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Hiker Comments for the Buck Hollow Hike - 1 to 85 of 85   
Average Rating:

By: Elissa and Zippy Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 18, 2019
The directions and details above are perfect to follow. We found the parking lot without any problems (however you do lose cell reception so be sure to screenshot the directions). The first part of the hike (Buck's Hollow) was longer than anticipated (~4 miles) but very secluded. My dog enjoyed swimming in all of the streams! The last part of the trail (Buck's Ridge) was extremely steep going down however, there are man-made steps that help you descend. Overall, a great hike and an accurate description above!

By: Greg M Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 1, 2018
This is a pretty awesome hike, but a bit easy to get lost in. As long as you follow your directions and don't miss your turn when coming down from the viewpoint, you're golden. Excellent views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 18, 2017
Great views once we reached the top! My friends and I (about ages 23-25) were going to do the shorter loop inside the SNP but decided to test our youth.

Took us about 2 hours to get to the top, with a couple of stops for our pups. Gotta say that I would up the difficulty coming from 211, I would say around a 4, as me and my friends are all athletes and this caused us to stop a couple times, not nearly as bad as Big House Mountain.

Would definitely hike this trail coming from SNP, but if you want a challenge/workout, go from 211!

PLH y'all

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 16, 2017
I hiked this as described. Interesting to have the same general route to and from the parking area, going out in a hollow and coming back on a ridge. Coming back, closer to the parking area, are the famous 600 steps. I can't imagine the work that went into constructing these. I was glad I had my two hiking poles while on them to 1) take some of the impact off my knees, and 2) help prevent slipping forward on the steps -- some steps have loose round gravel on them and my feet started to slip forward a few times. Don't go bounding down the steps. At the bottom of the steps I didn't see any blazes and it was not clear to me which way to go -- you want to go generally right along a stone waterway where soon you will soon see the blazes again. Mary's Rock is a great feature with a nice view looking down on the park's Thornton Gap Entrance Station.

By: Hobo Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 14, 2017
FOG, But still the best views on Skyline drive. I drove in on 211 and past the bottom parking area. Nobody at the 211 parking around 7:30am and still empty around 2pm. Second time doing the hike from the Thorton Gap parking lot to the Pinnacles. We got to Mary's rock around 9am and had it to ourselves. The trees from Mary's rock were still green, not much Fall color. At 2pm coming back from the Pinnacles the Mary's rock overlook was basically standing room only, about 100 people and crowded. Lots of fog between 7am and noon in valley. We were above the fog on top part of the trail the AT part. Couldn't see into the valley until about 2pm when the fog burned off. I was told by some hikers that the day before the view was completely fogged out they couldn't see anything. We did encounter lots of bugs\nats so wear some bug spray. The Meadow Spring\Buck Hollow parking was full around 2pm when we drove by. People parking on the grass. I asked a ranger once if it was legal to park in the grass beside the road. The ranger said as long as your car is completely off the road you should be ok.

By: Hobo Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 7, 2017
I did this hike from the Thorton Gap/Panorama parking lot. It was a 2 mile climb up with no flat zones but well worth the view from Mary's rock. I could feel my legs working but not too bad of a climb. Absolutely the best view in Northern Virginia, breath taking. Some breaks in the trees on the last 1/3 of the trail that provided spectacular sneak peaks. I would rate the hike as moderate from the parking lot. Other reviews said there was a lot of rock scrambling but there is only rock scrambling if you go past the overlook to the higher point of Mary's rock. From the top parking lot to Mary's rock summit is fine for kids.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 4, 2017
This is  great hike and well worth the steep climb from 211 to Skyline Drive and then from Skyline Drive to Mary's Rock.  The first part of the hike is spectacular! Beautiful fauna, rolling streams, and the sound of gently rushing water. The last half of the trip up to the parking area is steep, no doubt about it, but very doable.

The vistas on the second part of the hike, on the way to Mary's Rock itself are amazing. Today was crisp, sunny day, with no haze. Probably about 8 - 12 people at the rocks. But there's plenty of space to spread out, and it didn't seem crowded to me.

I did not enjoy the return trip (the loop) as much. Over 600 stairs, with loose gravel and rocks on each stair, made for slow going. I was very careful yet almost wiped out several times. Without hiking poles it would have been impossible to descend. Next time I will make it an out and back hike.

By: Danieamell Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 24, 2017
Ran in to a bear on the trail less than half a mile from the summit. Keep an eye out. The lack of crowds made for an otherwise great hike.

By: Jamey Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 21, 2017
One of my favorite hikes I did it in April and again in May. I went up Buck Ridge and down Buck Hollow, omitting the trip to Mary's Rock, which is overcrowded. The climb up Buck Ridge was not nearly as hard as I expected. The stairs help, and the mountain laurel, pine trees, and interesting rocks are so pretty I barely noticed the climb. Descending Buck Hollow, after the initial part near Skyline Drive, is lovely. It's like walking in a huge forest bowl, and the brook adds to the beauty. The highlight of my May hike was the azaleas and, especially, the ubiquitous profusion of blooming mountain laurel. Beautiful. It was my last training hike before heading to Canada to hike along Lake Superior, and it served me well.

By: Jamey Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 21, 2017
One of my favorite hikes I did it in April and again in May. I went up Buck Ridge and down Buck Hollow, omitting the trip to Mary's Rock, which is overcrowded. The climb up Buck Ridge was not nearly as hard as I expected. The stairs help, and the mountain laurel, pine trees, and interesting rocks are so pretty I barely noticed the climb. Descending Buck Hollow, after the initial part near Skyline Drive, is lovely. It's like walking in a huge forest bowl, and the brook adds to the beauty. The highlight of my May hike was the azaleas and, especially, the ubiquitous profusion of blooming mountain laurel. Beautiful. It was my last training hike before heading to Canada to hike along Lake Superior, and it served me well.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 15, 2017
I purposely took a day off of work to hopefully enjoy the solitude on a Monday. When I arrived at the parking area I was happy to see I was the only hiker. The Buck Hollow portion at the trail is steep but manageable. This time of year there are a lot of blooms. The trees at the very highest elevations were still budding. It was about 60 degrees when I started at 8:30 am and breezy. With not a cloud in the sky it was a gorgeous day for hiking. At Mary's Rock it was cool enough for me to don the Bernie hat. The view was spectacular and well worth the effort. The return on the Buck Ridge trail was tough on my 55 year old knees, however. Oh the steps! The trails are well maintained and I ran across a group of trail maintainers on the way up and was sure to thank them for their efforts.

