Bearfence Mountain Trail

#3 of 140 trails in Shenandoah National Park
Bearfence Mountain Trail is a 4 mile out and back trail located near Shenandoah, Virginia that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking & walking and is accessible from April until October.

4.68 miles Out & Back 380 feet
Kid Friendly
hiking walking kids rocky scramble
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After parking in the Bearfence Mountain parking lot, cross Skyline Drive and follow the blue blazes of the Bearfence Trail.

The Bearfence Trail leads up a steep slope that eventually turns into a scramble climb that to the summit of Bearfence Mountain. Blazes mark the best scramble climbing route. The view from the summit is well worth the climb and is one of only three summits in the park that has a 360-degree view.

Getting down from the summit requires a short scramble climb, after which the Bearfence Trail returns to a normal hiking surface. The Appalachian trail can be accessed from either one of two right turns from the Bearfence Trail. The second right turn should be followed to complete the one-mile loop. The Appalachian Trail leads back down the mountain to Skyline Drive.

The scramble climb makes this trail a unique hike to a great view. Anyone who is reasonably fit and flexible should be able to handle the scramble climb (my eight year-old daughter handled it with ease), but hikers who have issues with heights may want to skip this trail. Near the summit, the climbing path occasionally passes within eighteen inches or so of sheer drops. This is also definitely not the trail for families with kids small enough that they have to be carried.

Adrianna DiGuglielmo

6 Completed6 Reviews

This was such a fun trail. We did the hike right before sunset and got to see some amazing views! The effort to views ratio was great and the rock scramble was fun too.

Tiffany Rizer

2 Completed2 Reviews

We had a really good time on this trail. Wasn't too difficult, nice hike up and some rock scrambling. Nice mix of activities. Beautiful 360 view once you make it to the last viewpoint.

Michael McDougal

7 Completed7 Reviews

It was easier than we expected, and the views at the top are fantastic. You're completely surrounded by wilderness, and we were the only ones up there for the entire hour we spent at the top. The rock scramble isn't actually that difficult, and there were only a few sections where I needed to use my hands.

Michelle Zajac

27 Completed20 Reviews

Megan Berg

6 Completed6 Reviews

Nice hike and a bit of scrambling.

Em Campbell

5 Completed3 Reviews

Great quick hike up the rocks with friends. Not suitable for young kids.

Katy Sherman

49 Completed7 Reviews

Michelle Zajac

27 Completed20 Reviews

This is rated easier than it is, unless you follow the at to the 180 view. If you want to full 360, it's a scramble to the top. It's close to edges, and a wrong move could be a potential for extreme danger. Quick and easy we did the scramble up and walked the at back to the parking lot. Looking forward to this one again since it's so quick and easy!

Laura Kraft

7 Completed6 Reviews

This tough rock scramble was our first hike of a week long camping trip. We took our lab mix with us and she did great. We have a harness for lifting her when she can't scramble so BE PREPARED if your four legged friend is coming. Once you get toward the peak of the trail, it is all rock scramble and more challenging than moderate.
Be careful to stow loose items rather than storing in side pockets of backpacks (we dropped a camelback wb while passing one particularly difficult section.
All that aside, the hike is a good first test for difficult trails considering the short distance. It hooks up to the A.T. for a much easier downhill decent. I highly recommend climbing in keens! There are other brands that provide similar features but for this hike especially, have good gear!
The views were SPECTACULAR. The 360 & 180 degree viewpoints are totally worth giving this hike a go.

Neill Beurskens

16 Completed14 Reviews

Love this hike / scramble. Not sure why this is rated moderate though - you need to have some skill and fitness to make the rock climb and at parts you could easily fall to death or injury if a wrong move is made. That said, its a lot of fun for even the most novice climber / expert hiker.