Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail is a 9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Syria, VA that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
This hike is considered to be THE best in Shenandoah National Park. It is pretty hard climb, but when you make it about 3/4 of the way up, then you have some rock scrambling that makes your pace a little slower. There are alot of switchbacks, so you will not be going straight up, but the trails are still at a steep grade. The descent, which is a longer distance than the ascent, is a much more gradual grade, ending on a fire trail. This hike begins with a one-mile walk up the road to the original Old Rag Parking lot (port-a-pots here.) Turn left onto the Ridge Trail and begin your approximate two mile ascent with switchbacks before reaching the boulder scramble section. There are handwritten numbers below the blue trail blazes throughout the trail. You’ll be going up, down, in between, around, and underneath granite boulders throughout the scramble. While going through the boulder scramble, keep your eyes open for the blue blazes, as sometimes they are in the strangest places. If you have a fear of heights, or jumping across crevasses, this will challenge you and encourage you to overcome your fears. Each time you think you’ve reached the summit – you haven’t! This mountain likes to play with you and has several false summits. You’ll know that you’ve reached the top when you see the Old Rag Mountain brown elevation sign. Find a lovely rock with a fabulous view for your lunch spot here, before starting your descent on the back of the mountain by way of the Saddle Trail. Rock hopping down, you’ll pass two shelters. First the Byrds Nest Shelter, then the Old Rag Shelter (privy here) before hitting a cross-roads. Stay to your right to continue back on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road for about four miles to return to the parking lot. This section can seem like it’ll last forever. You will pass through beautiful forests and see Brokenback Run that leads into the Hughes River.
Super fun if you like scrambling under, over, and between boulders! The uphill portion is pretty steep, but I thought it was well worth the effort.
One of the best VA hikes ever done for me. Was all by myself to complete this one. Unfortunately it was raining so I was actually the only one on the trail, so I don't suggest that if trying to make it to the summit. The rocks tend to be slippery and you have to climb up and down so it could get scary for some people. Amazing enough to want to do it again, just next time when it's dry. Recommend this hike to anyone to do first in Shenandoah. Overall amazing! Good luck to anyone who scales these rocks to make it to the summit. The view is amazing at the top!
One of my all time Favorite VA hikes
It was an amazing hike! There was a lot of traffic on the rock scrambles which slowed our momentum, but it was a great hike nonetheless. Some of the rocks are slippery so wear shoes with traction. Be sure to cover your ears and wear mittens when hiking late November till winter because it can get really chilly.
We started around 10:30 am on 50 degrees. I'm a 5'2" 58 year old somewhat fit woman. I had no problem with the rock scramble until we were very close to the top. There was a part where you needed to jump up and I lacked the height or upper strength to do it. I had to ask for help to a gentleman on the other side. He hoisted me up and I could continue. Had he not been there I would have had to return. The views are well worth the effort even in November! We did the whole loop and were back at the parking lot at 3:30 pm after a nice lunch at the top of the mountain. The way down is nice and easy and we made good friends with some young hikers.
It's was insane!!! I'm not going to lie, my group had a hard time with this one, but the views are great at the top and well worth it. I went on a cloudy day so when I got to the top, the clouds went through me and looked soooooo cool. Word of advice: GET THERE EARLY. Parking fills up quick. If you want to complete this you should be somewhat fit b/c some parts are thin and tight. This is a long trail so bring 4 bottles of water and have the whole group bring snacks (my group failed at the snacks part, so we were getting hungry at the summit) and be prepared to leave around dark.
WILL BE THERE DURING SPRING TIME!!!!!!!
This was a great day hike. Took about 4 hours total. There were probably 200-250 people on this trail when I tried. The trail was so backed up at certain points where it was required to go one at a time. There is a more difficult option at these areas to skirt around the rocks and make your own trail. All in all I will do it many more times.
Long physically demanding day hike but the views are worth it. The rock scramble is by far the most fun but there tends to be back ups from less experienced climbers.
This hike was awesome! Very challenging, but a lot of fun. We got a late start on the trail, about 9:45 we got to the trailhead, but plenty of people were starting at that time so I wasn't too worried about the amount of sunlight left. By the way...things to know 1) it's $10 to park 2) it's an additional $10 per person to get into the park (so we paid $30 total before starting our hike). The parking attendant only takes cash but you can use card to get into Shenandoah park. Also the trail head is 0.8 miles from the parking lot. So including the 9.2 old rag circuit and parking is round trip 10.8 miles. We got to the top of the trail in about 2 hours but reached a long line and had to wait long increments to reach the top due to tough rock scrambles. The waits didn't bother me at all, it was a nice break between hard rock scrambles and took us about an additional 50 mins to reach the actual summit. Rock scrambles are harddd but do able. My husband had to help me in a couple spots. I'm only 5'4 so a lot of the scrambles were a lot taller than me. A tall girl would be fine on her own. Bring a guy to give you a little butt push if you are shorter or lack upper body strength. The way down we took the saddle trail which is a very easy trail. Took us only 2 hours to get down, no rock scrambling just walking downhill. I would definitely do this trail again.
I didn't really enjoy the rock scrambles at Great Falls on the Billy Goat trail, so I was concerned about the rock scramble here after seeing comparisons indicating this was significantly harder. I'd disagree and say they are different (with Old Rag much more to my liking). You go over, down, and under large boulders on reasonably well marked trails while seeing beautiful views across the mountains; I ended up thoroughly enjoyed the scrambling (in comparison to the Billy Goat trail which I found both tedious and monotonous).
I arrived a bit later than I wanted (8:15am), but was early enough to still get a pretty good parking spot. The lot did fill up quickly, so do arrive early. There are port-a-potties at the start and a toilet not too far down the trail after you hit the summit. Total time for me was 5 hours including ~15min waiting in lines to go through sections of the scramble and probably another 45min hanging out at the summit and the multiple false summits. For anyone interested in apples or cookies, there were a few people selling them alongside the approach hike on the day I went.
I camped at Big Meadows the previous night and while I'd certainly recommend the campground, I'd also note the Old Rag parking lot is a good 1.5hr drive from the campsite. Even with the long drive, I'd probably stay there again as a base point. I'd definitely do this hike again.
Loved the hike, the view from the tip is unbelievable!
Beautiful vistas. A moderately difficult trail with some serious rock scramble. I wouldn't recommend it for children under the age of 10.
This was way more difficult than I imagined. A very social hike as we went on an early summer Saturday for our 22nd wedding anniversary. The rock scramble at the top was a definite highlight.
This trail is not the easiest to do and I would suggest going on a weekday to beat the crowds. We loved the views from various points along the trail. There are some spots where you have to climb rocks and shimmy through slim passages to keep going. Think like a kid and use your upper body strength and you'll make it. I would not suggest hiking this trail solo in case you need a push or a hand to scale some of the trickier parts.
Once you reach the top it's totally worth it!
Amazing all day hike. Drove 5 hours to do this hike and was no dissatisfied in the least. It was challenging but worth it
Lots of fun. Great views. But be warned: this trail can get incredibly busy. Incredibly.
old rag mountain trail is the best!!
try this trail.. you would not regret it.
finish it in 4 hours!!