This week my partner in crime, Jim, and I went knocking around near the charming Loudoun County village of Bluemont! We were hoping to take advantage of the sunny winter weather and hoped to take a short hike and grab a drink to warm up afterward. It turns out that Bluemont had everything we were looking for!
After a little research, Jim found a promising hike/brewery combo. The Bear’s Den Overlook Trail is a 2-mile hike along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Appalachian Trail and is conveniently close to the popular Bear Chase Brewery. Both are dog-friendly, so we were able to bring our pup along, too!
There was easy parking in a commuter lot right off Route 7 where the Bear’s Den Overlook trailhead sits. We chatted for a bit with a hearty soul who had just finished doing some “solo winter camping” (!) off the AT. He said the trail was a bit icy but not too bad at all and the view was worth the peril! The up and back hike was immediately pretty as the trail climbed through a rocky forest to its eventual scenic overlook. Wow! – the winter camper was right! – looking west, the high, wide view of the Shenandoah Valley was really something! On the hike back, we took a very slight detour and wandered around the grounds of the Bear’s Den Center (https://bearsdencenter.org). Sitting on 66 acres, the impressive stone mansion was built in the 1930s and is now an official hiker hostel, owned by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It would be fun to spend a night or two there!
I love that in 2017 a group of five friends with a crazy idea to own a brewery together founded Bear Chase Brewery (https://bearchasebrew.com/our-story/). They did a great job putting together a fantastic space with an incredible view. After our hike, we drove up the hill about half a mile and wandered into the brewery to grab a few beers. We figured we’d sit outside because of the dog, but happily, they said to bring him on in. On weekends this place is always hopping regardless of weather, but it was fairly quiet on this cold Thursday afternoon. We thoroughly enjoyed the view and our Gettin’ Squirrely Nut Brown Ale and Buttons the Bear Oatmeal Stout rounds!
On the way home, we made a quick stop at the adorable Bluemont General Store (http://www.bluemontstore.com) on the “main drag” of the village of Bluemont. We were tempted by offerings of “fresh eggs, black walnuts, harness bells, and conversation”, and would have ordered a scoop of ice cream if the weather had been 30 degrees warmer! It’s also worth mentioning that one of my favorite charities is located in this town, Boulder Crest Retreat (https://bouldercrest.org) a non-profit for veterans and first responders. Its mission is to train people to thrive in the aftermath of their trauma.
Slowing down, cruising through a charming old village, walking in nature, taking in vast views to the west and east, sipping good beer with your favorite person, tiring out the dog… without caveat, our three hours spent in Bluemont were pretty near perfect.
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