The Meadow Spring Trail is a short spur trail that cuts up to the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. Starting at about 2510 feet, the trail heads up to the steep ridge between Mary's Rock and The Pinnacle.
The benefits of hiking Mary's Rock via the Meadow Spring Trail are:
1) It is shorter, leaving you more time to hike other mountains
2) You can also hike The Pinnacle, which is not far out of your way, once you reach the AT
3) This trail allows you to approach Mary's Rock from the south, where there are several rock climbing/boulder hopping opportunities
Rock face as you approach Mary's Rock from the Appalachian Trail Northbound.
The trailhead is off of Skyline Drive. To get to Skyline Drive you take 66 West from Washington DC, to exit 43A, Gainesville (US Route 29 south). Follow Route 29 to Warrenton where you take US Route 29 business. Once in town, make a right hand turn on Route 211 which intersects with Skyline Drive at the Thornton Gap Entrance. As you are driving up to Thornton Gap on 211, Mary's Rock is clearly visible in front of you.
Drive south down Skyline Drive. Go through the tunnel, to the first parking area past Hazel Mountain Overlook to the Meadow Spring Parking area.
Round Trip Hiking mileage: 2.7 miles.
Elevation Gain: 674 feet.
Park at the Meadow Spring Parking area 2840'. Do not take the trail at the parking area. Instead, cross Skyline Drive to the trail marker. Go up the trail for a 1/2 mile until you reach the Appalachian Trail. The trail is pretty steep, as you gain over 400' in 1/2 a mile. When you reach the Appalachian Trail (at about 3200') you take the AT North for 0.6 miles. There is then a spur trail to the summit. Climb the rocks to the true summit.
Approaching Mary's Rock
However, you can climb it in a creative way that involves some rock climbing. Once you get near the summit, you can climb the huge rock face and bushwhack to the summit.
Bug Spray in summer and fall is recommended.