Pinnacle Picnic Area to Mary's Rock Out and Back

Description: This is a 7.2 mile out and back hike to Mary’s Rock. You’ll climb over the park’s third highest summit, The Pinnacle, en route. You’ll witness several great views along the way and at the final destination, Mary’s Rock. From here you’ll have a 270 degree view of the surrounding area. You’ll be able to take in the town of Luray, Massanutten Mountain with New Market Gap and the tips of the Great North Mountain to the west, Pass Mountain, both Marshall Mountains and the Peak to the north and parts of the Hazel Mountain area and the Piedmont plateau to the east. Coming and going will provide you with southern views of Stony Man Mountain and other prominent peaks. Total elevation gain is around 1250 feet. The most serious climbing occurs on either side of the Pinnacle.

Google Custom Directions to the Pinnacle Picnic Area

The hike starts in the back of the Pinnacle Picnic Area.



Printable/Downloadable Map

Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users



Trail Notes: From the main bathrooms locate the white blazes on the trees to their right. Follow the AT as it parallels the driveway. At one point the trail comes out onto the lawn at a sign with distances indicated for the Pinnacle, etc. From there the trail bears left into the woods for a bit. Shortly come to a spur trail to the right that leads to Jewell Gap Overlook. Turn right staying on the AT.


The AT will switchback and continue north under the overlook (0.43 miles from the start). Begin to climb passing the junction of blue blazed Leading Ridge Tr in another 0.22 miles. The trail will be straight and gradual for a while. As you near the top it will become steeper and weave in and out of rock formations. At 0.59 miles from the last trail junction arrive at a fantastic overlook with views to the south, west and north.


Descend down to a sag in the ridge via a series of switchbacks. The first couple are short and steep. The last two are quite long and gradual. 0.98 miles from the overlook finds you at Byrds Nest #3, a day use only shelter. This is a good break spot. Partial views east of the Hazel Mountain area can be had along this stretch.


Continue north soon coming to a concrete post marking a spring (and a service road that leads to Skyline Drive) to the right. Stay left (straight) remaining on the AT. In another 0.53 miles pass the junction of blue blazed Meadow Springs Tr to the right.


Start to climb here and in another 0.62 miles arrive at the junction of the blue blazed spur trail to the left that leads to Mary’s Rock. You’ll actually walk behind Mary’s Rock just before the concrete post. Turn left and in 0.1 miles arrive at the summit of Mary’s Rock. After enjoying the view retrace your steps back to the car. Keep and eye out for some nice southerly views, including Big Stony Man Mountain.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique this outing



Name:   John S.
Date(s) of Hike: 9/7/2015
Hike Name: Pinnacles Picnic Area to Mary's Rock
Ranking: 4

Outing Critique: This was a nice hike -- not too difficult, but strenuous enough to give two experienced, middle-aged hikers a pleasant workout. Several great views along the way, and the one from Mary's Rock was spectacular. The photo shows the Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah NP as seen from up there. Labor Day weekend is probably not the best time to do this hike if you're looking for solitude.


Name: Galen                                                                                                            Hike: Pinnacle Picnic Area to Mary's Rock Out and Back
Date: 11-26-11                                                                                                       Rating: 4

Critique: Given decent weather, this is a fine walk along the spine of the Shenandoah. A good alternative to the many canyon and hollows hikes. I've been to Mary's Rock via the Meadow Spring Trail but this is a much more interesting route. It takes a mile or two to get away from the car noise of Skyline Drive but past that it's an easy walk (with some modest ups and downs) along a nicely groomed AT with your choice of multiple overlooks. Mostly to the west but you can find a few easterly views. The sunsets must be awesome. I'll be going back with a picnic in mind.


Name: Michael Eckert                                                                                             Hike: Pinnacle Picnic Area to Mary's Rock Out and Back
Date: 8/23/06                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Great views at several points along the AT.  Would be better in the late Fall, Winter or early Spring as trees would have no leaves. Started early and saw several deer on the trail and during the drive up to the Picnic area.  Yellow Jackets were swarming on Mary's Rock.  We planned a long lunch, but had to rush as they were flying all over the place, including landing on us. I guess they might know something about a seasonal change on the horizon.  This hike is not too long with no steep uphill ascents.  My 14 year old daughter did it without any problem.



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