By: Kyle Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 8, 2017
There are 610 steps in place at the end of the Buck Ridge Trail, where it meets back up with Hazel Mountain Trail, if anyone is wondering :P

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 15, 2017
A really pretty day-hike in Shenandoah National Park, with lots of varied terrain and killer views at the top of Mary’s Rock. Popular (read: crowds) at the top, but combining the Buck Hollow loop along with it makes up for the lack of solitude at Mary’s Rock itself. Read more about our hike and see lots of photos here:

By: RCH Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 7, 2016
Leaves have not started to change but it was enjoyable. Did not pass a sole up or down the trails until I crossed over skyline drive to Mary's Rock. Although I did come upon a bear 2/3 up the right path but I soon I made my presents known the bear took off. Took the opposite path down which was an easy hike until what appeared to to be a 1/4 mile of man made steps down which took there toll on my knees and feet. Lots of waters in the streams. Great hike!!

By: Kilandra Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 31, 2016
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!

By: Shawn R. Rating: 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.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 8, 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. 

By: aldikuma Rating: 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.

By: JC Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 6, 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.)

By: ckosm3ip Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 5, 2015
Loved all the fall leaves and that there was really no one on the trail. Ran into three people the entire loop. Mary's rock was slightly more crowded and the view was lovely! You could see for miles! Loved that Buck Hallow had small streams running next to the trail and the crossing were not bad at all. Some steep sections climbing up and descending the trail. The parking lot was small, but found it no problem as soon as we entered SNP. Overall was a great hike!

By: Stryker2128 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 31, 2015
Fantastic hike for the fall.  Brisk but not too cold.  Leaves turning many shades of red/orange/brown.  Recommend starting early.  Arrived at 7:30 am and didn't see anyone for the first hour.   Lots of wildlife include three deer that were less than 10 feet from me...oh, and one black bear!  Sunrise and views from Mary's rock were incredible.  Parking lot on 211 was full when I finished at 11:30 am.  Overall, great hike.  Would definitely do it again. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 9, 2015
Arrived at parking lot at 8:15am, only two other cars there so no problem parking.  Decided to go up the Buck Ridge trail first, and saw a bear in a tree right off the bat!  Buck Ridge was nice, very peaceful and we didn't see anyone until just about at Skyline Drive.  After that, the foot traffic was busier but not bad, even Mary's Rock wasn't that crowded, maybe ten people at any given time.  Spent almost an hour up there, eating and exploring.  Cool views to the South, too, if you bushwhack a bit.  Quiet again on the way down Buck Hollow, only passed a few people.  My dog did stir up a nest of yellow jackets in a tree stump though, so be careful of that.  Overall, a good hike that would be cool to do in winter when Skyline is closed and you might have Mary's Rock mostly to yourself.  Took us about 5.5 hours, even with the long break on top...If you didn't have to cross Skyline, this hike would easily be five stars.

By: Dukkar Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 26, 2015
Fantastic rockin' view at Mary's Rock. Did the hike as described and saw people only after crossing Skyline Drive on the way to Mary's rock. Buck Hollow Trail is beautiful with little streams it starts out with a gradual incline but quickly becomes steep. As we made our way back via Buck Ridge Trail, we thought we got lost as this trail is very flat for most of the beginning section... ...we were expecting it to start descending to get to the Buck Hollow parking lot. And then voila, the trail just drops dramatically as you descend actual stairs that just seem to plummet!!! If driving on 211 West, the parking lot is on the left just after the HeathStone school.

By: CVB Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 12, 2015
This was a good hike overall. I started out around 9:30 and was back to my car by 1:30, and I probably spent 30 minutes by Mary's Rock. The parking area (which does not require entry into the park) was half-full when I got there but I didn't see a soul anywhere along Buck Hollow/Buck Ridge. I'm thinking it might be a popular starting point for back-country camping. I did the entire hike as written out here. The Buck Hollow trail was easy to follow as you gained elevation and for the first half of it you are constantly by small streams (with some falls) if you like to hear running water while you hike. Coupled with the empty trail and I found this very peaceful. Once you cross Skyline and start the hike up to Mary's Rock, however, the trail was considerably more crowded I saw probably 40 people total (though one was a group of 20!). There is a parking lot on Skyline by the intersection and outlet of Buck Hollow and Hazel Mountain trails that was full. The view from Mary's Rock was great but it did get crowded, I only stayed so long as I talked with some thru-hikers. The loop back on Hazel Mountain/Buck Ridge was a nicely forested path that got steep fast by the end. Possibilities to swim right by the parking area, if you are interested!

By: Ken D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 30, 2015
Did the hike as described. The first leg up to Skyline was tough in places...not much to see but probably better in the fall. Got lucky on Mary's Rock with clouds covering Thornton's Gap...spectacular and unexpected view. Buck Ridge was a nice walk. Very steep in places, and the last downhill was hundreds of log steps on a very steep grade. Very impressive and kudos to the trail crews who put that together. Flowers were blooming everywhere on the Buck Ridge Trail.

