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Old Rag Mountain Loop is a 9.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from April until October.

Length 9.8 mi Elevation gain 2,447 ft Route type Loop

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Nature trips

Forest

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

Fee

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (13)
Facilities
Contact
Tips
Getting There

NOTE: Entrance fees will be collected at the boundary trailheads, unless you have a current pass, and parking will be limited to available parking spots in designated parking areas only. Vehicles parked along the roadside will be ticketed and towed. 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.

There is parking for about 200 cars.

Park Information: (540) 999-3500

This is a very challenging hike. Do not attempt this hike unless you are fully prepared. Do not attempt this hike if it is icy or rainy and stay within your group. Shenandoah Park Emergency Number (800-732-0911) In the event of an emergency, please note the closest number on a blue marker to provide to the emergency responders. Bring at least two liters of water per person, food, cell phone, and an emergency kit. Plan on this hike taking at least seven hours to complete. You will be using both upper and lower body strength due to the boulder scramble. A pair of workout gloves is helpful on the boulder scramble section.

From the Baltimore Beltway: Take I-70 west towards exit 32 (39 miles from I-695.) Go 39 miles to Exit 52 onto US 340-south/west to Front Royal. Go 58 miles and turn left onto US 522 in Front Royal. Go 16 miles and turn right to remain on US-522/US-211. Go 8 miles, and turn left to remain on US-522 in Sperryville. Go 1 mile and turn right onto VA-231. Go 6 miles and turn right onto VA-707 (brown sign to Old Rag). Go 1 mile and turn right onto VA-600, bear left to remain on VA-600. You’ll see large grass National Park parking area to your left. Register your car at the self-service fee station in the lot. You must have a valid Shenandoah National Park pass to enter. NOTE: This is a very popular hike and during the summer months, this lot gets quickly full. Plan on an early start to get a jump on the crowd.

Weather
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Daylight
Reviews (3150)
Photos (2405)
Recordings (1869)
Completed (6369)
Janelle Hoelscher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2020
HikingRockyScramble

So much fun!! I plan on coming back. Always ppl on the trail with you and it often got blocked up on the more difficult parts. I found the climbing was easy but I noticed shorter people struggled a little more. Having a partner can really help with the climbing.

Lisa Ghidotti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 3, 2020

I hiked this a few weeks ago...the views were magnificent but the trail was super crowded with people forming lines on some of the key scrambles. Those rock scrambles were hard core and All Trails rated this as hard and it was definitely one of my hardest hikes to date due to the rock scrambling. Get to the parking lot by 7:30 a.m. on weekends during the summer!

Grace Gretz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
HikingGreat!Scramble
Cait K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
HikingGreat!
Rashad Usmani
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Great trail. So much fun!

View Rashad's Recording
Traci Davis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 31, 2020
Rock climbingRockyScramble

Great and very challenging hike. The rock scramble wasn’t described enough in all the reviews.It was rock climbing and lots of scrambling maybe close to 2 hours worth, not for anyone with compromised physical difficulties. The view is worth all the effort. We hope to do again but will bring more water for sure.

Just Lao
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 31, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

The hike is amongst the most difficult I have ever done if I can remember. The first few miles are normal mountain trail. You won’t even notice the elevation gain. But then you will encounter few switch back and can be dawning. But you will enjoy it. Skipping rocks and a Little Rock climbing is require but they are a bit easy to moderate nothing really hard that you can’t do. Please bring at least 2-3 liters of water and lots of snacks. But make sure your bag is not very heavy. Since it’s a long hike snacks along the way: walk and eat. You will feel hunger like I did if you are not fully prepared. I don’t recommend this to beginner. Also get into the trail as early as possible. You can watch the sunrise or sunset. I went early morning but I miss the sunrise when I got on top. Anyways it’s still good to be there early as the Parking lot gets packed. Give yourself 7 to 8 hours of hike the whole loop. Take your time and enjoy the view. Please bring a partner or a group with you.

Ian Voll
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
HikingGreat!RockyScramble

amazing views, difficult hike. some of the rock scrambles were challenging but worth the effort. I was spent by the time we hit the scrambles but I managed with a couple quick breathers. I would recommend more than 2 liters of water if it is over 80 degrees. we did it on a 90+ day and 2 liters was not enough.

