Mary’s Rock AT North

  • Highlights: Appalachian Trail, amazing views, mountain laurel in June
  • Distance: 3.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change: 1,210 feet
  • Trail Surface: Very rocky
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate (rocky surface, elevation gain)
  • Trailhead Parking: Panorama parking area, Skyline Drive MP 31.5; park entrance fee required
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park and AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Hawksbill Brewery—Hooray for Luray IPA & Shenandoah Sunrise Porter

The Hike:

The summit of Mary’s Rock (or Marys Rock) is a popular destination. It’s so popular there are three ways to reach to rocky summit. The shortest and easiest hike is from the Meadow Spring parking area. For a longer hike, begin at the Pinnacle picnic area and hike north on the AT. For this hike, we decided to try option 3 starting at the Panorama parking area and traveling south on the AT.

A large parking area and restrooms are all that remain of the old Panorama Restaurant which closed in 2002. At the rear of the parking area is a trail kiosk and a short spur trail leading to the Appalachian Trail. At the junction, bear left on the white-blazed AT. 

The rocky climb begins almost immediately. The trail passes beside some large boulders and impressive rock formations. There are a few partial views to the left, but the best views are at the summit. At about 1 mile, the boulders and rock formations lining the trail give way to an impressive forest of mountain laurel. The blooms are typically at their peak in June; however, in early July we found a few still blooming at the higher elevations.

At 1.8 miles, the AT turns sharply left. Stay right and follow a blue-blazed spur trail as you continue to climb to the summit. The views from Mary’s Rock are some of the best in Shenandoah. On an early morning we had the summit to ourselves for a few minutes. It’s hard to leave, but retrace your steps (downhill this time) back to your vehicle.

We decided to continue northbound on the AT to the Pass Mountain AT hut. This 3.4 miles out-and-back section of the AT is much less rocky and has a 670’ elevation gain. There are no views, just a nice walk in the woods on the world-famous Appalachian Trail.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Hawksbill Brewing in Luray is just 10 miles from the trailhead. They offer indoor and outdoor seating and food trucks visit regularly. Even better, they use local ingredients when possible including hops grown in Luray. They even brew their own root beer Boo Beer made from local honey

Kathy enjoyed a cold glass of Hooray for Luray IPA, their hoppiest beer at 55 IBU. Made with Chinook, Citra, and locally-grown Cascades from Hawksbill Hop Yards it has a great nose and just the right amount of bitterness. Pete liked Shenandoah Sunrise Porter. Toasted malts and a deep rich flavor make this a great substitute for a cup of coffee in the morning.

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