Hiking Bear Church Rock & Fly Fishing on the Rapidan River


This past weekend the four of us (Michael, Ian, Emily and I) were supposed to go on Ian and Emily's first backpacking trip in the Dolly Sods together. However, in an unfortunate series of events, a cold front was projected to move through the area with below freezing temperatures at night and for the two nights leading up to the trip it dumped snow on the whole area as well. The conditions were not ideal for a first time backpacking trip so instead we decided to postpone our trip to later in the summer and spend the weekend in Richmond then go out for a good hike on Sunday along with a little bit of fly fishing. We chose Bear Church Rock because the entire first half of the hike runs along the Rapidan and Staunton rivers. The day was absolutely gorgeous; around 75 degrees and sunny. The park has started to wake up into Spring and there were baby green leaves, buds on trees and little wildflowers lining both sides of the trail. The Rapidan River has some of the best native brook trout fishing in all of Virginia which makes for a perfect fly fishing spot after a long hike. Hiking up to Bear Church Rock is a lot of fun with the first half of the hike being uphill but leisurely; your heart rate will certainly be elevated but you can carry on little conversations and not run out of breath. However the last climb to the summit is intense and the trail literally shoots uphill... you will definitely be huffing and puffing by the time you reach the summit. For more info on the hike go here. After enjoying some snacks and catching our breath while taking in the view we hiked back down the mountain to do a little fly fishing. One of our favorite holes on the river is a short distance from the parking lot so we sent the guys back to the car to get the poles ready and Emily and I sat on big boulders in the river to sunbathe. I stripped of my shoes and flexed my feet in the freeeeezing cold mountain water- something you absolutely have to do after a good, long hike. Only one fish was caught (by Michael) and it was a little, but beautiful, brook trout. Ian and Emily had to leave earlier than us since they were heading back to DC but Michael and I stayed about an hour longer hiking back up the river in search of some new pools. It was a long day but it was a fun day and we couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!