Michel Bentley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
HikingFeeRockyScramble

This is by far my favorite hike I’ve ever done! For those who have done this trail in the past make a note that the trailhead is slightly changed. The original parking lot is overflow now and the actual trail head starts about a mile down the road. Additionally there’s a pretty steep fee to enter of $30 per car. the hike itself starts with a pretty steep incline and switchbacks almost immediately. I was surprised by how intense it was. But once you get to the top rocky scramble it’s absolutely amazing. The views are pretty and the rocks are fun to climb on. I could spend hours at the summit. I can’t wait to do this hike again! Took us about 2 and half hours to get to the third peak and two hours going back down. Overall hike length was 7 miles. Also a fair warning. This trail is pretty heavily trafficked. There were parts especially at the trickier rock climbs where we had to wait in line as it was one person at a time. So definitely plan to go during a weekday when the traffic will be less

Amy Ford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
Hiking

NEW Loop is 9.1 miles with 2,681 ft of elevation gain with the new parking lot and diverted trail. Always spectacular but I was shocked how many people were there on a weekday. I started at 7:30 am and lot was already half full. This took me 2 hours and 38 minutes to do, that’s with some super easy jogging on the fireroads towards the end.

Ian McGregor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
HikingGreat!RockyScramble

This loop has CHANGED!! Be aware. Hiked 27 July 2020. Change described first so people know. Overall take on the hike below. BE AWARE: The current (as of today) map on AllTrails is slightly different from what the trail is now. Looking at that map, there is a new parking lot at roughly 38°34'19.0"N 78°17'39.5"W. Google maps shows it under construction still. The original parking lot is now considered an overflow lot. More importantly, NPS is discouraging walking the fire road to get back to the parking lot (shorter now with the new one anyway). They have put up signage at the 9 mile mark (on this current AllTrails map) saying to take the Ridge trail back to meet up with where you started hiking and take it back to the parking lot. This add-on is all uphill and is an additional elevation gain of ~250 ft before finally coming back down, and overall adds 7/10 of a mile (according to the ranger) compared to the fire road. In total from the beginning of the ridge access trail to the parking lot it's 1.2 miles according to the post. It's a rude awakening for those of us who thought we were done with the ascents, and really tests the amount of water you brought. Technically the original fire road route is public access and it is perfectly legal to walk. However, residents have gotten annoyed with hikers. I leave the decision up to you but wanted people to be prepared because the current Old Rag trail map you get at the fee station does not mention this extra mileage or elevation gain. As this is so new, they are taking comments so please let the ranger know of general thoughts or suggestions and they will submit to higher-ups. Here is the map NPS is now using: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/upload/OldRag_RoadTrail.pdf GENERAL hike opinion As so many others have said, this is a great hike for pushing yourself and for the views. I was expecting the rock scramble to start earlier (not well-labeled on the NPS map), but it did not really get going until about 3000 ft elevation. It was challenging but definitely fun. Really great views at the top, and we definitely want to do this in the fall / for fall colors at some point! Coming down the fire road was nice compared to going down the rock scramble but that extra ridge add-on destroyed us at the end. Takeaway - this hike can be brutal if you're not prepared. We (2x) were mildly in shape and with the extra ridge trail at the end this took us a total of 6.5 hours, including ~ 30 min or so at the summit. We hiked on a Monday and started at 6.25 to avoid the heat. Very few cars at that time. Summit (3291 elevation) was reached in 3.5 hours, parking lot was reached in 2.5 hours. Total mileage and elevation (ups and downs, ridge add-on included [see above]) was 5286 ft over 9.6 miles. If we didn't have to take the ridge add-on it would have been closer to 4700 ft total elevation covered over roughly 8.9 miles.

Jennah Rawahneh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
HikingScramble

The hardest hike of my life!!! Got there at 6:30, parking lot was half full, with a lot of cars behind us. The hike was so rewarding and wonderful! The ascent is challenging uphill climb and then the rock scrambles are quite long, but so fun. There are two spots that you jump over crevices that are quite scary. The summit is great, then the descent is a lot easier on your body but seems so long after that challenging ascent. Overall great hike!! Would not recommend for anyone that isn’t in good shape and has any joint problems. Highly recommend to everyone else!! Took it at a decent pace with breaks, finished in 6 hours.

Mounika Reddy Likki
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
HikingScramble

It was a super fun and great hike. I loved the scramble part of the trail where you gotta crawl, jump and climb. It has a beautiful view once you are up at the summit. I Highly recommend this trail if you are visiting shenandoah national park.

Solveig Gronau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
Hiking

This was a very great hike! The descent feels a little long but the rock scramble was so much fun which made it all worth it. I arrived at 7:45 AM on Saturday, July 25th, and got one of the last parking spots at the main lot. However, there was still plenty of room in the second parking lot that is typically dedicated to campers and busses. It was very crowded on the way up but not at all on the way down if you follow the actual loop.

Jason Richardson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 26, 2020
HikingBugsFeeRockyScramble

Great hike, at least the first half. Scramble was fun and doable for those in moderate shape. The second section of the loop was terrible boring. Most of which was a gravel road. But worth the the 5mile down hill walk out. Large crowds.

Alexis Gushiken
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
HikingRockyScramble
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