We’ve got another birthday hike for you! My birthday is at the very beginning of October and to celebrate I wanted to try out a new hike and brew combo (big surprise). We went all the way out to Bluemont, Virginia to do Raven Rocks along the Appalachian Trail and to stop at Bear Chase Brewery right across the road. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate! We had excellent weather, good beer, and a fantastic hike. Cheers to another year around the globe.
THE HIKE: Raven Rocks via Appalachian Trail
Length: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,535 ft
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: small lot so plan accordingly
Raven Rocks is a popular section of the Appalachian Trail in Bluemont, Virginia. It was a bit out of the way for us Maryland folks, but totally worth it! We started at the trailhead right off Harry Byrd Parkway/ VA 7. Although we were lucky to snag a spot, this parking lot is pretty small and there is NO STREET PARKING. You will get towed! As an alternative, you can park at the Snickers Gap Lot which adds 0.4 miles at either end of the hike. I was uneasy about parking here since it requires walking across the divided highway. If you park there please use EXTREME caution when crossing the road!
Most of this trail is fairly moderate, but there are a couple really rocky spots combined with elevation increases, so I’ve bumped it up to a Difficult rating. This was definitely a hike where I wished I had a walking stick or hiking poles at times. I really loved the challenge though! Sometimes a nice nature walk hits the spot, but other times I love scrambling over rocks and getting my heart rate up! Also I loved seeing all of the mushrooms and acorns along the trail. Despite the warm October we’ve been having, it felt a little like fall!
After a lot of winding up and down the trail (they don’t call this the Roller-Coaster for nothing) we made it to the overlook. It was so impressive and such a peaceful place to stop. We’ve seen a lot of rocky overlooks during our hikes, but I never get tired of them! This was quite a roomy overlook so there’s plenty of room even on a busy day. We relaxed for a while and eventually decided to head back down. Make sure you have really good shoes for this hike because some of the downhill is more difficult than going up! Close to three hours after we started, we made it back to our car. We had worked up quite a thirst and were so lucky that Bear Chase Brewery was so close!
THE BEER: Bear Chase Brewery
Address: 33665 Bear Chase Ln, Bluemont, VA 20135
Distance from Trail Head: 0.9 miles, 3 mins
Food?: Full Menu, No outside food
H&H Rating: 4/5
Bear Chase Brewery is located off VA 7 and is the perfect stop for hikers. In fact, the AT runs right behind their facility so you could add to your Raven Rocks hike to go to the Bear’s Den overlook. Or even further to Buzzard Rocks. The possibilities are endless! We stuck with Raven Rocks and then drove to the brewery since I really wasn’t into crossing that huge highway.
Bear Chase Brewery is a farm brewery located on a massive 35 acre property that offers plenty of places to relax with a handcrafted brew. For a pretty penny, you can even rent out the Bear Chase Manor for you and 13 of your closest friends! There’s also plenty of on-site restaurants and food trucks so you’ll never go hungry! Just note that no outside food is allowed. We weren’t expecting this and had to eat our packed lunch later on! We really enjoyed the views and atmosphere at this brewery. As an apartment dweller, I relished being able to kick back in an adirondack chair and take in the rolling hills as I sipped a decent beer. We only had one round here since we had a long drive ahead of us and we both thought the Mornin’ Sunshine was the best of the two. It had a really refreshing hop taste that was balanced by something fruity, guava maybe? Definitely hit the spot after our hike. Overall, I liked this brewery but I thought it toed the line of being, dare I say, too commercial? It felt a bit like one of those places that puts more into the location and the atmosphere than their actual product. But hey, I only tried two beers so I can’t be certain on that!
- Mornin’ Sunshine – American IPA – 6.7%
- Oktoberfest Marzen – Marzen – 6%
SUM UP: Raven Rocks is a popular section of the Appalachian Trail in Bluemont Virginia. It has a small lot which fills up quickly. There is another parking location but it involves crossing a divided highway so be cautious. The trail itself is very rocky with lots of ups and downs. Wear good shoes and bring plenty of water. The 5.7 mile out-and-back trail has a turn around point at a beautiful overlook that’s a perfect place to have a snack and relax. After your hike, check out Bear Chase Brewery, a newer farm brewery only 0.9 miles up the road. It’s a huge facility with lots of food options and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. May I suggest the Adirondack chairs overlooking the valley? If you have time, there are so many other breweries to check out in the area! We’ll definitely be back.