Explore VA - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

VA Map
VIEW FULL MAP

You will not find better views off the AT. The most underrated hike out there. Love love love.

Great views and rewarding hike. But if you’re looking for seclusion you will not find it here.

Parking lot is easy to find via directions through the app. There is plenty of parking, but can fill up as the day goes on. When we got there at 8am, it was pretty empty, but by the time we left 1:30, it was pretty full. There are multiple portajohns, which is nice to have at the end/beginning of your hike.

We did the loop starting with the ridge trail, which starts about a .5 mile up the road from the parking lot. The first quarter of the hike was moderate, rocky but not too steep and quite lovely. The rock scramble was our first real experience with a real rock scramble and although a few places were a bit difficult to navigate, it was doable and kind of fun! There are a few spots where you really have to become intimate with the rocks around you. That said, there were a few spots along the way with some spectacular views!

I believe it was a little under 4 miles to get to the summit and man is the climb worth it!

After a much more moderate descent down the saddle trail, there is a shelter with a bathroom, but no water. Past that, you walk on the fire road back to the parking lot with not much to see except the river in some spots. However, it is a nice, easy descent after all that hard climbing.

It is worth noting that there is no cell service at the parking lot or any area around it, so have an idea of how to get back!

I’ve hiked Old Rag many times. Today I saw 5 bears. Two on the actual path. I was nervous to walk by, so just waited until he moved.

This humbled me! Totally worth it though. Rose River Falls was the hardest in my opinion. Definitely take advantage of the oppurtunity to rest at the bottom of Dark Hollow.

hiking
3 days ago

Really enjoyed this hike. I got on the trail about 1730 after work and only saw two other people, one being a through hiker. So it was pretty quiet and the hike up was long enough for me to have to work at it without any desire to turn back early. The view at the top was gorgeous and well worth the hike.

One of the bests hikes we have been on, the scrambles were a lot fun. The walk back down the fire road a little boring, but not a big deal.

Went with a group of 8. Stopped quite a bit for food/water and overlooks on the way up. About 2-3 miles up to the summit which took about 2.5 hours and then about 5 miles down which another 2.5 miles. Bring about 2L of water per person. You'll spend about 5 hours hiking, but worth every effort.

Nice hike. Not as hard as I thought, it's a pretty gentle slope. Great views from the top!

The 360 summit was everything. And I will quote my dear friend who went with me, "It's like we're in a picture." We stayed up in the summit and just sunbathe for an hour or so because we had already completed the trail. There was a cute grass clearing perfect for camping up ahead the summit too and the woodland sunflowers blooming everywhere was absolutely magical to me. We turned back around so we could enjoy the 360 view even more. A great trail to do before you take up Old Rag! Also stop by the huge rock that looks like a perfect shade if it's raining! But for me, it was more like a giant natural stone sofa! Will definitely take this trail on again when Autumn is here.

Awesome trail. I did it with my wife and 3 teenage daughters we all had a great time.

I loved that place to walk. It is a good place to go with friends and family. Amazing.

This hike starts on the road for a little less than a mile before reaching the trailhead, the path is rocky at the bottom and becomes a series of scrambles after several miles. The views are amazing, the entire hike was really pleasant, and it was quite windy and beautiful at the top. My 11 year old joined me and had no trouble at all, he is an avid hiker and loves rock scrambles. It will be a few years before I take my younger children. Parking is $15 for a week, or use tour national park pass. No camping in the parking area or at the higher elevations on Old Rag (basically when it becomes really rocky). Parking area has trash and porta-potties.

Hiked this one today. Actually, that was my second attempt to climb the rocks all the way to the top. First time around it was drizzling all day long, boulders were slippery, and I did not finish it. Today was sunny - different story. Good traction, because it was dry, and spectacular views all the way up (if you are climbing the boulders). Very very challenging climb, and I have done some tough trails. Rocks are getting bigger towards the top, and harder to climb. I had enough brains in the end to take side trail down instead of jumping boulders back...lol. Highly recommend if you want entire body workout. Do not recommend if you have knees problem.

Excellent trail! Definitely difficult and I would not have packed my own water because there are plenty of water spots along the trail if you are camping. Beautiful views and a really awesome camping site at about the halfway mark.

Hard trail - steep with lots of skree - view in summer a little constrained but imagine late winter / early spring would open up some views- definitely go again

A short trail, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is an easy hike, it’s a scramble. Awesome views, must do.

set aside the whole day so you can enjoy this bad boy. there are plenty of false summits so don't get your hopes up. enjoy everyone. i would advise against bringing younger kids as the rock scramble can get sketchy at times. if you think yourself to be a more athletic outdoorsman, get to the trail early. there are bottlenecks that sometimes confuse and slow down hikers. there is a $15 charge to every hiker looking to enter. bring bug spray!

my friend and i started at around 11:30 and ended our trip back at the parking lot at around 4.

