Bear Cliffs via Spring Trail

February 5, 2009 at 8:00 am 3 comments

In December I was in Blacksburg, Virginia so I took the opportunity to explore a new overlook.  I went to Bear Cliffs on Salt Pond Mountain which features a view of the Virginia Tech campus.  

There are a couple of routes you can take to Bear Cliffs.  You can go up the Bald Knob Road (which Tony and I took up to Bald Knob in November) about 0.5 miles and turn left on Bear Cliffs Trail and take a 1.9 rocky miles to the overlook.  Alternatively, you can do what Jimmie and I did– we hiked from the Biological Station off of VA-613 up the Spring Trail about 1 mile to the overlook.

Getting There

It took some research to find the Spring Trail.  From Blacksburg, Virginia, you head west of 460 and turn right on VA-700 to head up to Mountain Lake.  Once at the lake, you bear left on VA-613.  When you get to the fork in VA-613, instead of heading left like you would if you were going to War Spur or Wind Rocks, head right to the Biological Station.

 Bear Cliffs - Sign on 612
Turn right at this fork

As soon as you reach the Biological Station, a burgundy sign is on the left side of the road and a gated fire road is on the right. You can walk up that gated road.

 Bear Cliffs - Parking
This fireroad leads to Bear Cliffs

Trail Markings

Shortly after the fireroad, you’ll start to see small posts on the side of the trail.  If you look closely, you’ll see evidence that you are on the right track.

 Bear Cliffs - Spring Station Sign
A small sign points the way to the spring

Before long, you reach the namesake of the trail, a spring.

Bear Cliffs - Rhodos and Equipment Near Spring
Part of the spring

After the spring, a yellow blazed trail takes you the rest of the way to Bear Cliffs.  it is a heavily blazed trail.  No worries about getting lost here!

Bear Cliffs - Lots of Blazes
At least six blazes in one shot.  The entire trail is as heavily blazed.


At an elevation of 4000 feet, Bear Cliffs has extensive views southeast, including Blacksburg, Virginia.  The rocks at the cliffs are filled with caves and crevices.

Bear Cliffs - Summit Sign
Top of Bear Cliffs

Bear Cliffs - View (Portrait)
View from Top

Bear Cliffs - Lane Stadium (Cropped)
Lane Stadium from Bear Cliffs

Bear Cliffs - Crevice
Crevice in Rocks

Little Things

The views were grand, but it was the little things that really made this hike– the ferns and the lichen, leaves in the ice, the contrast of snow and rocks.  There was plenty to see.

Bear Cliffs - Lichen and Fern Frond
Ferns and Lichen on Rocks at Top

Bear Cliffs - Leaf Imprint in Ice
Leafs and imprints in ice

Bear Cliffs - Jimmie on Snowy Trail
Jimmie on Snowy Trail

Bear Cliffs - Four Seasons, One Log
Four seasons– one shot.  Dried Leaves for Autum, Snow for Winter, Green Moss for Spring and Charred Wood for Summer Forest Fires.

All in all, it was a great outing.  As usual, more pictures of Bear Cliffs are available on my Flickr site.

Bear Cliffs Via Spring Trail 

Trail Map 

Length: 2 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: ~160 Feet

Directions From Blacksburg Virginia

1) Take 460 West

2) Turn right on VA-700 and take about 7 miles to the top of Mountain Lake

3) Bear left on VA-613

4) At the fork, take a right to the Biological Station

Entry filed under: Hiking, Mountain Lake, Salt Pond Mountain, Virginia.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Happy Birthday, Jimmie Dog « TGAW  |  April 15, 2009 at 8:03 am

    […] Bear Cliffs […]

  • 2. Thomas Mc Namara  |  September 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    As the Facilities Manager at the Mountain Lake Biological Station, I have some clarifying comments. The entirety of MLBS is private property, and sadly, we do not provide parking for hiking at any time. Our property begins at the fork dividing Rt 613 and Salt Pond Circle; there is no parking allowed on Salt Pond Circle, the shoulder, or off the road. The “fire road” is actually the Spring Road, and is an active dirt track. We do not allow parking in front of the Spring Road gate at any time. No pets are permitted on MBLS lands at any time. Bikes and/or motorised vehicles are not permitted on our trails. Very sorry to list all the “don’ts”, but as a Biological Reseach Station, we adhere to very strict rules of use.

  • 3. xockram1  |  August 5, 2013 at 10:22 am

    So, Mr. McNamara, why don’t you just ask that this post be removed? All you list is Don’ts. Can’t park anywhere, no pets, no trespassing. And Now you guy’s have taken a page out of the “Cascades” book and want our donations to park before we can hike. KMA, we will stick to the AT and places like Peaks of Otter Near Roanoke that provide scenery without asking for a dime. What is it hurting you to let people park along the road and hike to the Bear cliff’s via this trail? Exactly, nothing. What are you facilitating? The woods? Give us a break.


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