Old Rag Mountain Trail is a 9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Syria, VA that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and birding 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.
Amazing! We went right after the rain which made it a bit slippery, not always a good idea but I had traveled by plane just for this hike, so we went ahead, and we were so glad we did! This hike uses lower as well as upper body strength so be prepared. We did this hike in 5 hours. We were warned of a bear that had been around the area and although we didn't see any, the group right behind us did. So keep alert.
Went up for sunrise. Totally worth the view.
easily my favorite hike in Virginia. good distance, challenging climbing, and on peak season weekends there's a nice fella selling homemade ginger ale. perfect.
Strenuous hike/Rock Scramble with an amazing reward!
Difficult but amazing hike, worth the effort.
Amazing hike. Pack water and plan a full 8 hour hike.
What a fun hike and the views are breathtaking. This was the challange we were looking for.
Started our sunrise hike at 4:00 am from the parking lot. It took us 2.5 hrs (4 miles) to reach the summit in darkness, just in time to watch
sunrise at 6:30 am. It was breathtaking! There were only about 10 people on the top the whole time. Instead of taking the fire road down, we decided to scramble down the same ridge trail. It was shorter and faster (1.5 hrs), but definitely harder. On the way down, before reaching the tree line, we only came cross 3 groups of hikers going up. I did this hike five times. To me this was the best way to hike Old Rag.
Best hike accesible to Washingtonians. I have completed Old Rag four times now in all the elements and have never had a poor day. This trail takes roughly four and a half hours so pack accordingly. The little folks may need a ladder for the rock scramble!
Have done this trail for a sunrise hike to avoid traffic. Exceptional run from start until the scramble.. Took about 2.5 hours up and 1.25 down.
It took me almost five hours to complete the loop. It is rated hard because the boulder scramble section. At the end I was tired but happy because I took the challenge and overcame it. Get there early, take the Ridge Trail up and the Weakley Hollow Fire Road down.
The scrambles make this my favorite trail
Old Rag's bald face and elevation make it the best scenery hike around the area regardless of seasons. I've done this hike many times and it's a all-time favorite. Trails are very clearly marked, you can't miss it. Hiking boots are a must on rainy days. Bring more water than you think you'll need.