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“Fantastic but Challenging Hike”

Old Rag Mountain Hike
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
404 reviews
260 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 736 helpful votes
“Fantastic but Challenging Hike”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 19, 2014

Old Rag Mountain is probably the most popular hike in Shenandoah National Park. Unlike most of the mountains in the Blue Ridge range, Old Rag has a rocky exposed top. As such, the hike up to the top if very rocky with one full mile of rock scrambling. This is a challenging hike so should only be attempted by those in good physical shape. As there are many exposed rocks, avoid this hike in the rain as wet rocks are extremely slippery. The parking area for Old Rag is off Route 600 (Nethers Road) near Sperryville. This is a fee area, but if you've already paid to enter the park, show your receipt and you don't have to pay another fee. Try to arrive early as the parking lot fills up fast - a testament to the popularity of the hike. The trailhead itself is about 0.8 miles further up the road, but you can't park anywhere, so you'll have to hike up the road to the trailhead at the end. Start off on Ridge Trail, which steeply climbs up through the forested part of the mountain through a seemingly endless number of switchbacks. After about 3 miles, the forest will thin out and you'll come to the rocky part. It's another mile to the summit and you'll have to hike, climb, crawl, duck, and squeeze over, under, through, and around huge rocks and boulders. A few are perched precariously and seem to defy gravity. There are a few false summits along the way, but keep heading up and eventually you'll reach the top. If you enjoy rock scrambling, you'll love this hike. If not, you may hate it. The summit has phenomenal views in all directions and is a great place for a picnic to regain your energy after the strenuous climb up. To finish up the loop, continue hiking on Saddle Trail that leads steeply down, passing Byrds Nest Shelter and Old Rag Shelter and ending at Weakley Hollow Fire Road. Follow this road back to the trailhead. There are other possible ways to hike Old Rag, either as a loop or out-and-back. Get a map or talk to a ranger at one of the visitor centers to learn about other ways of hiking Old Rag.

Visited August 2014
Helpful?
4 Thank jmpncsu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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259 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
New Market, Virginia
Level Contributor
99 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Great hike”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 19, 2014

If you have a few hours and can hike some steep places this is a must to do. I have hiked Old Rag a few times and I have it on my "bucket list" to do again. The last time I hiked via the road and took my time and stopped as I needed and it was slow moving but well worth it. The view from on top can't be beat. It is a difficult hike but again well worth the extra effort!!

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
Thank gmgood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
tellysurf
Level Contributor
75 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Amazing Hike (Make Sure You're in Shape)”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 4, 2014

This is a lengthy hike (8.8 miles) with some fun, but challenging rock scrambles. Make sure your shoes have good tread as some of the rock surfaces can be fairly slick. Take plenty of water (the park service recommends 2 quarts of water which is what we consumed on a mild, 80 degree day). Total walking time for my wife and I was 5 hours (she's a distance runner). We hiked on a Monday and there wasn't a whole lot of people.

Visited August 2014
Helpful?
4 Thank tellysurf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
755 reviews
399 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 411 helpful votes
“rock scramble”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 31, 2014

make a full day of this, as it will take you 4-6 hrs to complete the loop.
the rock scramble on the way up is a lot of fun (yes, kids can do it, elderly, probably not).
can be crowded in the warmer months. but worth it in the end.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Curtez151
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newark, DE
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Amazing hike!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 24, 2014

I want to thank all of the reviewers for your great tips on this hike. We did the hike on a Monday, thus avoiding big crowds. We opted for the Ridge Route with rock scrambles on the way up and took the longer, easier Saddle Trail down. Our family finished the hike in 6 1/2 hours; this included water breaks, photo stops and lunch at the summit. The tips given by other reviews were extremely helpful.

Here are a couple of things we learned:

* Old Rag is NOT located off of Skyline Drive. Have a map and a clear idea of where you are going. There is a $15.00 fee for a multi-day pass for Shenandoah National Park with a self pay option. Since we had not been on Skyline Drive yet to get our pass, I was glad we had exact change in cash.

*Good hiking socks and shoes are a must.

*Get there early. We started around 8:10 by the time we found it, parked in the lower lot, applied sunscreen and bug spray, and used the privy.

*Overcast weather with little chance of rain really is ideal.

*Pack light, but make sure you have enough water. Two of us wore 2 liter Camelbacks, and 2 of us wore back packs that contained another 4 liters total and other miscellaneous items like a small first aid kit. It was incredibly humid that day. I wished we had another 2 liters of water to get us through the last 3 miles back to the lot. We each had 2 protein bars, trail mix, and one sandwich each for food.

*We wore fingerless biking gloves for the rock scramble section. Longer pants like capris are definitely easier for the sliding and shimmying sections.

*Finally, my one and only regret was not having my flip flops to change into after the hike. Everyone was wishing they had their slides, etc. for their feet to breathe. Our feet all ached a bit toward the end. We will not forget this next time!

This hike was very challenging and strenuous, but it was our favorite hike so far! We will definitely do it again! The views were absolutely stunning, and the variety of rock features were great. If you want to add another component to it, check out Shenandoah's Earth Caching on their website. You will know which geological features to look for!

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank MonarchMomof2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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