We then turned left up Jones Mountain Trail and climbed a steep incline for 0.5 miles.
The Crane-fly Orchid, or Tipularia discolor, is a member of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae) and blooms June to September. It is the only species of the genus Tipularia found in North America. It is found scattered throughout the eastern and southern U.S. Moths pollinate the plant.
Here is what it looks like close up as well. There were quite a few of these growing in the woods.
Zigzag Goldenrod, Broadleaf Goldenrod, or Solidago flexicaulis, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms July to September. Native to eastern North America, this wildflower grows in rich woods and thickets. These flowers attract both bees and butterflies.
We took a detour to check out Jones Mountain Cabin, out and back 0.6 miles. It is another steep hill (both up and down). Since it is out of the way off the normal trails, the cabin offers good solitude. It seems well maintained and idyllic for a rustic mountain getaway.
Mountain Laurel, or Kalmia latifolia, is a member of the Heath family (Ericaceae) and blooms May to July. There were a couple areas of craggy, thick Mountain Laurel forest along the trails leading to Jones Mountain Cabin and Bear Church Rock. It looked like something out of a fairy tale.
The best time to see Mountain Laurel in Shenandoah National Park is June. I bet these areas of the forest are lovely during this time. We’ll have to go back and see early next summer.
The hike up to the top of the mountain was strenuous. At some points you have to use your hands to climb over mossy slippery rocks. The heat from the summer day and lack of flowing air in the valley did not help. Halfway up, our leg muscles were already burning.
When we reached the top, we and basked in the fresh breeze. The view was beautiful and different from the usual scenery that you see from viewpoints in Shenandoah National Park, which usually feature Shenandoah Valley. The steep climb and large rocks at the top were reminiscent of Old Rag, so we dubbed this hike “Mini-Old Rag.”
Although it doesn’t get featured often, Bear Church Rock it is a little gem in Shenandoah. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenge.