Explore the most popular trails near Madison with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Madison, Virginia Map

Hiked this Jan 12 after a rainstorm the day/night before and there were sections of the trail that was all mud, near the start. I counted 3 small stream crossings, one of them needed a new log thrown over it, as the water had risen above the stepping rocks. Definitely heed the warning everyone else mentions about missing the turns, they are marked, but if your head's down, you'll miss it. The cabin was quiet and the perfect lunch spot, although you can't go inside, it's still cool to see and extends your miles. I suggest going the extra few steps to Bear Church Rocks, after you hit the Summit view. The Rocks don't offer a better view, but they're cool and were quieter than the overview.

2 months ago

Beautiful trail. It had it all, starts off pretty easy following a river, does get a little more strenuous as you get closer to the top, but there’s a patch of beautiful winding laurel trees and a spectacular view at the top. Was a perfect length for a day trip and was not very crowded. I went on a Saturday and saw 3 other hikers. My dogs and I had a great time.

I hiked this trail today with my dog and it's definitely on the upper-end of the "moderate" rating. Make sure you pay attention when you come to the first fork in the trail- it's easy to focus on the yellow trail mark across the creek/river when actually you need to follow the blue trail mark up to Bear Church Rock on the left. The last mile or so of the trail is a pretty steep and a steady incline. Keep focused though, the view is worth it! I went on a Wednesday at noon and didn't have a single other hiker on the trail or summit at all the entire time. The trail itself doesn't seem that traveled as a lot of leaves and branches are covering the trail. I didn't mind- it just made it that more secluded and relaxing!

Did this on a cold overcast day and only saw two other people and one unleashed dog (not with the people I saw, never saw the dog's people). Overall, I really enjoyed the hike, the waterfall, streams, and deep water areas were very pretty. The uphill seemed endless but then you were rewarded with a gentle descent. Part of the climb was quite rocky, but nothing you had to climb over.

Great hike. I missed the second left by 1/4 mile or so due to watching my step and being lost in my thoughts. Once you do take that second left, it gets noticeably steeper. After another left at the third post and you’ll soon be walking thru a beautiful tunnel of mountain laurels. Bear to the right at the next post to reach the summit. It was extremely slippery at the top due to rain from the previous night. Overall an excellent hike that follows the river most of the time. The steepness on the way down killed my knees but that’s expected for me.

Very nice trail with good scenery! Rocky in some places but not too bad. Tough with the fallen leafs everywhere but we all managed. First 3 miles along the River were very nice and flat then the last 1.5 was definitely more challenging but I’m 5 months pregnant and we had our 11 year old son with us and we did it! Be sure to take the left at the first marker for Bear Church Rock. We weren’t paying attention and did an extra mile but luckily there is another left turn further down. Beautiful views at the top! Very enjoyable hike

Great trail, but a strenuous hike. Very rocky and lots of tree roots. Beautiful view at the top. The way down is the way you came and with tired muscles, it’s very easy to trip up. Recommend hiking poles and boots with ankle support for this hike.

Good hike overall. With Jones Mountain Cabin detour did 8.8 miles in 5 hours. Walk along river is easy gentle slope. Trail up to Bear Church summit is at least moderate. Views and rocky area at the top are very nice. Walk back down is a 5/10 in the twist an ankle index. Few nice camping spots along the river.

Great trail! Most of the trail is a gradual incline. Steep near the end, but the last part is semi-steep. Views worth it at the top!

over grown
4 months ago

This trail was very enjoyable. We made it a little longer by going straight instead of left where the 1st trail marker is and then turning back and continuing up the trail. The ground closer to the river has large rocks and more dirt. The trail when starting to incline has more loose rock. I would say I had to look down a good amount on the loose areas to make sure I didn’t trip. The final 1.5-2 miles to the top are pretty steep. You definitely feel the burn and I took a couple breaks. The views from the top are beautiful, although this time of year the stink bugs were abundant. Coming back down I did roll my ankle pretty bad and had to hobble about 3 miles back to the car.... so be careful on the steeper descents, the rocks can be very loose. We did see a black snake and some beautiful tree tunnels closer to the top. Overall really enjoyed it, wish I didn’t break my foot :)

early start advised since the parking area is small and the hike will take about 5hrs round trip. this is a great trail that meanders along the river, singing you some encouragement as you make a gradual 2 mile climb that you almost don't notice. there are beautiful pools and water slides, small falls to greet you along the way. keep an eye out for bears, and civil war skirmish walls around 1.5 miles in. when you make the turn to go up to bear church, be committed! from here it's a strenuous 1.5 that seems longer, a handful of straight stretches to catch your breath followed by "are we still going up!" sections. there's an obvious bear den up hill in the blueberry patch section, just stay alert. when you reach the rock, all the moments of "who picked this?" disappear and you realize this really is an amazing place. beautiful views, peaceful moments, and only a handful of visitors. we paced it at 9.1 miles so don't get discouraged... just bring water and a snack. enjoy the view!

The view at the top is TOTALLY worth the climb. Gets steep at the top and if you go down to the cabin it definitely is steep, however there is one little overlook to your left about a half to a quarter of the way to the cabin that made for great pictures

Lovely hike along the Staunton River. Went on a Saturday morning, no one else on the trail till we were coming down. Very peaceful. Steady climb up, quite humid with lots of gnats. Loved the view at the top. Totally worth it! Highly recommend.

Great trail. Ran closer to 8 miles and the Jones Mountain Trail was a nice trade off back to the AT. Enjoyed all the rick formations in that goat trail. Done Mill Prong before, but this was the first time we did the loop. Good time.

I went on a Monday morning at 8am and had almost the entire trail to myself. Not too hard of a trail, my GPS said about 7.5 miles and it took me just under 4 hours including a break at the top and a few breaks at the water. Bugs/gnats got annoying by 11am in August.

Great trail, but pretty steep the last few miles. Very well marked and love that it follows the river. Would do again.

I cannot for the life of me figure out how we went wrong on this trail, but we ended up at just over 10 miles, and did no backtracking. I would agree with other comments - very rocky, wear sturdy shoes. Extremely buggy, bring bug spray. Bring a walking stick. For us, creeks were easy to cross. Didn't see any wildlife. Best part was probably the Hoover Camp and seeing the old fireplaces, reading the plaques, and enjoying the area. An amazingly hard slow and LONG uphill climb by Cat Knob. I found this hike to be quite the work out. Maybe I'm getting old. I was expecting the 7+ miles and the 10 was overwhelming.

Hiked 20 July 2019 with Lauren. I also hiked this 12 years ago with two good friends. The trail has a little bit of everything you’d find in Shenandoah.

Definitely a great hike! The view at the top is beautiful! Definitely a work out! I would highly recommend going earlier to get a spot. We took our dog along the hike he loved the river stops along the route.

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