Old Rag Mountain Hike
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5.0
384 reviews
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Gautam R
Laurel, MD207 contributions
May 2021
This is an amazing hike in Shenandoah National Park. The entrance to the hike is outside the park, but there is an entry fee. We arrived at 7:30 on a May Saturday and we got parking by the entrance, and it was not too crowded.

This definitely a unique strenuous hike. There are rock scrambles with narrow passes and areas requiring the ability to use one's arms to pull up. Parts of this scramble are single file, and easy to see why lines can form on the top. Carrying a large pack in this area can affect maneuverability.

The altitude changes are not unreasonable, and at 9 miles, it is not too long. What sets this hike apart is the approximately 1 mile ridge scramble on the ridge. There are views on both sides of the mountain, and plenty of view points to sit and have a snack or lunch.

The fire road following the summit is a nice respite from the altitude changes, but at 3-4 miles, is a little long and slo paced, but does go by a stream.
Written May 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

luv4phood
Marietta, GA714 contributions
Apr 2022
This is a fun hike only a 2 hour drive from DC. There is a reservation system in place for this hike. Unfortunately, there were people in line ahead of us who made the drive and were unaware that reservations were required. It is a nominal charge for the advance reservation. From the trailhead, the hike climbed quickly which definitely earned it the rating of strenuous. A lot of reviews discussed the danger of the rock scramble that hikers reach at about the 2.5 mile mark. This is not a climb, but a scramble. It is a little adventure around each corner. Take your time and enjoy the scenery!
Written June 22, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Brendan S
Arlington, VA1,346 contributions
Nov 2020
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.
Written November 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Adam V
1 contribution
Nov 2022 • Friends
I hiked Old Rag the Monday before Thanksgiving and had an incredible experience.

Some takeaways from my trip:

Driving: I left DC at 6am and pulled up just after 8am. It would’ve been sooner but I got turned around because my GPS stopped working. Plan ahead for that if you’re going for the first time.

Parking: The Old Rag parking lot was pretty empty when we arrived. Because we arrived fairly early on a Monday, we had no problem pulling right up and finding a space near the front.

Weather: When we arrived the temperature was below freezing. We noticed frozen-over creeks and icicles throughout the the trail. Given how cold it was, in hindsight I should’ve packed hand warmers. Even though I had gloves and quickly worked up a sweat bouldering, my hands were cold for half the hike. By the time we finished the hike the temps had climbed to 55 degrees

Trail: From the trailhead, I underestimated how long the ascent along switchbacks would take. Based on other reviews I read it said ~2 miles but really it seemed like 3 miles before reaching the boulders. Prepare to workout your glutes, quads, and hamstrings! I found the bouldering section to be my favorite part because of how challenging it was. You definitely need good upper body strength for some parts. The summit is breathtaking but so are several of the false summits — don’t forget to stop and snap photos on the way up. My least favorite leg of the hike was the descent. Walking downhill and then trekking over rocky roadways for several miles killed my feet.

Food/Beverage: I packed some energy gummies, seasoned nuts, and jerky. I also had a 3L hydration pack of water but only drank maybe 32 oz.

Overall: I’m glad I did this bucket list hike with two other people. While you can go it alone, I’d recommend at least one other person. Aldo, don’t try this hike if you haven’t done a difficult-but-smaller hike first as it might push your limits. My group was pretty conditioned and finished in 5.5 hours, which included a few stops along the way to the summit and a nice break at the top.
Written November 21, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ka
Montvale, NJ2 contributions
Apr 2022 • Family
We hiked the loop from the Berry Hollow Parking Lot because we followed our vehicle GPS (oops) but it worked out just fine meaning we got a spot (mid-week around 10:30). I left my Old Rag passes on my dashboard and the NP pass hanging from my rear view mirror because the lot didn’t have anyone there to check for the passes. There was a Park Ranger checking for our Old Rag passes at the start of the loop about 0.8 miles from the parking area. We had two kids ages 9 & 10 with us. We packed lots of water, sandwiches, snacks. It was a great hike for all of us. It wasn’t crowded, only 1 short holdup to wait for someone to figure out how to get up one section of scramble. The kids were just big enough (tall & strong enough) to handle the scrambling with almost no assistance. Doing the loop from Berry Hollow allowed us to start & end on a woods road. The water sources were not really where we might have needed them, early and late in the hike (we always carry a water filter).
Written April 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Robert M
2 contributions
May 2021
Having hiked Old Rag more than 30 times in the last 7-8 years, I can tell you this is a phenomenal hike. It will test your endurance and strength, but is very doable for someone in moderately good shape. Like any National Park, the pictures don't do it Justice. If you choose to do the loop, the Rock scramble is so much fun.

