Hike to Bears Den Overlook

Virginia Bears Den Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    1 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildlife

Simple, and easily accessible overlook of the Shenandoah Valley just off the Appalachian Trail and only an hour's drive from Washington D.C. Enjoy great sunsets everyday as the sun sinks below the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Bears Den is a collection of rocks and boulders that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley in northern Virginia, just off the Appalachian Trail. You have two options to access this overlook: park at the bottom of the mountain and hike up to the overlook via the trail, or drive to the top and access the overlook from the trail located at the trail center.

Hike to the top:
Hiking to the top of Bears Den is great in the spring and fall as the colors of the valley really start to show and make sunsets here especially beautiful. Hiking in the summer and fall is also nice, however the weather can be a little harsh at times. Take Route 7 west until it intersects Route 601 at the top of the mountain. At the base of the mountain, at the intersection of Route 601 and Route 7, is a parking lot where you can park for free and walk the short distance to the trailhead. The trail should be blazed with white trail blazes as it is part of the Appalachian Trail. Follow the trail about a mile to the top and the Bears Den outlook is at the top. Start your hike a little before sunset and get to the top to see one of the best, and little known sunsets in the Shenandoah Valley. The parking lot is also a great jumping off point for multi-day hikes south along the Appalachian Trail and there are also multiple campsites and a trail center at the top for those wishing to plan an overnight trip.

Park at the top:
Parking at the top is the easiest way to access the overlook. Simply drive up the mountain on Route 601 from Route 7 and the entrance to the trail center will be about half a mile up on the right. Follow the path in and park at the roundabout next to the beautifully carved bears in the tree. The trail center asks that you pay a $3 daily parking fee, however if you are just coming for the sunset you can get away most times without paying. Walk up past the campsites, towards the trail center and take your first left (before the trail center) down the path and follow it until you reach the rock outcrop. Again, campsites are available for overnight camping but they are available on a first come first served basis and the trail center recommends you contact them ahead of time to check availability.

Pack List

  • Daypack
  • Water (especially in summer, some days in Virginia can be very humid)
  • Camera
  • Tent and sleeping back if you want to camp at the campground overnight
  • Cash (if you want to park at the trail center, they ask for a voluntary $3 parking fee)
  • Hiking boots or athletic shoes
  • Any snacks or food you may want to bring
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Reviews

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We parked 50 yards off RTE 7 and 601. The trailhead is not well marked out of the parking lot--but it is well worn. Around 600 yards up the blue blaze trail meets the AT. Don't follow the signs to the "Bear's Den Center" unless you want to check out the hostel. Instead stay on the AT. Kids had a blast climbing on the rocks and being outside.

3 months ago
3 months ago

If you're all about a payoff with no effort other than driving this is a winner. Because of that the overlook gets crowded with kids which is great if you have kids and want to show them the mountains. If you don't and are looking to relax quietly at an overlook, you might want to skip this one. Still a nice view to quickly checkout if you're in the area.

4 months ago
4 months ago

Great short hike with views at the top! Great spot to try out trail running or take small children who can't hike very far. You can also skip the hike all together and drive straight to the top. Outlook faces west and is great for sunsets.

4 months ago
4 months ago

Minimal effort for beautiful views year round

5 months ago
5 months ago

Very nice views for little effort. Some of the best views close to D.C.

5 months ago
5 months ago

Beautiful fun and easy!

11 months ago
11 months ago

I've visited Bear's Den in the fall and the winter and stayed for sunset both times. These were honestly the two best sunsets I have ever watched. I highly recommend doing this short hike, it is totally worth it.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Robbie O'Donnell

Coastal Geologist // Photographer

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