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love the views and cliffs. much wild life

Great hike, even though it downpours on our return. Amazing views, beautiful flowers, somewhat challenging terrain on the salamander trail coming back to the parking lot. Be sure to return on Salamander Trail or you will end up at the wrong parking lot and have to walk a mile on skyline drive. We caught the error before we had gone too far and climbed back up.Dog friendly hike.

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.

didnt think it was that difficult to hike to the bathtub , some slippery rock and mud, but that is to be expected hiking along a creek , the water was a bit chilly but crystal clear definitely will do again

on Bull Run Trail

hiking
3 days ago

This is a great day trail to take kids and pets on. Its fun and easy. And its beautiful.

walking
3 days ago

Really interesting trail, but very populated. It's an easy hike with a lot to see and several spots for the pups (and you) to swim. The bridge over the James River was a really cool way to start and end the trip. The structures and rock wall along the way were really cool places to explore and take photos. I'd say it's more of an urban walk than a hike, though. We had to park a bit up the road (parking is very limited, especially for how busy it is) and in total "hiked" just over 3 miles from start to finish.

Gets very crowded, try to go early

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!

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.

Amazing wildlife! We saw 3 small wolves scampering around, deer, and accidentally walked a few feet from a rattlesnake! We went counterclockwise around the loop, reaching the bathtub at mile 5. The first 1.5 miles were super steep, but all pretty easy after that. The bathtub was gorgeous. We went on a weekday and saw no one on the trail until we got past the bathtub and saw people doing the 4 mile out and back hike. You have to hop over rocks but it had been dry for a week or so and I didn't feel like I ever had to put on the water shoes I brought. definitely go on a weekday- I can see it being kinda cramped and miserable with a whole bunch of people.

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.

One of my favorite hikes! Went counterclockwise, (AT | Salamander | peak | Lower Hawksbill Trail). Perfect balance of great terrain, elevation and some of the best panoramic views. On the trail, you’ll cross over rock fields in the middle of the trail. To note... From this direction, you’ll come to a fork in the road. There is a wooden pole with an arrow spray-painted on it that points right. Going that way will continue on Appalachian Trail to Rock Spring Hut. To complete the loop (to Salamander), go left (opposite of the arrow). I went about .5 miles before realizing and having to backtrack. On course... great climb to the highest peak in SNP!

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.

walking
9 days ago

As of today Trails A and B are closed but the trail to Great Falls overlook is great. It’s flat, smooth, small pebbles; easy for walking or biking. The overlook is incredible.

All around great hike. There was plenty of scenery and places for some very nice photos of the valley.

I think I over packed, as this was my first time doing this hike. I had a 2.5L water pack (which was the perfect amount), snacks (which I personally didn't use), some extra socks and shirt, and a few other odds and ends. All this was packed in a 36L Osprey Pack which was too bulky for this hike, but do able. A smaller 18L or so would be easier, especially during the rock scramble (which I will talk about later).

The beginning of the hike was all up hill and shaded. Raises your heart rate but nothing too crazy. after a few miles you'll hit a few false summits which provide amazing photo ops and good rest points.

After the false summits you'll start the rock scramble. I read reviews on various sites prior to picking this hike that all mentioned a "small rock scramble". While it is nothing too crazy, it is not a "small rock scramble". As long as you have the upper body strength to do dips and step up and some semblance of balance then you will be fine. The biggest issue was the back ups at the rock scramble. I hit it around noon and at some points there was a string of people waiting to move.

The summit is absolutely breath taking and well worth the hike, you get a full 360 view of the valley and there's tons of photo ops and plenty of places to have lunch.

The first 2 miles of the decent are mostly stone steps and is shaded and was cool. There are a lot of little water run offs so I would suggest footwear that would accommodate that. Nothing too deep. The last 3 miles are along a fire trail and gets sort of boring after a bit, but there are a few waterfalls and a river crossing near the end that is a nice break up for the monotony,

All in all this is a fantastic hike and will challenge you.

My suggestions: around an 18L sized pack with water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and maybe an extra shirt (I was soaked by the time I got to the summit). Also I would suggest above ankle hiking boots for traction and ankle stability (especially during the rock scramble and the decent). I did see a lot of people doing it in running shoes, but I would be to worried about turning and ankle or something.

Hope this helps someone and see you on the trails.

Fantastic! Just did it the 9th time. Its an annual trek for since our youngest was 5 and oldest was 7. They've done it 8 times. Very wet this year. Be cautious on the rocks. Its a great day

I hiked Old Rag a couple weeks ago with several of the guys from work and loved it! Was my first time here but will not be my last.

