September 23, 2012.
I’d been all over the mountainside, but I’d never been to Bear Heaven. After getting directions from a friend, I headed up to see what it was all about. Essentially, you take the Stuart Recreation Area exit from Route 33 on to old route 33. You turn onto the same road that takes you to Stuart, but you make the right instead of the left that you’d take to enter the park. You’ll pass the entrance to the Bickle Knob Fire Tower on your way- that’s definitely worth stopping by, as well.
Sadly, my camera didn’t like how fast I was taking photos at Bear Heaven and my SD card was fried at the end of the trip, so I only have two surviving photos from that day. 😦
However, here’s the description: As you pull up to the campground, you’ll park in the loop (don’t drive down through the campground.) Make your way toward the outhouse looking structure and make a right. You’ll pass through several large boulders and rock walls here. It’s definitely possible to climb on these (some routes are bolted, others are bouldering.) From here, you can choose your own adventure. Going down will lead you to a nice climbing area. Going straight ahead will lead you (with a little scrambling) up to the top of one of the large rocks, which has quite a nice view. Many trails wind their way through the rocks, but it’s easy to keep from getting lost as you explore. Many cave-like areas exist between the rocks, as well.
As you can tell by the way we’re dressed, it’s definitely not a strenuous hike by any means. We even brought a german shepherd puppy with us!