Hike to Bear Church Rock via Bootens Gap

Bootens Gap

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
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RT Distance 9.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 800 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Must do during the Fall

Like a lot of hikes in Shenandoah NP this is a must do in Fall. Great views throughout the hike, and easily doable in an afternoon.

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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