Gets very crowded, try to go early

Hiked from Gravel Springs to see the overlooks on the Appalachian Trail.

Aug 10 2018: This is my 2nd time completing the Old Rag loop. 3 hours to get to Summit. Took me 6 hours from/to parking. I like to start early so started around 6:15. I had to spray several times as the bugs were plentiful. Just be aware that Black Bears are active in this area as I saw one about 100 feet away in my last hour. Luckily, it didn’t follow me but it did make me put an extra pep in my step!

If you go now, the water levels are as high as they have ever been in a long time and it is amazing. bring water shoes or prep to get wet. went yesterday from the cedar run lot to the byrds nest lookout past skyline, and back again.

Awesome hike and one of the most challenging in Shenandoah! Start early to avoid the crowds. I started at 6 AM and had the whole morning to myself going up. It can get a little crowded on some of the boulder sections closer to the summit so plan accordingly! Obviously a very well known hike and people flock to it for sure. Regardless it is absolutely worth doing if you’re up for the challenge and don’t mind a little company.

I unfortunately had my hike cut short and was unable to finish the loop on account of me dropping my iPhone off the literal top of Old Rag Mountain. Probably a good idea to use two hands while taking pictures up there.

I’d recommend packing on the lighter side for this one, it’ll make some of the tricky maneuvering much easier. I overpacked in a big 50L backpack and learned that lesson. This hike is absolutely worth it. The bare rock face summit of Old Rag is breathtaking and gives one of the best views of the park. The summit is somewhat of a ridge so there are ample spots to soak it all in.

Completed 8/6 going counterclockwise- not the hardest hike in Shenandoah but nothing to laugh at, probably earns its “hard” rating. Very entertaining hike- the water on this this trail does not disappoint. The 6 or so waterfalls that range in size and look often have space to explore underneath and appreciate the view if you desire. Basically 7 out of the 8 miles on the loop are following one of the 2 rivers- switching from swift running waterfalls and rapids to slow moving, deep green pools.

Took me about 6 hours to complete, taking my time and going for a short swim in one of the natural pools (would highly recommend.) This loop can easily be done quicker if you’re in decent shape and not stopping frequently.

Side note: the waterfalls and pools are popular and attract a decent crowd on a nice summer day. It’s not overcrowded, but if you’re looking for solitude this is probably not the hike. That being said this is one of my favorite I’ve done in Shenandoah and has some of the best water features & scenery in the park. Definitely should be on everybody’s Shenandoah to-do list.

awesome!! Challenging. Marked very well, but rock scramble and the uphill hiking can make this hike difficult. False summit and summit are so worth it though. One of my favorite hikes!

hiking
13 days ago

We did both the Bearfence Trail and the Rock Scramble. We loved the rock scramble and the views from the top were outstanding. Definitely do the scramble. It’s not as hard as you think!

This was a beautiful trail. There are waterfalls and swimming holes everywhere and the water is very clear. There was a big rattlesnake along the path on the rocks (posted a picture) so keep an eye out. This was strenuous, but worth it. This states pets allowed, but it should state not recommended. I have a jack Russell that hikes long hikes with me, but this was way too rocky for her. We carried her most of the way and her paws are still irritated.

Great Hike. Did it counter clockwise and highly recommend that. Slide on way down was awesome. Must do! Elevation is a lot but once you hit the fire road it is a gentle climb. would highly recommend. Did with 4 kids 17-10 in age and had no issues. You will get wet on this hike. We took our time started at 9am and finished 4:30. Lots of swimming and eat lunch.

Did the trail counter clockwise and with a pack. I don’t advise doing either. The backcountry campsite opportunities are limited and nothing special. Carrying a heavy pack affects balance and makes scrambling up and down the rocks very difficult. Doing the trail counterclockwise exacerbates the problem, as it is more difficult in this direction, with most of the scrambling downhill rather than uphill.

The dangers are real. I narrowly avoided serious injury after a handhold slipped. I lost my balance, and fell backwards into empty space. Somehow I managed to land on my feet on a rock 5 feet below.

Notwithstanding all that, Old Rag was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. The views are outstanding, the rock scrambling is fun, and it is quite a workout! But please learn from my mistakes and do it as a clockwise day hike.

P.s. Bring gloves and a lot of water. Once you get into the boulder area there are no water sources.

Loved this hike! Rock scrambles were hard but very rewarding.

Load More