Bear Church Rock

IMG_3033I had an early start to the trail since the weather was going to deteriorate as the day went along.  I arrived at the trailhead around 8:15 and prepared to make the four mile climb.  I was the only one there and I figured that the impending weather would keep the trail pretty desolate.  I left the parking area and headed along the Rapidan River Trail for a half a mile.  The trail was nearly flat and offered nice views of the rapids caused by the churning Rapidan.

IMG_2926I reached the Staunton River Trail and began a steeper ascent.  Almost immediately, a small waterfall (more of a cascade) appeared in front of me.  The waterfall was only about eight or ten feet in height, but it gave me a perfect opportunity to play with the camera’s manual settings to take some waterfall pictures.  In hindsight, I should have read the manual on how to change the aperture and f-stop.  However, five minutes later I was changing the settings like a pro.

I continued on.  The path hugged the Staunton River closely, then swung away only to return around the next corner.  It wasn’t long until I reached the second waterfall.

IMG_2944This waterfall (probably about 15 or 18 feet) was more of a cascade, but it was steeper than the first fall.  Like the first fall, it offered a small area in front of it that was perfect for photography.  I set up the tripod and got to work.  After adjusting the f-stop and aperture settings, I was able to snap some very good photos.

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Above the falls were some weird piles of stones about 50 feet or more from the river.  It looked man-made and quite odd, some I took some pictures.

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I headed onward.  I followed the Staunton River Trail for more than a mile past the second fall, passing several other small waterfalls (about six or eight feet) and many more drops of less than five feet, before reaching the Jones Mountain Trail.  I exited the Staunton River trail on began the climb up the much steeper Jones Mountain Trail.

IMG_2967Now the Jones Mountain Trail is much, much steeper than the Staunton River Trail.  But after 1.2 miles of struggling uphill, I finally reached Bear Church Rock.  Bear Church Rock provides a wide view of the Staunton River Valley (northward) and some very limited views toward the east.  Old Rag Mountain is clearly visible from the rocks.

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The views were not the best in Shenandoah National Park due to the lack of foliage and the limited depth of the view (the Staunton River Valley is less than a mile across), but they views were still worth the effort.  After snacking and photography, I headed back down the mountain.

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IMG_3028I took a small spur trail to the Jones Mountain Cabin (which is a steep descent that must be hiked back up).  The guide I had said that the trip was well worth it.  I found the spur trip not worth the effort, as there were no new additional views (except for a well-designed cabin).

I returned to the parking area, passing more than a dozen other hikers along the Staunton and Rapidan Rivers.

Bear Church Rock: 8.2 miles / 2,210 feet elevation change

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2039116&code=e9abe1575a729290accfeb168b598df9

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One response to “Bear Church Rock

  1. Your picture is much appreciated by me and other people who document these stone piles.

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