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Old Rag Mountain Loop

Etlan, Virginia

4.7/5
based on 31 reviews

Details

Distance

8.95 miles

Elevation Gain

2510 ft

Route Type

Loop

Description

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 trail of many hikers. Sorry no pets.

Be prepared to deal with crowds, especially on the rock scrambles, which tend to cause a bottle neck on this trail in Shenandoah National Park. I would recommend starting out early on this loop hike, 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 Old Rag 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 blazes marking 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. (While on the Saddle Trail, keep an eye out for a view of Balanced Rock near the Byrd's Nest Shelter. ) 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 blazes 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!

Helpful Links

Shenandoah National Park Service website - (540) 999-3500

Trail Map

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Features

Photography
Hiking
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Old Rag Mountain Loop Reviews

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.

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.

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.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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