Hike to Bear Church Rock via Bootens Gap
Virginia › Bootens Gap
Added by Christin Healey
This is a true hidden gem in Shenandoah National Park. You are above 3,000' the entire hike, so the views are expansive in the fall, winter and spring, and summer brings cooler temps without an extensive elevation gain (800').
The trail leads along the ridge of Jones Mountain to the gorgeous views at Bear Church Rock, and it's the perfect hike for those seeking solitude - didn't see another soul the entire time on a holiday weekend.
From the parking lot, head out left on the AT northbound. In .4 miles you will come to a trail junction and turn right on Laurel Prong Trail. At 1.4 miles you will reach another trail junction where you will keep straight, joining the short Cat Knob Trail. Follow the trail uphill, past gray boulders, where you will reach your final junction at 2.1 miles, intersecting Jones Mountain Trail. Veer right onto Jones Mountain Trail. At mile 4.6, the trail zigzags very steeply down the point of the ridge among brush and laurel.
In 1 mile, look for a side trail to the left that will lead you onto the granite slab of Bear Church Rock. Stop for lunch and enjoy the views of the Blue Ridge! You can also camp here if you want to turn it into an overnight. Retrace your steps, making for a 9.4 mile out and back hike.
Getting there: Bootens Gap is at milepost 55.1 on Skyline Drive, 10.4 miles north of the Swift Run Gap Entrance.
- Water (there is no water source in drier months)
- Food & snacks
- Hiking boots
- Tent (optional)
- Sleeping bag (optional)
- Hiking poles
- Bug spray
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography
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Bleak Trail During Winter
Hikes this trail on 15 January, not much to see during this time of year. I was on the trail for about 4.5-5 hours, so it can be done fairly quickly, but I would wait until summer or fall for this one. The views are better from Skyline Drive. Only saw 2 others on the trail though
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