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Bearfence Mountain Trail Shenandoah National Park

Updated: Jan 27

Bearfence Rock Scramble is a top 10 trail in Shenandoah National Park. Come with us as we show you this legendary trail. Let’s Get Started! For more views of this great adventure watch this video:

We’ll first discuss the trailhead and parking lot but read the whole post for tips you’ll need to know to enjoy and accomplish the rock scramble and an easier alternate hike to reach the viewpoint for those with mobility challenges or little hikers.

What Mile Marker is Bearfence Mountain?

Skyline Drive is the route through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It is 105 miles long and the points of interest are shared by what mile marker they are on Skyline Drive. The trailhead for Bearfence and the parking lot is located at mile marker 56.4 Skyline Drive. Look for the parking lot on the West side and the trail starts on the east side. Be careful crossing the road. There are a lot of people who are not out for a Sunday drive. Motorcycles and cars tend to drive too fast for the twists and turns and do not give themselves enough site distance to stop for pedestrians. But, there is limited parking and those who come early will have a better chance of getting a spot in the lot. When I say limited I mean about 16 spots. As one of the top 10 trails in Shenandoah this limits the amount of people on the trail and your ability to hike Bearfence. But it makes the hike more enjoyable because there are fewer people on the trail. Speaking of the trail

How Long is the Hike of Bearfence Mountain?

The most popular way to hike Bearfence Mountain is with a loop that includes the Rock scramble on the way up and the Appalachian trail on the way back. This hike is 1.4 miles and includes 311 feet of elevation gain. Plan on an hour to hike this moderate difficulty trail and enjoy the 360 degree views from above. The parking lot is at about 3,300 feet and the top of the mountain is a little over 3,600 feet above sea level.

Next we will talk more about the trail and later we’ll get into what gear to take for this hike.

What is it like hiking Bearfence Mountain Trail?

As you can tell the trail immediately ascends from the parking lot. The elevation gain can be felt every step until you reach the viewpoint. There are a lot of well maintained steps but there is also a lot of trail with flat rock and jagged rock with uneven footing. Every step matters here and injury would make it difficult to get back to your car. It would hurt to stumble and fall into trees or brush just off the trail. In the Summer everything is an amazing green. Some of the trees you may discover are Chestnut and Red Oak. Wildflowers are also present along the trail. Watch out for poison ivy. The rock scramble is periods of rock with intermittent trail. You never know what you will discover around the next corner. The trail makes you wonder what is next.

What are Some of the Recommendations for Hiking Bearfence Mountain Trail?

There are a few recommendations and rules from the national park service. Pets are not allowed on the trail. The scramble isn’t the best choice for people with a fear of heights. Some of the trail is on steep drop offs. If there is rain, snow, or ice it is best to stay off the rock and hike other trails instead. The rocks have difficult footing even in dry weather. Stay on the trail for your safety and also to protect the ecosystem. Take plenty of water and stay hydrated and be sure you and your brood are physically healthy enough to complete this moderate 1 hour hike. This one isn’t usually considered but when you finish your hike make sure to check for ticks as they carry lyme disease. To hike safely be sure you tell someone of your hike and when you will check in with them again after your hike is complete. That is so if that person doesn’t hear from you they can contact the park for help. The park has a nice guide on the internet.

Every hike needs a dad joke: What did the hiker say when he fell in a pile of moss? “I’m not lichen this.”

What is your favorite dad joke. Tell us in the comments.

Here are dad joke books for great gifts: Dad Jokes Around the Campfire: 600 Funniest Dad Jokes:

Let’s get back to the trail and

What are Some Basic Tips for the Bearfence Rock Scramble?

Our first tip is to take your time and don’t rush this one. Even though the word scramble sounds quick make sure the rock you are scrambling is solid and go at a comfortable pace. If the rock breaks off make sure you alert those below. Take smaller steps and stay in control. Make sure your shoes are tied well to provide solid support. Cinch your backpack so it is tight to your body and keeps you balanced. Stow your trekking poles so you can use your hands for climbing. At times you will use your arms and legs to crawl like a bear. Your foot holds are more important than your hand holds but The hand holds should compliment your foot holds. Every step and hand hold matters. Plan your path up the rock that is most efficient for your and your ability.

Stay until the end because a little later we will give you an alternate route to take that may be more to your hiking style. Now, We’ve discussed shoes and backpacks a little bit but

What gear do I need to hike Bearfence Mountain Trail? We almost always hike with a day pack and took one with us on this hike as well. The Teton sports oasis backpack is great for day hiking. We kept our trekking poles in the car for this hike but see where it would be useful on the trail but not while scrambling the rock. I wear Merrell Moab II hiking shoes and it provided great traction on the trail and rock. Our brood usually wears similar but in between sizes on this trip we kind of wore a variety of footwear. First aid kits are a must on any hike and we carry two just in case. Always consider taking a rescue rope too. A rope will come in handy and maybe necessary if someone in your group slips off the trail and down and needs help back up. With 500 miles of trails in Shenandoah National Park it is a good idea to take a map and compass and flashlight or headlamp. After the overlook we got a little confused and one wrong turn could make for a bad day.

Here are amazon links to the gear we used in Shenandoah

Teton Sports Hydration Pack Video Review:

Amazon Link: 2021 model

Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E hydration backpack Video Review for younger hikers:

Merrell Moab II Men's Hiking Shoes:

The First Aid Kit we carry:

Tactical Flashlights:

As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases through these links and Amazon ads and banners on this page, at no additional cost to you.

Bring enough water for your hike. Drink before and during your hike so that you have enough fluids. The viewpoint is a great place to sit down, have a snack or lunch, and enjoy the view. Granola bars or Protein bars are great for your brood and when they’re hungry. We know how hard it is to motivate little ones when they are hungry. Adults, too. But if you really want to motivate… and you’ve watched our videos before you know we recommend candy to keep you going. You’re exercising, you’re hiking, a little sugar is good for the soul. We usually pack gummy worms or fruit chews because they don’t melt and are easy to hand out to everyone.

We’ve got more to offer about this trail but thank you for reading and being a part of CampBrood. We know your time is valuable and appreciate you spending it with us. You’ll be more ready for Shenandoah and other National Parks with our posts and videos and we hope you have a great time learning about these places with us.

The trail can be hiked in a loop. After you cross the road from the parking lot follow the blue blazes marked on trees and rocks. The blazes guide you on bearfence mountain trail. The trail will take you to the top for spectacular views. Follow the trail off the viewpoint, turn right onto the short distance to the Appalachian trail and turn right again for an easier return back to your car. The Appalachian trail is marked by the monuments with the metal bands. The bands are inscribed with trail details. But if you want to see the viewpoint and avoid the rock scramble you can take the Appalachian trail to the viewpoint and return to your car the same way. From the parking lot when you first reach the Appalachian trail take a right then take a left to get onto bearfence to see the viewpoints without having to do the rock scramble.

To learn more about Shenandoah national park read these posts next!

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girl wearing backpack rock scrambling in shenandoah national park

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