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.
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