I have come up with a couple of terms to describe the ascent and the Decent:

Ascent: Brutally Awesome
Decent: The Punishing Reward

Two words of advice:

1. Wear GOOD and Grippy shoes. Trial runners and hiking shoes/boots work best. regular sneakers can work, but don't provide the best grip. Trust me on this one. Good shoes are your friend

2. Bring plenty of water (and some snacks). You will need it. ESPECIALLY if it is hot.

I can't recommend this hike enough. The people you meet on the trail are there on purpose, so they are in a better mood and enjoying themselves. You can't say that about most places you go to today..
Written May 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kim
30 contributions
Jul 2021
This hike was amazing! We arrived at the Old Rag Parking lot at 8 AM to give us enough time to get up the mountain. We thought that the beginning of the hike was pretty hard because it was an incline up over small rocks. When we reached the rock scramble we took our time and had a lot of fun! I think that the rocks scramble and the summit were everyone's favorite parts of the hike. We made it to the top at around 12:30 PM since we took a lot of breaks. We stayed at the top for a while and enjoyed the splendid view, then made our way down the other side. For us the trip down was the hardest, since it was the longest stretch and there were more gravel and rocks than on the way up. We ended the trail at around 4 PM.

I would recommend that people go early to give themselves enough time to summit, bring good shoes, lots of water and snacks, and a map (which they hand out at the ranger station at the parking lot). Keep an eye out for blue markers to stay on the trail and watch the weather. As the rocks are already worn and some are a bit slippery, finding good conditions are ideal so you don't fall.

If you are in decent shape, this hike should be good for you. We saw a family with young kids (ages 5-7) that climbed to the top. For those birdwatchers we did not see as many birds as we heard, but we did see an Eastern Towhee, swallows, and red-headed and black vultures.

Have fun hiking!
Written July 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nicky_lovetravel
Glasgow, UK30 contributions
Oct 2020 • Friends
We hiked Old Rag on Saturday 3rd October, starting from the new parking lot. We arrived at 8am, with only a small number of spaces left in the overflow car park! It was very organised, with a small ranger station to purchase a pass (if you don’t have one) for park entry and toilets in the main car park. The trailhead is now located in the new parking lot and we hiked the circular trail along the Ridge Trail to the summit, and back to the car park via the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. The route was VERY busy and we had to wait a good while in a queue at the sections that required some scrambling. The trail is truly amazing though, and well worth the patience required. Other hikers were friendly and were generally patient with each other. With a 30 minute rest at the top to take in the incredibly beautiful views, we did the hike in 5hrs 30 mins. You need to be reasonably fit and ready to scramble over and between boulders! A wonderful day 😊
Written October 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Gabrielle
3 contributions
Nov 2020 • Friends
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.
Written November 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chip1953
Norfolk, VA79 contributions
May 2021 • Solo
I googled Old Rag, and found a staged pic of craziness showing the “Leap of Faith” along the Ridge Trail. Given that I’m 68 and was hiking solo, I took the backside Berry Hollow Trail. It’s a beautiful trail in itself, winding through the forest and boulders with switchbacks and vistas. And everyone ends up at the same summit. The summit itself and its vistas on a clear day can’t be matched on the East Coast. The NPS description said to plan for 7 hrs but even with lunch and taking lots of photos, it only took only 5. Having now seen the Ridge Trail pics on this site, I’m game for going back solo and tackling it. This was flat out wonderful.
Written May 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Old Rag Mountain Hike (Shenandoah National Park) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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