Hike Bearfence

Rocks with painted blue blazes on them.
A portion of the rock scramble at Bearfence.

NPS/Brett Raeburn

Hike Bearfence Rock Scramble

Difficulty rating: Moderate
Distance: 1 mi/1.6 km
Elevation gain: 311 ft/95 m
Trail features: Climb up a rock scramble that leads to a 360-degree view of the Park.

Bearfence Rock Scramble is a 1 mi/1.6 km circuit hike. This hike includes a rock scramble, which means you’ll be pulling yourself up, over, and between boulders, using your feet and hands. To begin the hike, cross the road from the parking area at mile 56.4 of Skyline Drive and climb the stairs up the bank. At the trail post, continue straight ahead on Bearfence Loop Trail. After the rock scramble, turn right onto the connector trail. Go right on the Appalachian Trail north. Once back to the intersection with the trailpost from the begriming of the hike, turn left and return to the parking lot.

Nearby Hike: Bearfence Viewpoint

Difficulty rating: Easiest
Distance: 1.1 mi/1.8 km
Elevation gain: 305 ft/93 m
Trail features: Viewpoint over the Blue Ridge. viewpoint

If you want to avoid the rock scramble or you are hiking with a pet, the Bearfence Viewpoint may be for you. This 1.1 mi/1.8 km hike leaves from the same parking area at mile 56.4 of Skyline Drive. Cross Skyline Drive and climb the stairs up the bank. At the trail post, turn right onto the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) south. Go left on the connector trail, then turn right on Bearfence Loop Trail. You’ll see the viewpoint on your right. Retrace your steps to the starting point.

Note: The trail network in Shenandoah National Park consists of many intersections. The trails listed here can be connected to create your own route. When hiking, bring a map and pay close attention to the trail markers to make sure you are following the route you planned for yourself.

Map: Bearfence Area

Bearfence is a 1 mi/1.6 km hike with a rock scramble.

An average pace is:
1.5 mph for easiest trails.
1.4 mph for moderate trails.
1.3 mph for moderately strenuous trails.
1.2 mph for strenuous and very strenuous trails.
Pets are not allowed on the Bearfence Rock Scramble. Pets are allowed on the nearby Appalachain Trail and Bearfence Viewpoint. 
The park entrance fee is required.
The parking area is at mile 56.4 of Skyline Drive. The beginning of the trail is across the street from the parking area.
Accessibility Information
Service animals are allowed on Bearfence Rcok Scramble. All other pets are not allowed on this trail. Pets are allowed on the nearby Appalachian Trail and Bearfence Viewpoint Trail.

Last updated: March 27, 2020