Bearfence Mountain – Best Short Hike in Shenandoah National Park

If you want to enjoy a sunset from a Shenandoah National Park mountain summit, there’s no better thing to do than hiking Bearfence Mountain. Although there are countless fine overlooks for sunset views along Skyline Drive, there’s nothing quite like sitting on a rocky peak and gazing out over the valleys and ranges below.

Hiking Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park
Panoramic view from Bearfence Mountain

Hiking Bearfence Mountain, Shenandoah National Park

The Bearfence Mountain Trail is a short loop trail passing over the rocky summit of Bearfence Mountain. At 3,620 feet (1,103 meters) high, it may not be the tallest of mountains, but it does offer spectacular 360-degree views. This panoramic view takes in the Shenandoah Valley, Massanutten Mountain, Laurel Gap and Fork and Bluff Mountains.

The trail is 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) long, which is not long by any means. It does, however, pose some challenges as a significant part of it involves some serious rock scrambling. The section around the summit of Bearfence Mountain requires maneuvering through, between and over jumbles of rock. You’ll need to use both your hands and feet to scale this summit. Sometimes, you’ll even find yourself scooting down an angled rock on your bottom.

Bearfence Mountain summit, Shenandoah National Park
Bearfence Mountain summit, Shenandoah National Park

This rock scrambling is one of the main attractions of this particular hike in Shenandoah National Park. Make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots. If it’s a rainy or snowy day, this trail is not recommended. Also, in summer, park rangers have reported rattlesnakes in the area, so it’s key to watch where you place your hands and feet.

Besides all that, this is a superb short hike, one of the best I’ve ever done, in fact. The views from the summit are fantastic and the shortness of the trail makes this a great option for a sunset hike.

Sunset at Bearfence Mountain
Sunset at Bearfence Mountain

Additionally, the mountain is named “Bearfence” for a reason. When I did this little hike in late November, on the way down, I spotted a black bear looking for food under fallen leaves. Hiking Bearfence Mountain is strongly recommended for the fun rock scramble, the amazing summit views and the chance to spot wildlife.

Black bear in Shenandoah National Park
Black bear in Shenandoah National Park

Trail Information

Trailhead: The Bearfence Mountain trailhead lies across Skyline Drive from the Bearfence Mountain parking lot on milepost 56.4.

Distance: 1.2-mile (1.9-kilometer) lariat

Time: 1 hour for the entire loop, including photo ops at the summit.

Have you ever hiked Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park? Share your experiences below!

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Other posts by the Author

2 Responses

  1. Shenandoah Skyline Drive, Washington DC - Go4Travel Blog

    […] many outdoor picnic spots. Adventure types can take on cycling and horseback riding. There are 75 scenic overviews that line the 105-mile road and each one of them provides a unique view of the Blue Ridge Mountains […]

  2. Avatar for Bram


    Thanks, Bram! My Mom is 95 and frail; after a busy social life in government and enjoying nature, she can’t get out anymore. Our family of 6 used to go camping in Shenandoah National Park (from DC) twice a year starting in 1953 when I was less than a year old, and loved it.. We cast my father’s ashes at the summit of Bear Fence in 1973; every year after through the age of 81 my mom climbed up through the scramble. I found your blog today while visiting my Mom and she really enjoyed the beautiful pictures.


Leave a Reply