By: Appalachian Love Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 7, 2015
Two friends and I decided to hike up to Mary's Rock. Originally we were going to do the whole trail but last minute we decided to start on Skyline Drive. I'm so happy that we did because we were not prepared to hike on snow/ice- which the trail is covered in. I was alright in my hiking boots but there were definitely some sections that I was slipping on. The view was amazing even in the winter but the wind was cutting. To read more and to see some pictures visit my review here:

By: A K the Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 18, 2014
What a nice hike! Thoroughly enjoyed this hike, with a friend and my dog. We only went up and down Buck Hollow Trail, and did not go up to Skyline Drive. I still thought it was worth the hour-and-a-half drive it took to get there. The stream was beautiful and cool, and my pup and I played in it like little kids.Thank goodness we ran into just one other group, and they were ahead of us on the way down by just a few yards, as it was they who spotted quite a surprise: a mama bear and her two cubs! It was very cool, and we stayed back and let her have her space with her babies. She soon came down from the tree all three of them had climbed pretty quickly upon hearing us humans turn the corner right up on them. I backed off quickly due to having the dog. No worries, and we gave her plenty of time to get her family away from us before we carried on. It was a wonderful sight! :))). This occurred at the beginning of the lower third of Buck Hollow Trail, heading down towards Rt. 211.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 17, 2014
Did this hike Clockwise...Buck Ridge first...nice views...

Marys Rock is actually one Rock...the one above the AT...before the cutoff'll see it ascending if you do Marys Rock on the AT from Meadow Spring...but you have to do a little work to get there...nobody does it...there is a trail below the scramble...use can get there...just do it...

Met a hiking buddy at the Meadow Spring the first switchback just across Skyline Drive...a Bear...after a minute or so he/she proceeded up the trail and I politely let him/her get a five minute head start...never saw the bear again...BUT...ran across a thru hiker who saw another bear on the AT just below Marys Rock...

Buck Hollow on the way back was nice...typical walk in the woods...with a stream...

Glad to get the RIdge first...tough at the beginning but a nice ascent...

By: Justin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 5, 2014
Did this hike on a beautiful and unusually cooler July day. Got to the parking lot around 11 am and their were a couple of spots still open even on a holiday weekend. The hike was as expected. The hike up to Skyline Drive is consistently heading up hill and we met very few people on this portion of the trail. Once at Skyline Drive, you have to cross the road to get to the other part of the trail. Be careful though, you have to cross the road with a blind spot on your left. The hike to the vista was great, and was one of the better views I have seen in Shenandoah. The hike back was interesting. The trail you take back to your vehicle was pretty grown up by Shenandoah standards. You can tell it does not get alot of foot traffic. As others have said, the final .5 of the trail is very steep. Overall, a great trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 26, 2014
I definitely enjoyed this hike. Spring flowers and leaves are making their way up from the hollow, and it's still early enough that you can see a big difference from lower to higher elevation. Great hike through the hollow on the way up, the stream was full and roaring.

It was a bit shocking to go from a trail with very few other people on it to the Mary's Rock trail which had a steady stream of people in both directions. The final overlook was pretty crowded... I can't say I enjoy getting to the end of a hike and hearing loud discussions of peoples' coworkers' marital problems. Oh well.

The trail back down the ridge is great, very well maintained with a few surprise breaks in the trees to see some nearby hills. The last descent is, as previous reviews noted, pretty steep. The stairs are nice but there are a lot of them.

Overall, excellent hike except for the disparate levels of solitude on different sections.

By: Tumbleweed Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
We hiked this trail in 4" of snow and in 10 degree (at the base) weather. A pretty decent hike. Once we got to Mary's Rock the wind was gusting and our sweat turned to ice very quickly. Took one photo from the outlook and headed back down. We saw a mother bear and her cub! We completed the entire hike in 3 hours 15 minutes. We will definately do this one again in the Spring. It's a good workout hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Best time of the year to do this hike for sure! Totally underestimated by the reviewers. I did this trail in reverse. Loved the the climb...... the ridge hiking was beautiful....beautiful forests...well maintained trail...summit was crossings! What more can you ask from a hike?

By: Nini Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 2, 2013
I really liked the first 5-7 miles of this hike. We had some nice, challenging uphills, and the vista at the summit was truly phenomenal. With that said, the last .5-1 mile of this hike was a bit scary. Because of bad timing, my husband and I ended up hiking the treacherous, steep descent after the sun set. It was covered with leaves, loose rocks, and wood stairs, which all made returning to the parking area particularly difficult. Thankfully there were no twisted ankles, but I think we would have fared much worse without our hiking poles. So, although this was mostly a fun, beautiful hike, especially in the fall, I would make sure to leave ample time to complete the loop before the sun goes down, and for pete's sake, BRING YOUR HIKING POLES FOR THE LAST DESCENT.

By: James C Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 26, 2013
Meant to hike the whole Buck Hollow to Mary's Rock trail. Ended up lost based off of the GPS coordinates. Look for the Rainbow Market barn-like structure on the left hand side if coming from the DC area. Trailhead is a half-mile tops on the left.

Even if you start from Skyline drive it is definitely a pleasant hike. We had colder than average temps for October and layered up. Shed a few layers on the way up. Awesome outcropping of rocks at the overlook and super picturesque at the overlook. Bring a lunch and there are some geo-caches up in the outcropping if you are into that.

Hike upward, JC

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Did this with my two two teenagers. It was hot and muggy and that first couple of miles was almost like a rain forest. Everything was humid and damp and there was no breeze. The hike is comfortable. It's a steady climb to Skyline Dr. About 1/2 way up we met a young couple coming down. In stopping to chat for a second I realized they were lost. They thought they were on a short pleasant stroll from Skyline Dr and instead were 1.5 miles into a strenuous hike on the wrong trail. I pulled out a topo map, showed them where they were, and reviewed their options. They chose to continue down and come back up Buck Ridge trail. Mary's Rock was crowded, as you would expect on a holiday weekend. The hike back down Buck's Ridge was uneventful. We passed the couple from the other side near the top. The first two miles are fairly flat, then it gets steep. That 1/2 mile of stairs is a killer though. My knees and ankles were in full revolt at the bottom. As we exited the stairs there was thunder booming and the sky was getting dark. We were in the car barely 60 seconds when the rain started.

By: Aaron Bagby Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 12, 2013
A nice, challenging hike with a good amount of elevation and no crowds before you hit the AT. This one is a bit hard on your knees, so a hiking staff or poles might be a good idea. There was a few reliable water sources before you hit the fork, which was nice to cool off in afterwards.

