Hike to Mary's Rock Summit in Shenandoah National Park

Meadow Spring Parking Area

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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RT Distance 2.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 1000 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great Views

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.

Nice Views, But Crowded

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!

Awesome Views But Noisy

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.


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