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Old Rag Mountain Loop

Etlan, Virginia

4.7/5
based on 27 reviews

Details

Distance

8.95 miles

Elevation Gain

2510 ft

Route Type

Loop

Description

Added by Susan Billings

Old Rag mountain is a beautiful hiking destination, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Shenandoah National Park. This 9 mile circuit offers breathtaking panoramic views the entire way and is a favorite trail of many hikers. Sorry no pets.

Be prepared to deal with crowds, especially on the rock scrambles, which tend to cause a bottle neck on this trail in Shenandoah National Park. I would recommend starting out early on this loop hike, around 6 or 7 am to avoid the crowds. Definitely arrive no later than 9:30am, as the parking lot fills up quickly.

From the Old Rag parking area, walk about a mile up SR600 following it as it veers left. From there you will be at the beginning of the park boundary. Look for a post with a blue blazes marking the Ridge trail. This trail has a slightly steep incline and will lead you through a green luscious forest. About 2 miles in, you will reach your first view point. Be sure to have your camera ready! From there, the trail gradually becomes more rocky and the last mile before the summit is a challenging, but very fun, rock scramble.The trail during the scramble tends to get backed up because there are some narrow and tight spots that can only fit one person at a time. However, you can take advantage of your waiting time by snapping some great photos of the 360 degree view. When you reach the summit, you will realize why you hiked and scrambled 4+ miles to get to the top – IT’S BEAUTIFUL! I would suggest packing a lunch for the summit, so you can sit back, relax, eat your sandwich and enjoy the scenery. If you ever get lost or are unsure of which way the trail goes, just keep an eye out for the blue marks that line the trail.

To finish the circuit, follow the signs posted at the summit to Saddle Trail. (While on the Saddle Trail, keep an eye out for a view of Balanced Rock near the Byrd's Nest Shelter. ) This trail will lead you past Old Rag Shelter to Weakley Hollow Fire Road, which you will follow for about 2.5 miles back to the parking lot.

If you ever get lost or are unsure of which way the trail goes, just keep an eye out for the blue blazes that line the trail.

If you’d like a nice glass of wine to enjoy afterwards, check out Sharp Rock Vineyards, located on the foot of Old Rag Mountain at 5 Sharp Rock Road. It's just a short drive from the parking area and is a perfect place to unwind after a long hike!

Helpful Links

Shenandoah National Park Service website - (540) 999-3500

Trail Map

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Features

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Hiking
Forest
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Reviews

This is one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. The map on this app is a little inaccurate because they’ve added a new trail head - the hike is 9.5 miles all together. It took me and my friend 4.5 hours to complete. The rock scramble before the summit is tough and some of the rocks are VERY slick from being climbed on. Once you reach the summit it is an easy 5 miles back to the car. Would 10/10 recommend.

Fun. Popular/crowded but it is nice to have a hike that involves some short scrambles at the top. You will have to lift yourself up and squeeze through boulders multiple times but it is never exposed.

It doesn't get much better than Old Rag. Yes, the crowds are insane. Yes, it gets congested. Arrive early and you'll have the trail to yourself and a couple other smart planners. Oh, and just because its popular doesn't mean its easy... its a difficult hike with some rock scrambling. I've seen many folks/families have to turn around just a couple miles in...

Once you get to the rock scramble it’s an amazing hike

I have been waiting years to do this hike as each time I made plans the weather was icy/rainy! It was definitely worth the wait! We got there at 10:30am and were able to get parking in the lot, however it was a Thursday. The hike up is definitely tough, but once you get to the rock scrambles your pace slows down. Highly recommend having a friend go with you as I wouldn’t have wanted to be doing the rock scrambles on my own. The rock scrambles also require lots of upper arm/core strength in addition to strength in your legs. It’s the day after and I am sore as can be. Once you get to the top, there are about 3 overlooks you can view and eat lunch. After an exhilarating climb up, the hike down is rather boring in comparison. Being already tired on the way down was really tough, as you need to walk on an almost flat gravel/dirt road for about .8 miles. DO NOT WEAR SNEAKERS. I wore hiking boots and saw many people in sneakers, the tread and ankle support in my boots helped me so much! I only wish the way down was more interesting rather than walking on a flat road. Took us about 5-6 hours to complete the whole loop.

It's definitely a strenuous hike, but the view is worth it.

Great place to hike and a great workout! Completed 7.5 mike loop in 4 hours. Going up was the most difficult part; following Ridge Trail is pretty easy with several switch backs until you hit the 2800 ft mark and enter the “Rock Scramble” here the trail becomes a little more difficult to follow and your workout begins, at times you may find yourself doing a little bouldering / rock climbing. Due to the frigid temps, it was a bit slick at times and took additional time to complete the rock scramble. My camelback insulated hose actual froze during the hike. Once you reach the summit your reward is stunning views of the various peaks within Shenandoah. Heading back to the parkinglot it’s easy, all down hill following Saddle Trail then Weakley Hollow Fire Rd, aprx 5 miles, overall very rewarding hike

Great hike and great views bring snacks water and a camera it’s hard going up but going down is a breeze definitely worth It

Simply the best. Full body workout, pack water, and be prepared for 4-6 hours.

Although it should be a given, don't do this alone. It's easy to get lost at the top, and I got pretty scared (especially because it was winter and snowing). Definitely my fault, but still something to look out for. It's super, super windy up there, but the views are awesome. I still recommend it overall, though.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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