One thing that definitely stands out is how well-maintained this trail is. The attention to detail and craftsmanship stands out and makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Thanks to the trail crew for such great work and HU for providing such great resources as always.

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
This hike was enjoyable but not particularly notable. I found the parking area easily and as I pulled in there were dozens of butterflies fluttering around. The beginning of the hike had numerous stream crossings, which were all swollen by several inches of rain over the previous few days. I still managed to cross them all easily enough, without getting my feet wet. The Buck Hollow trail has a steady incline essentially all the way to Skyline Drive. I didn't see a single person on this first part of the hike. After crossing Skyline Drive, I came across about two dozen people at various points. The view at Mary's Rock is spectacular and made the hike worth the trip. It was also extremely windy when I got there, which is something I hadn't expected from the calm air on the rest of the hike. I had lunch up there, enjoyed the view and took a few photographs.

The hike back down was interesting. I was expecting a steady decline, since the way up had a steady and gradual incline. However, the Buck Ridge trail (as you might expect from the name) is largely flat with some areas with slight declines. It was enjoyable and had several areas with flowers and some campsites. At the very end of this trail, you come to one of the longest sets of stairs on a trail I've personally seen. There must be several hundred, taking you down the side of the mountain very quickly. I can only imagine what a pain they were to construct. It's at this point you come back to the streams and the intersection with the Buck Hollow trail.

If the option was there, I'd likely rate this a 3.5 star hike.

By: David Dickerson Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 20, 2013
We did only the Mary's rock part of this hike yesterday. Temps were great, low clouds kept things cool but sticky. We parked at Meadow Springs lot at the top of the Buck Hollow trail convergence. The hike up from the parking lot is a moderate one, mostly wooded, not too many striking features but a nice walk in the woods. Reaching the summit was cool as you come out from behind the rocks at the top and to your left you are met with the tremendous Shenandoah Valley view. I like that as it's kind of like coming out from behind the curtain, you don't really get a sneak peak until you step out. This hike was fine for people in average shape and for younger children.

By: k&j Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Hiked this as described on Hiking Upward with my Golden Retriever on Thanksgiving Day. Surprisingly, there were several other hikers on the trails. This hike was definitely a challenge. By the time we got up to Skyline, I didn't think I would do the Mary's Rock trail, but we rested and were good for time, so we headed up to the overlook - great view and worth the relatively short incline. We rested again at Skyline before heading back down Buck Ridge. The end of this trail is murder - it is ridiculously steep, even with the "steps." It was very hard on my knees. I don't think it would be any easier going up. Next time I would just go back down Buck Hollow. My dog loved this trail - he especially enjoyed wading in the streams at the beginning/end of the loop. He was asleep in the back seat of the car before we even pulled out of the parking lot.

By: D. Farmer Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 11, 2012
I chose this hike primarily for the location. Buck Hollow is an excellent hike for several different reasons. First, being early November, most, if not all, of the leaves have fallen to the ground and the view at the summit is breathtaking. This particular day the weather peaked at roughly 70 degrees F. Secondly, the trail is very well manicured and marked. Third, it is diverse! There are streams, great views, solitude (it was a holiday weekend and we only saw a few hikers the entire time.) And lastly, it is challenging. By the time you reach the Summit you have experienced a great deal of exercise.

Tips: Once you get to the road at the top of Buck Hollow Hike (where the parking lot is located), you can cross the street and continue upward to the Summit. If time isn't permitting (as in this case because of the shorter days), you can see an excellent view where this trail connects to the AT if you take a slight left instead of continuing right to Mary's. The view is amazing! Also, we took our dog - This trail is definitely dog friendly!

We saw some bear scat. So, there are definitely some furry beasts roaming this trail. No sights of any actually bear though.

Enjoy! It's a great hike!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 9, 2012
Mary's Rock is always one of my favorite hikes. When we left at 0830 this morning it was chilly, about 36 degrees. When we topped Mary's Rock it was 22 degrees but Sunny. We spent about 45 min on top enjoying the magnificent views. The trails are in great shape, all recent blowdowns have been cleared. It even looked like someone shoveled the snow off the trail. I definitely agree this is a 4 in difficulty, I wore my heart rate monitor and it said I burned 3900 calories. I do not know who maintains the Buck Ridge Trail, but THANK YOU!!!! The stairs downhill are awesome.

By: Bob R Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 22, 2012
It was a beautiful day and the foliage was marvelous, though a little past peak.  Lunch at Mary's Rock included a very colorful panorama.   We chose the counterclockwise route...the hike up on the Buck Hollow trail was fine, as well as much of the way down the Buck Ridge trail.  Part way down the ridge trail, a hiker coming up told us he had seen a bear near the trail.  We continued down, but with much more caution.  No bear.  The several hundred stair steps at the bottom were a surprise.  The next time we will try going up these stairs early in hike, rather than going down them at the end of the hike. 

By: threehikers Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 25, 2012
We did the hike clockwise....up the steps on the ridge trail with steps and down the hollow trail. Only did the 6 mile round trip to Skyline Drive but it was a very nice hike with plenty of challenge on the up hill. We saw several other hikers and enjoyed the day, the forest, the wild flowers and just being out on a warm spring day. Two runners reported a bear and cubs on the hollow trail in the morning and they turned around and came up the ridge trail instead. The clockwise route seems like a better way with all the steps...easier to go up than down!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 5, 2012  7 of us braved the weather last night hoping to see a sunset on Mary's Rock. Alas it was just too cloudy.  However it was still a wonderful hike. 

We reversed HUs directions and went u Buck Ridge.  About 45 minutes into the hike (past the stairs) we saw some beautiful Pink Lady's Slippers also called Moccasin Flower.  They are beautiful round-leaf orchids.  As we headed back down Buck Hollow the skys opened up and we were soaked by the time we returned to our cars.  No lightening and it was hot enough still that the drenching actually felt good.  On the way back to DC we did get a glimpse of the nights "Super Full Moon"

By: Rachel H Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, February 20, 2012
This hike is a great workout but the views, both along Buck Ridge and at Mary's Rock, make the effort worthwhile. We also appreciated the advice from previous reviewers to take the loop counterclockwise the 8 or so people that we passed on their way up the hollow trail seemed a bit discouraged by the long (and sometimes slippery) upward trek.

