Bearfence Rock Scramble

  • Highlights: Fantastic views, rock scramble, Appalachian Trail
  • Distance: 1.1 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 217 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate with rock scramble, easy without the scramble
  • Trailhead Parking: Skyline Drive Bearfence Trailhead parking area mile 56.4, park fee required
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park
  • Beer Pairings: Octonia Stone Brew Works—Rokuhnite Me Amadeus lager & Worth One’s Basalt pale ale

The Hike:

This short hike has a challenging rock scramble leading to amazing views. The rock scramble is a bit tricky but is manageable for most hikers. Some sections of the scramble require the use of hands and feet and this hike shouldn’t be attempted if the rocks are wet or icy. Take your time as the rewards are well worth the effort. There is a non-scramble option with some views which is described below.

Our friend Shaq joined us on this hike. From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive and follow the blue-blazed Bearfence Loop Trail. The climb begins immediately and at .1 mile joins a four-way junction with the Appalachian Trail. Stay straight and continue to climb past some large boulders. At .2 miles reach a partial view point. The rock scramble becomes more intense and the views become more amazing as you continue.

Look for blue blazes painted on the rocks and take your time as climb up, around, and over the rocks. At .3 miles reach a rock outcrop with fantastic 360° views, arguably one of the best viewpoints in Shenandoah. At .4 miles reach a junction with a connector trail to the AT. Stay straight here on the blue-blazed trail as there are some nice views ahead.

At .5 miles, a short spur trail on the right leads to some nice views of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain to the west. Reach a junction with the AT at .6 miles. Turn right and follow the white-blazed AT heading north. At one mile, reach the four-way junction and turn left to return to the trailhead parking area.

For those who wish to bypass the scramble, begin the hike as described above and turn right at the four-way junction onto the white-blazed AT. Turn left at the first junction on the Connector Trail and then turn right on the Bearfence Loop Trail in about 50 yards. Turn right and a viewpoint is about 100 yards ahead. Continue on the Bear Fence Loop Trail to the junction with the AT. Turn right on the AT and in .5 miles turn left to return to the parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Octonia Stone Brew Works is housed in the former firehouse in Ruckersville at the intersection of routes 29 and 33. Owner and brewer Jeff started brewing beer  in early 2020, just a few months before the COVID pandemic. This small-batch brewery has indoor and outdoor seating and dogs are welcome. Octonia Stone brews what can be best described as an eclectic assortment of beers and ales.

Worth One’s Basalt is a New Zealand-style pale ale made with New Zealand hops. This medium-bodied beer has notes of caramel from the toasted malts. At 44 IBUs, it has a nice hoppy finish. Rokuhnite Me Amadeus is a Vienna lager brewed from an old-world recipe. This is a hybrid of sorts—a top fermented ale brewed with Vienna malt and hopped to IPA levels with Noble hops. With 65 IBUs this lager is hoppier than some IPAs.  

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.