Admire the sprawling wilderness of Virginia at Bearfence Mountain. Tackle adventurous trails that lead to the mountaintop and discover fascinating rock formations. Appreciate the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a part of the Appalachian Mountain range. Bearfence Mountain rises to a height of 3,620 feet (1,100 meters) in the heart of Shenandoah National Park.
Select from two hiking paths winding upward to an observation point near the top of the mountain. The easiest is the 1.1-mile-long (1.8-kilometer) round-trip Bearfence Viewpoint trail, which incorporates a section of the Appalachian Trail and is suitable for most levels of fitness. Follow the Bearfence Rock Scramble for a more challenging route of similar length. This involves pulling yourself up onto large boulders and through narrow gaps in rocks.
Pay attention to the rugged upright rocks as you climb, hike and scramble your way to the top. They began as volcanic lava and transformed into gray-green-colored rocks over millions of years. Scientists believe they will eventually be broken down into soil. At the summit, look for examples of plant life and organisms such as birch trees, lichens and rockfoils.
Enjoy the exquisite views of the national park from atop, with 360-degree summit views. Gaze outward on clear days and count the visible ridgelines of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Reach the mountain by driving along Skyline Drive, a 105-mile (169-kilometer) scenic byway that runs the full length of Shenandoah National Park. The Bearfence Mountain trailhead is about a 20-minute drive from the Swift Run Gap Entrance. Pay the park entrance fee here and pick up maps and other helpful information. Free parking is available at the trailhead.
The best time to visit Bearfence Mountain is from April to October. The area is notably picturesque in fall. Car access to the Skyline Drive is restricted at times of extreme weather conditions. Other park attractions nearby include Doyles River Falls and Lewis Mountain Picnic Area. Find more information on the official website of the National Park Service.