By: Julia Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 1, 2012
We did this hike clockwise as previously recommended and very glad we did. Steep stairs are much easier going up than down. The leaves do make the trail challenging as sometimes they are covering rocks, and other times holes, so be careful or you will roll an ankle. Despite the leaves and the first water crossing, this was a tremendous trail. What a wonderful way to kick off the new year!

By: LarryP Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 29, 2011
We hiked the Buck Hollow/Buck Ridge trail and omitted Mary's Rock due to time limitations. The initial stream crossing is challenging, because the only way across is via 2 saplings laid in parallel. With hiking poles for balance, even someone who is phobic about crossing streams made it.

I recommend doing the hike clockwise so you go up the stairs - it's 0.5 mi by my GPS - straight up.

By: Scout Leader Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 25, 2011
It was a beautiful late-November day!  We hiked from the Meadow Spring parking lot to Mary's Rock.  Awesome hike!

By: jewelweed Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Great to do this again during a different season. Agree with poster from yesterday about the weekend users. Alone on hike to a from however, I was hit in the head with an apple core from someone above me once on Mary's Rock, then a piece of "fruit by the foot" or whatever landed in front of me. I only stayed 10 minutes up there because of uncouth crowds and rested 10 more on one of the other rock overlooks. Hopefully this doesn't go the way of Old Rag. Go during week if you like solitude. Only took me 4 hours 20 minutes this time round trip!(including the 20min break)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 5, 2011
It's a very good hike, with one exception. There were new leaves all over the place on the ground, so we jammed our toes on hidden rocks dozens of times. Pretty brutal after doing that for nearly 10mi. We did the whole hike in about 3.5hrs, accounting for a wrong turn at Skyline Dr. You'll cross a few streams on the first half, so wear waterproof boots if it's cold out. Definitely make sure that you CROSS Skyline Dr as the directions say, otherwise you'll be looping back on the 2nd half of the hike sans vista.

The Mary's Rock portion was great, except for the uncouth people who tend to go there because it's a short, easy hike. Seriously, these types spoiled some peace and quiet because they were like herds of elephants. Multiple loud/whiny kids, dogs, etc.

The loop back was very brutal at the end, because it must have been nearly a mile of stairs going downward - steeply. I think that I'd rather do this as an out and back vs a loop, as I didn't care for the back half. Although, we didn't see a single person on this portion.

By: Roscoe P. Coltrane Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 21, 2011
Definitely a five-star hike based both on the workout you get, and the view at the top -- particularly at this time of year.

A few notes. First of all, the first stream crossing was really challenging. I've never had an experience like this where I literally had to stand there for several minutes and ponder a strategy. On the way up my plan failed and I ended up with my right foot in the water. No problem though -- it was all uphill from there so I wasn't going to get cold. On the way back I had better success.

The view at the top is outstanding, particularly with fall colors. Lots of great pictures.

Regarding the trail on the way down: I have to say, I don't know what the reviewer below is talking about when he says it's virtually level. :-) You can tell from the elevation map this isn't the case. It has varying levels of steepness much like the upward trail. At the end though there's a steep "stairwell" which takes you down about 500 feet. I ended up jogging my way down, otherwise it would have taken forever. :-) But anyone with questionable knees may want to think twice.

By: Bob A. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 1, 2011
Just enough distance & elevation gain to make it fun, neat little creeks to play "Indiana Jones" crossing, a decent view at the top -- this hike has much going for it. Almost chose returning the same Buck Hollow trail I went up as weather was uncertain & I usually prefer descending on familiar ground. Glad I decided to do the loop following Buck Ridge Trail on the other side. It's virtually level much of the way so great opportunity to enjoy the forest rather than having to watch where you plant your next step. When the sunbreaks came, the yellow & red leaves were spectacular & this when only some had started to turn. Well worth the price of having to navigate down the "stairs" at end. My guess is the next weekend the weather is really nice, this will be a very popular place & deservedly so.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 24, 2011
Another great hike from upward we added the 1.4 miles .7 each way to see the Byrd nest 3 Shelter on the AT that puts this hike at 10.4 miles that we did in 7 hours with lots of stops for pictures and we were carrying 50 lb packs. We got to the parking area at 930AM with no cars in parking lot and no hikers all the way up to Skyline drive. After Skyline you will run into a lot of hikers. On the way down after skyline also ran into a few hikers and about 5 cars in the parking area when returning from the hike. Also look for the Geocache book at Byrd nest shelter. We also added a little bush whacking spot on the way up near the creek to get some great pictures of waterfalls.

By: jewelweed Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Another excellent hike!  Had been to Mary's Rock when section hiking AT few years ago and a few other times pre/post that.  This is a great alternate route.  Took me a little longer than described, but I'm not in the best shape and was in no hurry.  Started at 8:30am, enjoyed some blackberries on way up, reached Mary's Rock summit by 11:15, enjoyed the view for 15 mins and finished descent by 1:50, just in time to feel the earthquake under my feet!  Thought my legs were hallucinating after that intense last 1/2 mile. (kidding) Anyway passed  no one on the entire trip up, ate alone on the rock, but met others on way back down to the Drive.  After crossing the Drive, was alone on the trail again.  On Buck's Ridge, passed through some bear-scented sections where the trail was lined with blueberry bushes. 

By: WVHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 11, 2011
The trail is in good shape and the woods on the first part are open so you can see a good way around you. I hiked this as reccomended and the first part is flat and I knew that meant steep grades were coming. On the way up I got to see a cub and another bear possibly mom about 50-75 ft from me. The reward for the steep climb, besides the bears is the great view at the top. I watched the sun set and hiked down. again after crossing the BRP the trail was flat and then a steep decline near the end. Looked to be some good views if it was daylight, there was one nice spot on a rock where the sky was still a bit red and watched a car drive the BRP in the distance. Took around 3.5 hrs total with a quick stop at the top for a bit to eat.

