Old Rag Mountain Loop

HARD 1992 reviews
#1 of 185 trails in

Old Rag Mountain Loop is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 8.6 miles Elevation Gain: 2,417 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

bird watching

forest

partially paved

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

This hike is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah National Park. It is a challenging hike, but when you make it about 3/4 of the way up, you will then 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 area (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. When hiking Old Rag Mountain, each time you think you’ve reached the summit – you haven’t! This mountain has several false summits. You’ll know that you’ve reached the Old Rag Summit when you see the Old Rag Mountain brown elevation sign. Find a lovely rock with a fabulous 360 degree 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.

hiking
rocky
scramble
9 hours ago

This is a beautiful trail that is almost certainly the pearl of Shenandoah. As a result it is PACKED on the way up, so if that’s not your jam you may want to look elsewhere. If you don’t mind the company it actually makes for some great camaraderie once you get close to the top. The beginning is mostly switchbacks that eventually turns into a more rocky type scramble once you get a little closer to the top. BE AWARE of the arrows when making your way through the rocks, the trail is not always labeled well in this section and we got lost for nearly 20 minutes following others that were going the wrong way. Definitely do the loop because it is different scenery and the fire road is easier on the knees. Enjoy the stunning views at the top!

hiking
1 day ago

BEST hike in the park for sure! We got an early start, and had to walk a while to get to the trail head, but once we started we were in the woods until the ridge. It was uphill, but the switchbacks made it feel more moderate than it actually was. The entire ridge up to the summit (1.5 miles maybe??) was all a rock scramble which was SO MUCH FUN! It was challenging for sure, but the scramble was so interesting I was very distracted. Not suitable for everyone, but if you're somewhat active you should be okay!

hiking
1 day ago

Moderate trail, and probably one of the best in the area. Take food and plan according to get back down before dark. Views are of the whole Shenandoah valley.

hiking
2 days ago

my first hike! was challenging and super worthwhile. i enjoyed the rock scramble especially.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 days ago

Great views, and definitely a workout! Lots of hikers joking at the scramble about the “how hard can it be?” - thought they had when reading the reviews. More challenging than we thought, but super rewarding, and everyone finished. Due to active bears in the area, we had to listen to a ranger talk before getting on the trail. We didn’t see any bears on our morning hike.

hiking
scramble
3 days ago

hiking
scramble
4 days ago

Amazing trail! The rock scramble was a ton of fun! The descent was a bit long and monotonous, but well worth it for the ascent and the views

hiking
rocky
scramble
4 days ago

Completed in 5.75 hours. I am not an avid hiker or athletic, boyfriend works out 2-3 times per day and helped push me through. Definitely harder in the first two hours than what I was expecting but I did read a lot of reviews that warned for overall difficulty. First two was rocky trail with switchbacks up to the rock scramble. A few beautiful false summits along the way. Next approx hour was boulder scramble which was super fun. Takes your mind off of anything else but hand and foot placement. The view was absolutely incredible. Only stayed for a short time because of a storm blowing in. An hour or a little less down rocky trail before you hit the fire road. I’d say the sign lies about 2.5 miles and it’s closer to 3.5 but that’s just by my pace guess - it was miserable my boring. Overall an amazing hike - didn’t run into many people or get slowed down. Definitely doing this one again.

hiking
scramble
4 days ago

This hike is no joke. Very difficult and totally worth it! If you are not in good physical shape do not attempt this hike. The rock scramble has sections that we need to be able to lift yourself up. Make sure you wear good grippy shoes so you do not lose your footing.

hiking
4 days ago

I've done my share of tough hikes, but this one is easily one the hardest I've ever done. It's challenging physically and mentally in a way that a heavily trafficked trail in a busy national park seldom is. Going up is taxing, so by the time you get to the rock scrambling you are tired just as it's getting to be where you need to be sharpest. I wouldn't say any of the scrambling is dangerous, but being tired makes it all the more hard. Getting to the top feels like a genuine accomplishment which is always a good thing for a hike. The hike down the mountain is anticlimactic as you might imagine, but can't anything from the ascent. I went in the height of summer, I bet it's a lot more pleasant in October!

hiking
rocky
scramble
4 days ago

This is definitely the most rewarding hike I’ve ever completed. The views were unbelievable, however it is extremely challenging. There are many parts of this trail that will really test you-jumping and climbing rocks with no room for error if you are to fall. At the end of the hike, I could not believe how sick I felt but also how happy I was that I was able to finish it. So all and all, amazing experience.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
5 days ago

Amazing trail. When we started hiking it was poring. When we started the rock scramble the clouds were amazing. Very beautiful and challengingly fun.

hiking
5 days ago

This was the first hike of my life (went with someone I was dating and they convinced me I would have fun!!), and it was incredibly difficult. I’ll never forget the challenge and how sick I felt. This was 8 years ago. I have since then hiked and backpacked the gnarliest of trails. I would love to go back to old tag one day and hike it with grace. The boulder hopping up top is fun.

hiking
rocky
scramble
6 days ago

hiking
8 days ago

Great hike ! Very steep. Views are impeccable!

hiking
8 days ago

Very challenging hike but well worth it!!

hiking
scramble
9 days ago

Great trail — definitely one of the hardest I’ve ever done. Super challenging, we barely beat the rain.

hiking
9 days ago

excellent trail but congestion in the rock scramble is frequent on weekends

hiking
rocky
scramble
9 days ago

Great and challenging trail. The rock scramble (which is basically climbing, crawling, squeezing, and jumping) is no joke. And on a wet day, the rocks are very slippery. Took us about 6 hours. Pay close attention to the blue marks as you go through the scramble.

hiking
rocky
scramble
10 days ago

The scramble is no joke. Haven’t really experienced anything like that before. I can see why it’s the most popular hike. Definitely bring water and some shoes with solid grip

hiking
off trail
scramble
10 days ago

Great hike. Trail poorly marked in some places. 'Got off the trail halfway through the scramble and almost became a "stupid hiker" story?

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