Photographing Shenandoah NP: Betty's Rock
Photographing Betty’s Rock
Location: Shenandoah National Park- Central District
Best time of year to photograph: Year Around
Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunset
Distance: 0.7 mile Out and Back
This hidden treasure is located in Shenandoah National Park Central District between two very popular hikes, Hawksbill Mountain and Stony Man Mountain, and offers an outstanding sunset view without the crowds.
(22mm, 1/5sec, F/16, ISO 100)
To reach Betty’s Rock, park at Crescent Rock Overlook located at mile marker 44.5 along Skyline Drive. Betty’s Rock Trail head begins on the north end of the outlook where the sidewalk and rock wall end. Around 100 yards past the outlook, hikers will come to a trail junction - stay straight at the junction. The trail parallels Skyline Drive for the first 0.1 miles before slowly drifting west. If you start descending toward the Appalachian Trail, you are heading the wrong way. Betty’s Rock Trail is well marked and easy to follow. Over the 0.35 miles, hikers will only gain about 150 feet in elevation. The trail dead ends into the the rock, so it is impossible to miss. After hiking to the top of the rock, hikers will be rewarded with a great west facing view.
(18mm, 1.3sec, F/16, ISO 100)
Betty’s rock gets hikers above the trees creating a 180 degree west facing view. Hawksbill Mountain is located to the southwest and Stony Man is located to the northwest. If you are photographing from Betty’s Rock around the summer solstice, June 21, the sun sets in the northwest behind Stony Man Mountain. If you are photographing Betty’s Rock in the fall or winter near the winter solstice, December 21, the sun sets in the southwest and will dip behind Hawksbill Mountain. Betty’s Rock is a large greenstone outcropping with some interesting vertical pieces, which can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images. If you are going to be photographing the sunset, remember to bring a headlamp or flashlight for the hike back to your vehicle. To complete the hike, follow the same trail 0.35 miles back down to your vehicle.
I hiked Betty’s Rock during the peak fall season when Shenandoah is packed with visitors, but I did not see a single person on the trail or at the rock. This is a great hike to view the sun setting in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains while being able to enjoy the quiet of nature. Also, if you are like me and have small kids, this is a outstanding beginner hike for them. It’s short, not too steep, and has a great vistas for them to enjoy. If you would like to add another short hike, check out Little Stony Man Cliffs which is located 5.5 miles north along Skyline Drive.
Learn More: Essential Landscape Photography Tips, Photographing Shenandoah National Park
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