By: Satish Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 5, 2011
Very decent hike – Ascend through Buck Hollow trail - about 3 miles (right next to the streams for the most part), good views from marys rock and climb down through Buck Ridge trail (single path – heavy bushes and quite steep) – enjoyable hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 18, 2011
Loved this hike. The river was a little swollen so had to cross upstream a bit on a fallen log and our feet got wet. But the waterfalls, the views and the hike itself made up for it! Sky was a little overcast but it made it a better day for the dogs. Had a picnic at the summit. All in all a great hike would definitely go again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 17, 2011 We could not start on 211.  The first water crossing was too dangerous water covered the enormous rock crossing and currents were dangerously strong   We drove up to Skyline Drive and did the Buck loup then Mary's Rock.  There were a couple water crossings on Buck Hollow where we had to go in the water knee deep and hold onto logs as we crossed.  And it's the first time I've seen waterfalls on that trail.  All in all quite the adventure

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 5, 2011
Beautiful hike in the light snow. Only trouble was the ice on the trail in sections, but with microspikes was not too bad. Lots of bear tracks on the lower Buck Hollow portion

By: Nick Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 14, 2010
This was a pretty enjoyable hike.  Did it clockwise in about 4.5 hours going at a moderate pace.  There were very few people in the buck hollow section, I only saw one group coming down while I was going up and two hikers going up while I was going down.  Once you get above Skyline Drive, the hike changes and there are lots of people.  What was great about the hike was that each section was different.  Going up Buck ridge takes you through a couple different types of forests, the Mary's rock section has some great lookouts, and the buck hollow portion takes you through a wide open hollow within the forest along a stream.  Would rate this a 4 on difficulty, the first 1.5 miles going up the ridge is tough, but the rest of the hike isn't too bad.

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I only did the Buck Hollow part of the hike and found it pleasant, but somewhat boring. Perhaps having done Old Rag yesterday spoiled me a bit. The hike was also pretty buggy.I definitely agree with those who suggest hiking it clock wise instead of the directions listed on the web site.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 12, 2010  Check out our gorgeous sunset pictures.  Night hikes are definitely the way to go when it's hot, but don't forget your headlamp & extra batteries.  We started @ 5pm going clockwise.  3 of the 13 turned back as they were not prepared for a difficult hike.  The other 10 made it to Skyline Drive just before 7pm.  Another 40 minutes & we were at Mary's Rock waiting for a spectacular sunset.  Pretty unbelieveable since the forecase showed major thunderstorms. The stragglers said they saw a Rainbow b4 heading back.  In hindsite we should have been sure everyone was hiking with someone.  When we regrouped @ Skyline Drive, we were missing one person & it was dark.  As we were figuring out the search party, she showed up and for that we were all thankful.  We got back to our cars around 11pm....hiking roughly 4.5 hours.  Absolutely the perfect summer hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 16, 2010
This was very tiring hike. On the way up, it was very tropical like with all the water running and the trees and plants grown in most of the way. I was expecting this to be gradual most of the way with one really steep section but the elevation was fairly constant and steep most of the second half up to Skyline drive. I took numerous little 15 second stops to catch my breath enough for me to walk a little more before my next breather. I added on the Hazel mountain hike for a really long day. On the way back to the car on Buck Hollow I was wondering where the elevation was and when it would come. It came in the last 1/2 mile which was the steepest part of a trail I have ever seen. There was a PATC worker clearing all the rocks off the very steep part. It seemed a monumental task as he was working by himself but he was almost done when I passed him. I gave him a big thanks and got back to the car 5hr 45 min after I started and completed 14 miles of very steep trails and I was ready for a nap. For me, it straddled the barrier between fun and work a little bit which is why it only gets 3 stars. I won't do it again but am glad I did it.

By: LarryP Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 18, 2010
We hiked the Buck Hollow/Buck Ridge portion of the trail.  Alas, not enough time to add the Mary's Rock segment.  I agree with those who suggest hiking the clock-wise loop instead of the way it is listed.  The PATC crews have done an awesome job of making the steep section of the Buck Ridge trail safer, but it is still way too steep.  My friend fell twice on the loose rocks, and we both slipped numerous times.  It would have been way better to climb up that section than come down.  Having said that, though, this was an incredible day for a hike - sunny, breezy & cool.  There were relatively few people on the trail except where it was close to the Skyline Drive.  The Buck Hollow stream is beautiful, and the crossings were very easy.  We will do this one again.

By: Sam and Thunder Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 21, 2010
We hiked up Buck Ridge first as I remembered how steep it was to come down at the end on a previous hike.  I was pleasantly surprised by the log steps now going almost all the way to the top.  I'm sure that was a tough job, but much appreciated.  Overall a good hike, with plenty to see.  It was the first warm weekend of spring so Mary's Rock was crowded, but the Buck Ridge and Buck Hollow trails offered some solitude.  If someone would like some more miles and has time I've tied in the waterfall from the Hazel River trail before.  Thanks for providing this website, it has been very helpful in planning hikes and in getting other people involved.

By: GregT Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 2, 2010
Did Mary's Rock hike from within the gate of SNP.  It was COLD and the Wind chill was freezing.  Took me awhile to get to the top, but I loved it.  What great views of almost 360 degrees.  I dont think you could have asked for a better hike on the day after New Years.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 29, 2009  Look @ those wonderful stairs PATC is in the process of installing on that steep 1/2 mile of Buck Ridge.  What a difference that makes!!  We did the hike clockwise (opposite Tony's directions) and all enjoyed it.  There were 9 of us & it took us 4.5 hours.  We had one really slow person.  Others could have easily finished in under 4 hours.  70 degree November day, check out the link for some pictures.  I really hate to give any hike less than 5 stars because every one is wonderful . . . .

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 7, 2009

We hiked this taking Buckhollow trail up and back, by-passing Buckhollow ridge. On the way back we heard a bear slide out of a tree but we didn’t see it, he/she made it into the dense brush by the time we came around the bend. A quarter mile later we heard the same sound looked over and saw a full grown bear. It gave us a look and we clapped and talked a bit louder, it was about 75 yards away down a steep slope, and it slowly wandered away.