I went up to Old Rag via the Ridge Trail and descended down Saddle Trail and Weakley Hollow fire road.

This hike is awesome! The first 3 miles going up are okay. Then you hit the 1.5-2 mile rock scramble the rest of the way to the top of Old Rag...this part is simply awesome. Great fun, stunning views! Down the mountain is good too...beautiful forest scenery but nothing compared to rock scramble portion of the trail. Definitely worth doing again!

backpacking
15 days ago

Did this with a 40lb pack. bring at least 3liters of water. Change of socks and an extra shirt or jacket. The descent is pretty easy, but once you are all sweaty from the ascent you might get chilly. I hiked it backwards ( counter clockwise, fire trail first) as I didn't want to do the scramble in the dark.

Wow! I did this hike with my husband and 9 y/o son. We’re always looking for challenging hikes and this did not disappoint! The boulder scramble is SO much fun and the view at the summit is amazing!

It is a challenging, LONG hike. Wear boots, bring lots of water and snacks. Also, be prepared for steep inclines. You need to be able to lift yourself over, and onto boulders and to squeeze through small crevices!

I suggest getting there very early - we got there before 7am on a Saturday morning and the parking lot was already half full. But, everyone was so friendly and helpful! Be aware that there’s a $15 per person fee.

We saw a rattlesnake on the trail back down to the parking lot. He warned us to stay away and needless to say we did! There are also some really beautiful water features on the way back to the car that aren’t mentioned here but really make the walk back more interesting!

If you like a challenge - this is the hike for you!
Happy hiking!

very good hiking. not as much traffic as dark hollow fall.

A great adventure! I started at the lower parking lot (Weakley Hollow Rd) and went anti-clockwise, as recommended. A lot of uphill on the first leg along the river, with just gorgeous waterfall action along the way. I looked ahead at one point and saw a pair of ears pointing up in the air. It was a bear, sitting upright on rocks, taking in a view of the waterfalls. It ran up a tree (effortlessly!) as I approached, and then came right back down again! It hung out just about 50 feet or so from the trail as I passed.

You have to cross the water at the very top of the waterfall -- the best route that I found involved being almost knee deep in water. You will get wet on this hike. You really have to be very cautious on these water crossings -- you could easily slip on the glassy-smooth rocks, and fall and break something.

After crossing the waterfall at the top, you take the yellow trail to keep moving anti-clockwise, heading back towards the lower parking lot (and eventually back onto the blue trail). About half way around I had a feeling of being over the most challenging part of the hike, with plain sailing from here, Wrong! The back half of the hike is downhill through rocks, and rough on the joints. You need to be extremely careful on this section -- it would be very easy to make one bad foot placement, and fall and break something. And you'd be a long way/time from getting help.

A mile or so from the end of the trail I came across a snake -- sunning itself on a rock right on the edge of the trail. At this particular spot there was no way to continue other than to keep going on the narrow trail -- literally about a foot from the snake. As I stood debating my next step, a hiker came from the other direction (he was going clockwise) and stopped on the other side of the snake. He thought it looked like a copperhead. I took a picture of it, and the ranger at the end of the trail confirmed that it was indeed a copperhead. The other hiker and I both stepped on by the snake, and it didn't seem to be bothered, but you definitely want to be on the lookout! One little tip that I picked up -- never grab onto anything (a tree, for example) if you can't see what's on the back of it (where your fingers will be!).

There's access to some beautiful swimming holes along the way down -- I didn't venture in, but some folks were in taking a dip and having a lot of fun,

I recently have done the Old Rag and Little Devils Stairs hikes (both in Shenandoah, and both wonderful in their own ways), and think that this one was maybe the more challenging of the three. There's not a lot of rock scrambling on this one (like there is on the way up Old Rag), but I found the long downhill through the rocks to be quite strenuous.

Overall, this was a fantastic hike! Highly recommended! Oh, and it took me about 5 hours -- pushing along at a steady pace, and I did stop for lunch at the Slide waterfall for around 15 minutes.

Hiking to the tallest point in SNP is a great experience! The trail is lovely and features some beautiful talus slopes. We went counter-clockwise, which left the view towards the end but went down the steeper trail. Overall, the elevation gain is not too strenuous and the trail is well maintained. The peak, even when crowded, has plenary of outcropping to sit and enjoy the view, including the built up observation deck. Look for Old Rag in the distance! This is such a great, quick hike. Highly recommend!

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