Hike Old Rag Mountain
Virginia › Old Rag Parking Lot
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 of many hikers. Sorry no pets.
Be prepared to deal with crowds, especially on the rock scrambles, which tend to cause a bottle neck. I would recommend starting out early, 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 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 mark to indicate 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. 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 marks 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!
- Park pass
- Hiking boots/shoes
- Plenty of water
- Optional: lunch for a picnic at the summit
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Spring, Summer, Autumn
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Get there early!
Like everyone else has already stated, this is an extremely popular hike. Make sure you get to the trailhead really, really early to avoid the crowds, espeically in the spring, summer and fall. During the more popular months it's not uncommon to have to wait in lines to get through the rock scramble section which makes the hike much less enjoyable since you're snaking through at the people's pace in front of you. However this hike is SO MUCH FUN and if you really want to do it I recommend taking a day off during the week to tackle it. Not having the crowds will make the whole experience much more enjoyable.
VERY Popular Hike
This is a VERY Popular Hike but for good reasons. The 360 view at the top is breathtaking. When I first moved to Virginia and who ask people where I should go they all recommended Old Rag. The hike itself is great and the rock scrambled near the summit is a lot of fun. Even though it is popular I highly recommend it.
Most Famous Hike In Shenandoah!
This was my very first hike and what got me hooked. It's pretty strenuous and can get incredibly hot in the summer due to direct sun exposure. I love the rock scrambling at the end -- it's a nice little break from the endless switchbacks! The only reason I don't do this hike more often is that it's not dog friendly.
An Old Favorite
One of my favorite hikes on the east coast, I did it my first time as a fourth grader on a chilly October day, and most recently a year ago at the age of 23 on a warm sunny day. In between were many treks in the rain, sleet, ice and snow. One of the more challenging day hikes in Shenandoah National Park, it offers rock scrambling, and generous uphill climbs, wonderful views. I would recommend skipping the fire road loop and doing the hike as an out-and-back!
In 8th Grade, my middle school class, led by a retired Marine, led us up the bones of Old Rag. The trek was certainly memorable and only overshadowed by my first live sighting of a black bear cub. Never met the mom, thank God.
Worth all the sweat
My friend and I, which I would consider avid hikers, got to the trail around 11:45. The Parking lot had around 5 cars in it, no where near packed. There are Porta bathrooms in the parking lot and they were surprisingly clean and fresh lol. We started on the trail around noon and you begin to ascend almost immediately but its not awful because of the switch backs, however they can look pretty scary. We hiked around 3 miles before the rock scrambles started, the rock scramble was about 1.5 miles long and takes you to the summit. There were two other groups on the trail that we came upon but we never really had to wait for them which was good! Rock scrambles were so much fun, but make sure you have on the right gear! Running sneakers or pants that restrict motion will hold you back. The scrambles require a decent amount of strength in both your arms and your legs or a good partner to give you a boost. We didn't have any issues, but that doesn't mean we didn't struggle at some points! The views at the summit are amazing and the rock formations are very cool! Descent felt like it took forever 6.2 miles (total back to the parking lot you can park in) once you get on the fire road just stay on the fire road! you will see blue markers twice on the way back and we were tempted to take them because of lack of signs after you get on the fire road but we didn't thank god! Overall great day can't wait to go do more hikes in Shenandoah National Park!
Fun Scrambling and incredible views
Old Rag is a classic, must do hike. When you arrive at the parking lot, its takes a .75 mile walk on pavement to reach the trail head. You begin to ascend almost immediately. The rock scrambling that begins a few miles up make the hike lots of fun for the adventurous. The views from the summit are glorious. This hike is well known so start early or try a weekday to make sure you have some space.
It was harder than I initially thought it would be, but it was the best experience I've had. The views were beyond breathtaking! Take caution if you have a bad fear of heights, I think that's the only reason why I thought it was so hard for me.
Great Hike with Relaxing View
My wife and I did this hike and loved it but here's a few tips that we'd do if we had the opportunity to do it again. First launch early as the crowd can slow you down. Second, pack a gourmet lunch. The view at the top is spectacular and the right meal makes it even better. Lastly, go in the fall with the leaves changing or in the spring with new growth coming in. Both offer the perfect weather but if our scheduled permitted we'd go in the fall. Regardless, what's most important is to just go. You won't regret it!
Have done this hike many times, but my favorite is in the fall when the views turn to all orange and yellow :) Definitely try to go during the week and GO EARLY! This hike is really popular and the crowd factor can be kind of a downer if you get stuck behind too many people on the scrambles. Old Rag is a must do for anyone living of visiting the area.
Did the Hike in about 5 hours with my girlfriend with a handful of brief stops. The view points are unreal and the rock scramble at the top is worth the two miles of switch backs! We left early afternoon and barely beat the crowds, so like the article reads, arrive early! Definitely worth a day to hike! Just be aware of bears and don't leave trash lying around! We ran into a young bear digging at something on the trail (probably trash). We plan on heading back in a few weeks to hike this at sunrise in the fall! Wish us luck!
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