We absolutely loved this hike. The trail was well maintained and the forest was open and beautiful and there was plenty of streams, butterflies, berries and flowers to keep the hike interesting. It did get strenuous getting up to the trail intersection. It took about 4 hours to get to the top of Mary’s rock and 1.5 to get down with very short breaks (up and down). We saw a few people on Mary’s trail but only a PATC worker/volunteer on Buckhollow, he was maintaining the path. He mentioned that they are installing “stairs” on the Buckhollow ridge section to try and make it safer, he also suggested hiking the loop in reverse of the directions on hikingupward.

We highly recommend this hike.

Note: if you are coming in on Lee Highway/US 211 (heading West) the parking lot is the first pull off on the left once you pass the SNP park sign.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 27, 2009
I did this hike this morning with a group of 15 from  We just did the Buck Hollow / Buck Ridge portion.  We were disappointed by the lack of a view at the Skyline Drive parking area, so we walked the short distance up the road to Buck Hollow Overlook.  The way back down on Buck Ridge was pretty tough.  The first 2/3rds was very overgrown and narrow, and the last 1/3rd was very steep and rocky, making it a very slow and somewhat dangerous descent.  On the upside there were tons of wildflowers and scads of blueberry bushes loaded with underripe fruit.  Maybe I'll go back in a couple of weeks just to have a wild blueberry feast.  Aside from that I think I'd rather take Buck Hollow in both directions.

By: cathy crain Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A lovely spring hike. We skipped Mary's Rock for a shorter hike and reversed the direction on the advice of one the PATC volunteers.  The Buck Ridge trail is steep in the beginning with a lot of loose rocks after a strenuous set of "stairs" but then the trail began a pleasant gradual ascent. There were plenty of wild flowers along the way including Lady Slippers, wild geraniums, pinxter flower, laurel and bowman's root. A forest canopy allows for plenty of shady spots.  We had the stream on the way back along the Buck Hollow Trail with several places to stop off for lunch or a snack. This hike does not offer great views but it does offer solitude and more wildflowers than I usually see on some of the more popular hikes. It was especially nice to meet a volunteer and let him know how much we appreciate the tremendous work and dedication that goes with maintaining the trails.  

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 28, 2008
60 degrees, wow what a hike.  I brought along 12 hikers with me this time.  And there was a gorgeous view at the top.  As usual, I organized the hike around making it to Thorton River Grill in Sperryville this time it was brunch.  Everyone had a great time.  Can't wait to return.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 20, 2008 Old Rag hike was cancelled so 2 of us decided to hike anyway.  I decide on a hike by determining how I can get to Thornton River Grill before they close (fab food!!)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 20, 2008

The rest of my write up was lost so let me try to recreate it.  The temp was 39 as we started with drizzle.  It made for a beautiful site as we hiked.  As we turned toward Mary's Rock off the AT, the temp changed and it got colder.  Ice had formed on all the trees for a gorgeous picture, if it hadn't been for the fog rolling in that is.  There was ice on my hair and jacket by the time we reached the top.  No view but still worth the climb.  We made it round trip in 4 hours w/o lunch but we were trucking because Thorton River Grill closes @ 3pm and we didn't want to miss it.

By: jake Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 9, 2008
This was a great hike on a perfect day.  It was very cool and breezy at Mary's Rock and the view was not obstructed by the usual summer haze.  The descent down the Buck Ridge trail was not very inviting or comfortable.  It appeared that there was currently trail work going on but for the first mile or so the trail is very clostrophobic and narrow.  As stated in the narrative the last half mile is steep.  You must travel literally straight down the mountain on gravel.  We had to two falls between my buddy and I.  Overall a good hike although I will make no plans to do it again.

By: The Bear Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Buck Hollow part of the trail is really cool. You climb gradually, following the stream for a great length. As it stormed real hard two nights previous, it was still gorged and some recently fallen trees were blocking the path here and there. This circuit is not oftened travelled and it was more evident on the Buck Ridge portion. This trail needs some serious work, as it was particularly overgrown on the first third and the blazes are fading (we can see the old orange wich previously marked this trail) . The second third was really nice. It's great to be alone on a trail not often used. Many birds and blackberry bushes and even a bear who I had time to see for two seconds fleeing in front of me. I've seen bears on all the four eastern side trails I hiked. One, on the horse trail leading to a fall I can't remember the name of was nonchalantly eating blackberries ten yards from the trail and the people taking pictures. And deers! This park is crowded with them, you see 'em everywhere! Back to the Buck Ridge Trail, the last portion is the worst. As mentioned above, it's very steep, but not on loose rocks, on loose pebbles. Be really careful there, and a good pair of hiking poles is almost mandatory. And be sure to do this circuit as written. I met a couple in the Meadow Spring parking lot who just finished doing the circuit the other way and they almost killed themselves climbing that part. Be also sure to do the Mary's rock part, wich alone is worth the trip. There's an old cabin foundation with the chimney still standing. I was surprised that it was not mentioned in the description, a nice surprise.The 5 hours timeline is good, and I took several breaks plus a half hour lunch on top of the rock in that period.

Stupid me, the old homestead IS mentioned in the description, it just passed me by.

By: B. Gordon Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This is not so much a review as a suggestion to check the SNP website (listed below) for road status.  There is also a phone number on the website you can call to make sure Skyline Drive is open so you can get to your trail head.  Skyline Drive is closed intermittently due to the different types of weather this time of year.  I wish we had checked ahead!!!

We initially were going to hike Stony Man Mountain and then on the way back to Thornton Gap stop at Meadow Spring and hike up to St Mary's Rock. At the Thornton Gap Entrance we were told by the Ranger that Skyline Drive Southbound was closed due to a recent Ice Storm and trees still down. 

