Shenandoah National Park – Day 3 Mary’s Rock (BONUS Hike)

Day 3 of our Shenandoah NP vacation’s highlight was the Luray Caverns. The caverns were impressive, but you can only spend a couple of hours there. We went to the caverns first thing in the morning and had the rest of the day. Me being me, I could not waste this opportunity to get in an additional hike in the afternoon.

Following the AT with several switchbacks.

The only ones in my group that had the energy to do this bonus hike were my sons. We picked a hike that was challenging, but close to the Thornton Gap entrance; I did not want to drive too much and we only had so much time. We selected a hike up Mary’s Rock from the Panorama parking area. This was a shorter hike, 3.62 miles, but was considered moderate with some decent elevation gain, 1,688 ft.

Gateway arch created by an ancient tree.

We set out on the trailhead under sunny skies around 3pm. We were the only car in the parking lot. Still in the mid-80’s, it was a steamy start. You follow the AT trail for much of the hike. There are no rock scrambles, only a series of switchbacks as you make your way to the summit.

Rocky scramble to the summit.

The summit was far better than we expected. You arrive at a panoramic view with a single pyramid shaped rock in the center. We could only assume this was Mary’s Rock.

In the distance, we could see some dark clouds approaching. There was not weather predicted, but a thunderstorm must have built up with the heat and humidity of the day. We snapped some quick picture atop Mary’s Rock. I am glad my wife did not join us for the hike, or she would have been nervous for us on the rock. The winds were blowing quite hard in some of the pictures.

View of the Thornton Gap entrance.

We hustled down the mountain the same way we came. Twenty minutes from the summit, it down-poured. We got soaked for about 30 minutes until the storm passed. The sun came out and the humidity kicked in. We were all shirtless prior to the summit, so the rain felt good. My oldest modified his bandana from a headband to a “rain” bandana wearing it over his whole head pirate (gansta?) style.

Me and my sons, still dry.

The was a great hike. It only took us 1.75 hours and were rewarded by a cool rocky, summit with outstanding views. I was glad to have shared this impromptu hike with my son’s. I was also glad no one else in my group came with because of the winds and rain.

Shenandoah Series:


Trip Recap

Maps, Routes and GPS Information

Route Statistics: 3.62 miles, 1,688′ elevation

Caltopo Map:


6 thoughts on “Shenandoah National Park – Day 3 Mary’s Rock (BONUS Hike)”

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