|View of Humpback Mountain and Devil's Knob from Bear Den Mountain|
Access: Trailhead on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park entrance fee required
This is not one of the most exciting hikes in Shenandoah. It is certainly pleasant and there are some interesting views, but I would not recommend this as an introduction to the park; it is probably better for hikers more familiar with the park who want to check out some different perspectives on the Blue Ridge. Bear Den is on a low section of the range and the summit is actually outside the park, despite the hike starting on Skyline Drive.
I did this hike on my busiest weekend of the year in December. Because of its proximity to Charlottesville, I figured I could do this hike and get back to homework within two hours, which ended up being a fair assessment. I left Charlottesville early in the morning, headed up I-64 to Rockfish Gap, and drove five miles into the empty park to the trailhead. The trailhead is at mile 99 of Skyline Drive, at Beagle Gap.
From the Beagle Gap parking area, I crossed the drive and walked through a gate in the fence onto the Appalachian Trail. At this point, Shenandoah National Park is literally just Skyline Drive and the few yards of land immediately bordering it. Thus, as soon as the trail left the drive, it headed on non-federal land. I hiked up the slight incline through the grassy field at Beagle Gap, which is maintained by mowing. Early morning sunlight lit the scene around me.
|The fields at Beagle Gap|
|The radio towers atop Bear Den|
One of the odder things at the top of Bear Den was a ring of tractor seats buried into the ground. Why are there tractor seats atop Bear Den? I'm not sure. The seats made a good rest spot before I headed back to Beagle Gap to finish this short hike.
|Tractor seats atop Bear Den Mountain|