On to Plan B, we hiked to St Mary's Rock going South on the Appalachian Trail near the Panorama Restaurant, which you can see from the Thornton Gap Entrance.  This is a nice alternative way to get to St Mary's Rock and is only about 3.7 miles roundtrip. This is a well maintained part of the A. T. and we enjoyed great views most of the way up. The temps were in the mid 30's and the wind was blowing at the top making it feel much colder, so bundle up. The views at the top of St Mary's are pretty spectacular.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I did this hike with three friends on a sunny, 40 degree, and windless late November day.  The trail was dry and it was just a wonderful day for a hike.  The scenery going up (Buck Hollow and Meadow Spring trails) is fairly average, but the views from Mary's Rock are spectacular.  Photos at:

The Hazel Mountain and Buck Ridge trails going down have no great views, but we encountered much Bear poop and lots of Mountain Laurel (which would be lovely when blooming in the spring).  As noted in the description, the grade near the end is extremely steep with loose gravel.  I measured it at 38% for about 2/10 of a mile at the steepest part using a GPS with a barometric altimeter!  Hiking poles will be a big help on this hike. Other than this steep section, the trails were in great condition.  My edited GPS track log found this hike to be 9.3 miles for the round trip.

By: JeanC Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 19, 2007
I did the Buck Hollow/Buck Ridge Trail loop starting from the Meadow Springs parking lot on Skyline Dr. That meant the first 2.8 miles was all downhill...rocky and unstable, a bit steep in some places. I developed a little knee pain by the end of that part.  Then the trail takes a hard right, onto the Buck Hollow Ridge Trail...and my knee forgot all about the pain as it worked on climbing the steep slopes.  The initial climb is practically vertical...and I can see how coming DOWN it would be  seat-of-the-pants adventure.  Better to climb it.  What a work out!  The views at the top are lovely.   I only passed one other climber...who said he saw a bear. The critter scampered away.  But I never saw him.  The ascent includes some rock scrambles and, indeed, very overgrown narrow trails. Long pants are suggested.

By: foggh Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 18, 2007

After seeing JeanC review posted 8/19/07, I laughed outload and agree on everything. SO I decided to log on post my hike on the same route the day before Sat 8/18. Yep, parked at Meadow Springs, hiked down Buck Hollow (which would be nicer in spring with some water flowing) and saw alot of Bear Scat along the trail every where there was a Berry Bush.! I passed only 1 couple who had parked at the lower lot, and only was doing Buck Hollow. I stopped to eat my lunch where Buck Hollow meets Buck Ridge trail. Then the accent started up-and-up-and-up, I swear a couple of times I was crawling on my hands and knees gasping for breath (no bear scat here). when got to about 2,300ft elev on the ridge trail you start seeing some nice views, and you can see the Mt Hazel overlook on Skyline Dr. There are a few boulders to climb at about 2,400ft (nothing like Old Rag, which I did in July 2007) and then the trail levels out thru alot of brush/overgrowth. Alot of bumble bees on that yellow wildflower stuff. I didnt see a blue blaze for a long time on that leg, and was beginnig to think I got sidetracked onto a wildlife trail, but I finally saw the blase and back to the main trail. Great for Solitude and a cardio work-out.

By: Mindy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 7, 2007
We did the big loop covering Bucks Hollow and Mary's Rock.  Going up was terrific and very beautiful.  I loved the fact that it was so quiet.  I gave this hike only 3 stars because the Bucks Hollow Ridge on the way down was in horrendous shape -- totally overgrown.  Also, the last .5 miles are beyond steep as the warning provides.  Fell more than a few times and it was just very uncomfortable and not very fun trying to get down.  I'm in really good shape and hike every weekend.  That part just wasn't up my alley but others may prefer it. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 24, 2007

We did the Buck Hollow-Buck Ridge w/ Mary's Rock hike. 9 mile circuit.  We started at 9:20am and finished up at 3:50pm. The trails were snow an ice covered. The views at Mary's Rock (and from the very top 3514 ft. were awesome and made all the hard work going up worth it. We definetly are going to go back in the spring and should be able to get our time down consiserably. Here is the link to the photos from this hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 13, 2007
This was a great hike.  As a suggestion, bring an extra set of clothes (especially pants and socks) if you want to avoid hiking a good ways in wet clothes.  The first set of water crossings can be very accident-prone for some people!

By: Michele P Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 28, 2006
The views from Mary's Rock are outstanding. You can climb all over the rock, beyond where most people gather near the main overlook. For one heck of a climb, do this circuit backwards. This also avoids a boring return trip.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 1, 2006
This was quite a work out and a great way to start the new year. We had some packed snow, ice and slush at higher elevations but were still able to get to the top and back down w/o issue. Even on a winter day the foot traffic to Mary's Rock is quite heavy. On the way down I decided to name some of the other vistas. There's Philburt's Rock, Bruce's Rock .....

Two cautions. The crossing of the Thornton River and the first crossing of Buck Run, early in the trek and at the end, might be problematic during periods of high water. Also, the last 0.5 miles of the Buck Ridge Tr are quite steep and covered with loss rock. Watch your step!

By: blueingenue Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 7, 2004
I took this hike by accident, trying to take a Hazel Mountain hike. I used the Skyline Drive parking lot as my starting point, so I hiked down Buck Ridge trail first, then back up Buck Hollow trail.

The only other people I saw on the hike were at the Skyline Drive parking area--a National Park employee and a photographer--and they veered off in the direction of the Hazel Mountain trails.

On Buck Ridge you will be facing out over overlooks--the trunks of blighted hickories look amazing against a backdrop of blue sky--then make a steady descent through forest.

The best thing about hiking in this direction is you turn around before you reach the parking area on Hwy. 211, which means you don't have to make the crossing of Thornton River (where your options are to go over slippery, precarious stepping stones or through knee-deep water).

Going up Buck Hollow you will be facing the beautiful views of rock formations and waterfalls as you ascend, making several shallow, easy crossings. As you near the top of the Buck Hollow trail, you can stop and look behind you for a few more decent overlook views through the trees.

Overall, the trail was incredibly scenic, easy to follow, and not too strenuous.

I still have pictures up at here, but no guarantee that they will remain at that link forever.

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