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Hike Bear Church Rock via the Graves Mill Trail

Madison, Virginia

based on 2 reviews



8.5 miles

Elevation Gain

2250 ft

Route Type



Added by Jess Fischer

A lesser-known, eight mile hike that will wind you along a gorgeous mountain river and then up to the summit of Bear Church Rock.

Starting at the Graves Mill Parking area, head up the yellow blazed trail that is marked by a big cement marker. The trail will follow closely beside the gorgeous Rapidan River. Hike for half a mile until you come to the intersection of the Staunton River Trail. Turn left (do not cross the river) and follow the trail for a little over two and a half miles to the intersection of the Jones Mountain Trail. Turn left on this trail and hike up a steep incline for half a mile to the next trail junction. Here, stay left on the Jones Mountain Trail. Keep hiking and you'll come to an amazing thicket of old mountain laurel that creates a canopy over your heads. 

After this you will come to an intersection where a side trail heads towards the Jones Mountain Cabin. This trail is a little over half a mile out and back. I did not do this trail but I've heard it's a cool area to see. 

If you choose to forgo the mountain cabin trail, keep hiking straight for another half a mile to the Bear Church Rock overlook. From this point, retrace your steps back down the mountain.

Another route to Bear Church Rock is via Bootens Gap

* Note: the Rapidan River is also one of the best rivers to catch native Brook Trout. If you fly fish be sure to bring your fly rod for the first half of the hike that winds beside the Rapidan River. 

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Swimming Hole

Hike Bear Church Rock via the Graves Mill Trail Reviews

This was a fun hike along a river to the summit. I loved the cabin and wish for a night to camp there. Our highlight was the migrating butterflies stopping for a drink in the puddles on the trail.

On a cool weekend Saturday in early October, not much Fall color yet in the trees, there was about 12-15 cars parked in the small lot/side road. I chose this hike because I did not want to venture out to Skyline Drive on such a day. The first couple miles of the hike is fairly flat/has a steady incline and the last 1.5 miles or so is a butt kicker! Pretty steep yet once you reach the overlook, there is a fair amount of room to sprawl out. The view is nice as you look straight into a valley and you can see Old Rag in the distance. You don't have a 'long horizon' type view, but it is nice to not see any signs of civilization from the overlook. This is a good workout hike with a decent payoff compared to many of the hikes along Skyline that are shorter hikes and you don't have to deal with Skyline Drive traffic.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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