Hike to Mary's Rock Summit in Shenandoah National Park

Meadow Spring Parking Area, Luray, Virginia, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2.8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1000 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic

A beautiful hike with expansive views of Shenandoah National Park and the valley below.

Mary’s Rock is just south of the Thornton Gap Entrance in Shenandoah National Park’s Central District. This write-up details the hike from the Meadow Spring Parking area, but there are alternate routes starting from the Panorama parking area (3.7 miles round trip), Jewell Hollow Overlook (6 miles round trip) and Buck Hollow parking area (9 miles round trip). The Meadow Spring option is the shortest route to the summit, which is my preferred choice when hiking to see the sunset.

The Meadow Spring Parking area is just past the Hazel Mountain Overlook on Skyline Drive, at mile 33.6. Across the street from the parking area, the trail begins 50 yards south along Skyline Drive. The Meadow Spring Trail is marked with blue blazes and is easy to follow. Most of your elevation gain will be on this first stretch of the hike, which is 0.6 miles in length. Look for the old homestead about halfway up.

After reaching the junction with the Appalachian Trail, turn right and follow the white blazes. This section of the trail is mostly flat and will provide a few viewpoints before reaching the Mary’s Rock Lookout Trail. Turn left at the next intersection and follow the trail for a short walk to the summit, where you will find a 180 degree view that includes the Shenandoah Valley, surrounding mountains, and the Thornton Gap Entrance. The rock outcropping is a great place to eat lunch, especially if you chose one of the longer route options. It is also one of the best places in the park to watch the sunset. To return, retrace your steps back to the parking area (be mindful of the trail junctions; you can easily miss a turn and end up at the wrong parking area!)

Although Shenandoah National Park is open year-round, Skyline Drive may be closed in the winter due to weather conditions. Always check for closures before you head out! If you’re thru-hiking, Byrd’s Nest Shelter #3 is 0.7 miles south of the junction with the Meadow Spring Trail on the Appalachian Trail and is available for overnighters.

For a hiking map of the area, visit NPS.gov (or ask for one at the park entrance).

Pack List

  • Shenandoah National Park pass (or pay the $20 entrance fee)
  • Camera
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Water
  • Lunch to enjoy at the summit
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Reviews

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Did this with my 5 and 8 year old and it was rocky and uphill the majority of the way. The canopy kept the sun off of us and the summit is spacious and beautiful. Great place to have a nice lunch.

7 months ago
7 months ago

Due to its location right next to the Thornton Gap entrance, expect a lot of hiking traffic. I hiked it from the Panorama parking area, and the ascent is gradual but steep at times. A good aspect of this hike is the size of the summit-there is room to climb up some of the rocks and spread out so it doesn't feel as crowded. The views to the north are just gorgeous!

8 months ago
8 months ago

The one real negative on this hike is it is so close to the Thorton Gap entrance, you get a lot of road noise while hiking and from the summit. The views are great and it is an easy trail to find as it is right at the Panorama Station.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Worth it 100% A moderate hike well worth the effort.

10 months ago
10 months ago

This is the perfect Shenandoah Day hike. It's close to the park entrance, you'll get your heart rate up, and the view is incredible!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Easily my favorite overlook in the park-there's a relatively easy way up to a 360 degree view (just make sure you have good footing). Haven't been up for a sunset yet but i am willing to bet it will be amazing when I make it up there one evening.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Quick and relatively easy hike to a beautiful view!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Did an early spring hike, starting from the Jewell Hollow Overlook. A great hike for someone who wants a solid hike without too much of a challenge. The trail can be rocky in places. There are 3 or 4 small outcroppings as you hike with great views looking westward. Once you get to Mary's rock, you can climb up for a 360-degree view. There is plenty of space to grab lunch but shade immediately near the rock is limited. All in all an amazing hike.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Sarah Giek Explorer

Teacher by day. Explorer by weekend.

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