Exploring Bear Den Summit at Shenandoah National Park

When I’m looking for a kid-friendly winter hike, I’m looking for something even more important than distance and difficulty level. I’m looking to make sure it’s not going to be too icy. Ice on rocks= bad news for younger kids and one stressed out mama. So we just don’t.  When I found reviews for Bear Den Summit online, I was super excited. An easy hike on a fire road, only 1.2 miles out and back, and minimal gains in elevation with nice views at the top. It sounded perfect, except for a few towers at top but we could deal with that.


This is about how the trail was the whole way up. Nice and easy!

When we arrived at the fire road, there were some very cool rocks around a drain that Little Guy imagined was a wishing well and climbed on for a bit. The fire road was pretty uneventful. There were some pretty cool plants to look at and Little Guy found acorn caps and rocks to add to his collection. About ¾ of the way up, we saw the towers so we knew we were close. These towers were not pretty. But I was determined that once we got to the top it would be worth it. Also, if you hiked up backwards there was a decent view that way.


View at the top with towers at our backs.

Once at the top the gravel fire road gave way to a grassy path. Off the path there were some brambly plants. We walked through those plants. Little Guy got pokeys in his pants. He was not happy about it. Don’t be like us. Once we got the pokey situation under control we went to go sit on some tractor seats that were arranged at the summit. They were cool for a minute but we wanted to explore so we didn’t stay long. Little Guy asked when we were going to get to the top. We were at the top when he asked this. Needless to say the view was very underwhelming for us.


Tractor Seats

So we found a grassy, pokey free place to sit and had some trail mix then walked back down to the car. We were very underwhelmed by this summit so we went to an overlook to watch the sunset instead. I think people in the reviews got Bear Den in Shenandoah mixed up with Bears Den in Bluemont, VA. Bears Den in Bluemont, VA looks much more appealing. It’s a bit farther though so we will have to put that one on the list for a non-work day.


Trail mix break!

I probably wouldn’t suggest this hike. It is definitely kid friendly, but the summit was so underwhelming. There are much better hikes that have minimal effort and maximum payoff. This hike was not it. It was minimal effort but the payoff was minimal too. Shenandoah National Park has so many beautiful places and I feel your time would be better spent exploring them.  So get out there and find them!

What do you look for in a winter hike? Or would you rather just stay indoors to keep warm?

Tell me about your favorite places to explore in Shenandoah national park and enjoy your everyday adventures!