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Old Rag Mountain Hike

363 Reviews
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Old Rag Mountain Hike

363 Reviews
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A. S. wrote a review Jan 2021
Washington DC, District of Columbia30 contributions7 helpful votes
With the rock scrambling and views, this is def one of the most enjoyable hikes in the shenandoah mountain area, for those who can handle somewhat strenuous hikes. The downside is it’s pretty much always crowded on weekends. Weekdays, afternoons, and sunset/sunrise (starting the hike a few hours prior to) timing offers a way to enjoy this hike with less crowding. The northern half of this route is mostly fire road which can be easily navigated by headlamp. The fire road is rather boring in the daytime so hiking that portion at night is actually more enjoyable, especially if you’ve already done this previously in daylight. The listings for this hike on hikingupwards.com and AllTrails provide good direction and information. Due to the scrambling and potential for injury (however small), this is one hike I personally would not do solo. Fee station at parking lot requires fee be paid unless you have a park pass (for Shenandoah NP or Interagency/ all NPs).
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Date of experience: May 2020
1 Helpful vote
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fatalinda wrote a review Nov 2020
Washington DC, District of Columbia56 contributions29 helpful votes
+1
We parked at the Berry Hollow Parking hoping to do the loop in reverse. We soon learned that the mile long lines to pass through the Rock Scramble are only passable in one direction with the amount of foot traffic. It was so crowded!! A lot of posts mention footwear, and while hiking boots are certainly a great help, they are not necessary on a dry day. The most important advice I would share is BRING GLOVES! Climbing through the rocks is very uncomfortable and rough on your hands. The views are beautiful. Can't wait to return again.
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Date of experience: November 2020
2 Helpful votes
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Brendan S wrote a review Nov 2020
Arlington, Virginia1,076 contributions435 helpful votes
The Old Rag hike is a weird experience. Instead of "the great outdoors," it's more like a theme park, with overflowing parking lots and an hour-long queue halfway up the mountain before the rock scramble. If you can get here super-early or on a weekday, I'm sure it's much different, but that's not a practical option for many people as it is 100 miles from the major cities in the area. The hike is notable for the rock scramble that ends at the Summit, which I did not find especially difficult. The biggest challenge was the length. While the NPS lists the hike as a 9.4 mile circuit, it's also 0.8 miles from the parking lot to the start of that circuit and another 0.5 miles from the main parking lot to the remote overflow lots, meaning it was over 12 miles roundtrip for me, and most of it is on broken ground with a lot of elevation. This is a famous hike, and a must-do for Shenandoah NP, and if you can complete it, you can probably handle any NP hike. Still, it's not the most scenic hike, in my opinion, as most of it is just walking through woods, there's little in the way of wildlife because of all the human traffic, and the views from the Summit are no more impressive than dozens of roadside overlooks along Skyline Drive. This is more of an accomplishment hike than one you should do to see breathtaking vistas or natural features.
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Date of experience: November 2020
3 Helpful votes
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Gabrielle wrote a review Nov 2020
3 contributions1 helpful vote
This hike was awesome!!! Super rewarding, excellent views, and really fun. Would definitely recommend going as early as possible. Me and my sister got there at 4:30am on a Saturday and half of the main parking lot was full. 4:30am-5:00am is most likely the best time to go because there were no lines, and comfortable room between hikers. We got passed a couple times as well as passing others but it was nothing crazy. Bring AT LEAST 2 liters of water. It’s a long hike so you are 100% going to need it. Me and my sister aren’t particularly in shape and completed the rock scramble w no problem (just lots of breaks). There are LOTS of narrow sections while bouldering so things will get increasingly harder for you the wider you are and you may have to be creative to finish. The walk down from the peak is harsh on the knees and ankles because of how steep it is. The walk back to the parking lot feels longer than what you’d expect so make sure you bring a positive attitude. It’s a great hike though and would definitely recommend if ur a nature lover in the DMV area. ALSO!! The views are much better than what they look like in pictures, so you are most likely going to be pleasantly surprised.
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Date of experience: November 2020
1 Helpful vote
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Remi L wrote a review Nov 2020
Virginia188 contributions49 helpful votes
Just got back from hiking this bad boy and would recommend it. I always wondered if it would be as hard as people say. While I wouldn't say only certain people should do it...you gotta be prepared for what you are getting into. Today being election Tuesday I figured there wouldn't be too many issues with overcrowding. I arrived at 10:30 am and the two main lots were full. I was one of the first cars in the 3rd overflow but while I was gathering my gear at least 10 more cars full of people arrived. There are portopotty's in the lower overflow lot but actual restrooms in the main parking area. While the ranger station at the lower overflow lot is closed be prepared to bring your wallet/pass with you because the ranger station is open in the main lot at the head of the trail. I did not read the signs that warn of this in the lower overflow lot so unfortunately had to return to my car adding another mile to the overall hike. People say plan the day to do the hike and they are right. I set out from the ranger station at 11 am and was done by 4:30 pm but the sun was disappearing rapidly and I speed walked the last several miles once getting to the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. I also didn't spend a ton of time at the overlooks nor the summit. So what is there to be cautious about? The rocks...oohh the rocks. Slippery when wet is not just a Bon Jovi album. If you've done any research you know about the rock scramble but the rocks along the way are not to be taken lightly either. I was behind a family and watched the father slip on a small rock. He went down hard about 2 miles into the trail hitting his head on some other larger rocks. The family decided to turn back at that time. The boulders are what everyone comes for though. When I bought my trail ticket ($15) the ranger warned of the mile long rock scramble at the top but I truly didn't appreciate what she meant until I got there. Once off the beaten path, it took a minute to orient on how to navigate the trail but once I figured out to look for the blue blazes, it made it slightly easier. I was able to traverse most of the scramble alone but did have to bite the bullet and ask for a hand in a some places mainly because the scramble forced an awkward body position making leverage impossible. Even though it was 61 degrees and a sunny day there was ice in several spots once leaving the tree line and there was some strong winds. Once slipping into an icy puddle, getting a grip on the boulders with the wet shoe was nigh impossible. That's why people recommend good hiking shoes with grip. Going down from the summit using the Saddle Trail to the Fire Road was a nice respite after all the bouldering. Be prepared for 5 more hiking miles after you summit if you do this route. Weakely Hollow Fire Road was well marked after getting off the saddle trail. There's now a new Ridge access trail back to the parking area but the sucker is mostly uphill and feels like torture at the end of a long day of traversing Old Rag.
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Date of experience: November 2020
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