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, 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.
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.
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.
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!