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.

Pack List

  • Water (there is no water source in drier months)
  • Food & snacks
  • Backpack
  • Camera
  • Hiking boots
  • Tent (optional)
  • Sleeping bag (optional)
  • Hiking poles
  • Bug spray
Read More

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

Share

Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

9.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

800 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

about 1 year ago

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

about 1 year ago

Added by Christin Healey

Explorer, adventure seeker, lover of life and all things creative.

More Adventures Nearby

Hike to Historical Rapidan Camp in Shenandoah National Park

Virginia / Milam Gap Parking

For this hike park at the Milam Gap parking lot located at mile 52.8 on Skyline Drive. Once parked you will cross Skyline Drive to reach the trail.

Jenn Gonzalez
4 Saves

Photograph Devils Knob Overlook

Virginia / Devils Knob Overlook

Located next to Wintergreen Resort, Devils Knob is super easy to get to and has an amazing 180 degree panoramic view.

Brandon Dewey
9 Saves

Snowshoe the Blue Ridge Parkway

Virginia / Blue Ridge Parkway at Blue Ridge Virginia

We don't get a ton of snow here in Virginia, but when we do, the Blue Ridge Parkway can be a great place to get out and enjoy a day of snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

Kenton Steryous
5 Saves