cabin detour and camped out on the rock overlook. Slightly inclined but such a beautiful view to wake up to. We did the last part of the hike to the top in the morning and it was a gorgeous lookout.

By: Susan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 09, 2012
My boyfriend and I hiked with our dog last Saturday and  we had a  great time.  He is an avid hiker and I am more of a novice.  The last 1-1.5 mile was definitely strenuous and challenging, but well worth the views at the top.  We only saw two other hikers coming back down on our way up and were the only ones at the top all night.  We camped for the night just a ways up off the trail from Bear Church Rock.

By: Kellygirl Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 28, 2012
I know I posted again...but I did this with my friend. This was his first time on this trail and he seemed to like it.  I generally do not hike in 90 degree weather but I did today.  I was just slower...not a sole on the trail...and swimming at the river was GREAT.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2012
This was a great short hike with a lot of rewarding views. The initial trail is extremely easy but the final ascent up to Bear Church Rock is a bit of a challenge. This would be good for trail running up to the steep part. As far as wildlife there were a few snakes, and a passerby mentioned he had seen bears, but I didn't see any.

By: threehikers Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Great hike with plenty of uphill challenge, beautiful river frontage, awesome view from the top of Bear Church Rock and good trail the whole way. The work being done on Jones Mtn Trail is really making a difference. This was truly a good day for a great hike! Everyone should do this!

By: A Quinn Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 20, 2012
This was a really great hike. My friend and I did it on Friday. The first part of the hike is very easy and you can take breaks to play in the river. The second part of the hike was more challenging than we had thought. It is a steady incline for an hour or so. There was not another soul out on the trail, which was really nice. Tons of wild life, lots of cool bugs and butterflies. We came across 2 ribbon snakes and one very unhappy black rat snake. The path is well marked and easy to follow. If you have not done this hike, you MUST TRY IT!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 31, 2012
What a great day for a great hike. Beware parking lot is real small and fills up quick. I arrived at the parking area at 900Am and not many spots available its mostly fishers I think because I only ran into 3 other hikers. It's a very easy course to follow. My GPS said it was 8.35 miles in 4 hours and 49 minutes with going to the shelter. Spring is here many flowers and colors will love to do again in a month when all the colors are out.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 10, 2012
I have mixed feelings with you rating this hike....THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TRAILS IN THE PARK.  Now everyone will know about it ! :)  I live right near the trail head and do this often.   My favorite times of the year are spring and winter...this hike has it all....water......climb.....and views!  Glad you liked it as much as I do!   I hike it from the boundary line....would like to try to hike it from Skyline Drive sometime.

By: Kellygirl Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 10, 2012
I forgot to add, the trail head parking lot is really small.  If I am taking people,  I carpool from Sheetz in Madison.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 11, 2012
I have actually pulled this hike three times this year so far. It is one of those hikes that endears you to nature and being outdoors. As it begins, you work your way up the Rapidan River on Graves Mill Trail. Colonial maps show this river as the Rapid Anne River, so named for Princess Anne. Over the years this has been truncated to Rapidan. You pass countless cascades and are serenaded by the babling, cool mountain waters as you hike. This portion is a multi-use trail and horses are frequently seen. Eventually you come to the Staunton River Trail which turns left and into a hollow. Following this trail you come to a wooded glade peppered with large piles of stone. One day I must find out why they are there. With the Staunton River on your right, you work your way up the hollow past even more wonderful cascades. Turning left once again on the Jones Mountain Trail you rise steeply up Jones Mountain leaving the rivers behind. The trail snakes up some very steep climbs ending in a long, spooky tunnel of large, old laurels. The trail levels off a bit here, but still climbs higher. Suddenly, you come upon a sizeable boulder and with a quick left turn, you're on Bear Church Rock with an outstanding view of the valley below. This up-and-back is now one of my favorites because of the wonderful rivers, the laurel tunnel and the great view. There always seems to be something to see that takes you mind away from the fact that you're climbing 2200 ft. Also, with the gradual climb, you have a chance to get used to the trail before the steep bit. Although I have not climbed it in Summer yet, I can imagine that the cool rivers along the trail would offer some welcome relief from the heat.

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