Tag Archives: Shenandoah National Park

Climbing Around in Shenandoah

After a long day on the road that started in Knoxville, Tennessee, we ade it to Shenandoah National Park in time to view a great sunset. The next day was for exploring the park. Driving along Blue Ridge Parkway we came upon a trailhead and stopped to see where the trail lead. It was Bearfence trail leading to Bearfence Overlook, a nice 1 mile hike to start out on.

Climbing up Bearfence trail

There are two options to hike on Bearfence. First, you can take the Appalachian Trail for most of the way to the overlook and then cut up on Bearfence Trail to arrive at a beautiful mountain view or you can take Bearfence Trail most of the way climbing up and over sharp rocks for a good portion of the mile. Which one would you take? The rock scramble route it is.

The Rock Scramble

The trail starts out on a portion of the Appalachian Trail but quickly begins climbing up into the mountainous rocks of Shenandoah. Some of these areas are fairly steep and go over sharp plates angled up towards the sky. Navigating through the trail requires following blue painted markers on the rocks which are fairly easy to find among the different boulders.

Taking a break

As we neared the top we took a few moments to enjoy the views around us before continuing to the Bearfence overlook. On this beautiful sunny morning we could see several valleys and hills covering miles from these gray colored boulders covered in multiple colors of lichens. The wind was blowing strong enough that we had to be a little careful in our steps otherwise we would be moved off of the trail and in the wrong spot that could result in slipping causing an injury.

Plants growing in the rocks

Something that struck me as interesting was the pockets of water tucked amongst these massive rocks making up the mountain and the different types of plants growing out of the rocks. In a single grouping, such as the one in the photo above, you would have moss, ferns and sedum all protected in a crevice. Moss and ferns generally like moist conditions while sedum tend to thrive in dryer situations which is why these plants growing in the same spot seemed odd to me. Does that indicate the different conditions over a year that combine to create a harsh environment? Wet at times and dry in other times?

Nearing the top

Continuing on the trail, we climbed up and around rocks and boulders as we explored all it had to offer forgetting the workout required to get to the top. It was just fun to experience the Appalachians in Shenandoah National Park in this manner. We were never sure where the end was or if we passed it so we just followed a trail and kept on hiking.

Bearfence Lookout

The end became very obvious because there was no more trail on top of a rock with drop offs on three sides. Once again the views were amazing as we looked out over the neighboring hills separated by meandering valleys and trees all around us typical of these mountains. After a short time we worked our way back to the car, off to explore other areas of this National Park.


Lewis Falls Trail

After a full day of hiking in Shenandoah National Park, it was time to retire to our cabin and get ready for our evening meal. The only thing was that the forecast for the next day was for clouds and periods of rain and we had one hike left to do in our short time in Shenandoah – Lewis Falls Trail. This was the most important of our hikes in this great national park because it was the trail on our National Parks Monopoly board. It was decided then, another hike that was longer and covered more altitude than the others we had completed earlier in the day.


This trail is 3.3 miles round trip from our cabin and back again. It’s not the distance that makes it more challenging, it the 1,000 feet of altitude that you change from the start to the waterfalls and then you have to climb that 1,000 feet again on the way back. To make things a little more challenging, we wanted to get back before 9 pm when the nearest restaurant closes otherwise there is not really a place to get food after a full day of hiking in Shenandoah.

Looking over the top of the Falls

The trail starts out relatively flat and easy to hike but eventually that drop in altitude finds you and it starts going downhill quickly. Downhill is easier but remember to watch out for roots and rocks in the trail that could trip you. We made it to the falls in pretty good time passing only a couple of other hikers on the way. Lewis Falls

Lewis Falls is a nice waterfall and one of the highest in the park at 81 feet tall but at the time we were there the stream going over the cliff is not very large compared to several other waterfalls in the park. Getting a good view during the summer is a little more challenging because parts of the waterfall are covered with leaves and the steep cliffs around it make for getting a different and better view difficult. Still, I enjoyed this waterfall and the adventure to get to it.

Our Wildlife Encounter on Lewis Falls Trail

Due to time restraints and wanting to get back before the restaurant closes we didn’t spend much time at the falls taking it in. Also, we weren’t well prepared to be on the trail after dark so we needed to do the most difficult portion of our hike at a faster pace. Along the way back we encountered a deer taking the trail toward us which was kind of fun to see but delayed our return both because of wanted to observe the deer and not wanted to chase it. After awhile of watching it decided to meander off the trail allowing us to pass and continue our trek up the mountain. We were all really tired and hot after this hike but we did manage to get something to eat before total darkness enveloped the area.

Dinner in the Big Meadows Lodge