Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail

HARD 873 reviews
#1 of 138 trails in

Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail is a 9 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
9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2355 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

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
2 days ago

I went on this trail with my son's Boy Scout troop in October of 2017. The trail was awesome. Great views and great rock formations. If you don't like boulder hopping then this isn't the trail for you. So pack a lunch and hike to the top and find a spot to enjoy the views and lunch!

5 days ago

Best hike I’ve had so far. Definitely worth going in the off season, hardly any traffic. Went with a group of friends and we definitely built a stronger bond because we used a lot of teamwork due to the obstacles(ice, rain, height difference, experience, etc.)

hiking
10 days ago

Hiked this trail in the rain, which got a little dicey at times, but it was definitely worth it! Because of the weather we only saw only about 4 or 5 other people on the trail the entire day. The downside was that we could hardly see anything from the top of Old Rag due to all the fog, but it was still a really fun hike.

13 days ago

great hike

hiking
13 days ago

Definitely my favorite place I have been hiking. I am 19, 5’7”, and around 180lbs so im not in the best shape, but I have a passion for scrambling. It was 10° when I got there but after about a half hour of hiking I actually needed to remove my hoodie! I see people mentioning the need for significant upper body strength but imo it wasnt really as important as people chalked it up to be. One thing that did cause some problems: My height. There are a few points where you need to scale the face of a boulder and the shorter you are, the harder it is (Though I managed to get by). Another thing that happened was about halfway through the scrambling my calves began to “lock” into place and hurt whenever I plantar flexed (bent foot toes facing down). I had a sports drink with me which reduced the problem in a matter of minutes, so if you arent used to this type of terrain, I highly recommend you bring something with plenty of electrolytes in addition to water. I would say as long as youre prepared, and somewhat in shape (but willing to push yourself), this is a hike worth making the trip for!

hiking
14 days ago

Great trail with some fun rock scrambles. I went up the rocks which was more fun and am sure safer as well when out alone. I like the solitude of trail hiking so did the loop at about 8:30 and took me about 3.5 hours of moving fairly quick and and only saw maybe 12 people. Best getting the popular trails done in the off season. Will definitely be a trail I’ll have friends do as well.

hiking
15 days ago

Busy but one of my favorite hikes

16 days ago

Just amazing views at the top. Love the rock scramble. Very busy trail. The fire road, which is the last 5 miles of the loop is rather boring, but it allows you to rest after scrambling.

hiking
18 days ago

must have strength of Steven seagal for the top portion of this trail.

hiking
23 days ago

More difficult of a trail, but well worth it when you get to see the gorgeous views at the summit. Recommend to bring snacks and plenty of water for this hike because it’s an all day adventure. I’ve done this trail twice now and it’s something I always look forward to doing again.

hiking
26 days ago

Added to my favorite list! I did this loop different by parking at the Berry Hollow parking area and started my hike from there. It is 3.3 miles to the Ridge Trail going down the Weakely Hollow Fire Road. From there the Ridge Trail takes you up to the ridge and on through some nice rock scrambles with some challenging climbs (especially when covered in ice). There are some awesome views along the way. Once you reach the summit, it is a nice area for a snack or lunch break. From there I continued on with the loop by going down the Saddle Trail and followed it to its end at the junction with Old Rag, Berry Hollow, & Weakely Hollow Fire Roads. From there it was a short hike back to the parking area. I logged 10.9 miles on this hike.

26 days ago

Tough but worth it

hiking
27 days ago

This is a must do hike however it well deserves the hard rating if you do the full loop. The outcropping of rock are huge which require climbing, scrambling, squeezing and crawling. Very fun. Took almost 6 hours, spent 20-30 minutes at the top admiring the views. I’d like to go back in the summer or fall when the leaves are on the trees, it has to be a totally different view.

hiking
1 month ago

Love this trail! Awesome rock scramble at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Great feeling of accomplishment after this hike. Difficult but well with the effort! Some of the most beautiful views I've seen.

hiking
1 month ago

Wonderful trail! I forgot how awesome the scenery was along the way. I had been here a few years ago and forgot how challenging some of the parts were. We did the loop backwards, ending with the rock scramble. We avoided the rain until we got almost to the summit. Remember to follow the blue marks, as we got off trail for a mile and a half.

hiking
2 months ago

I’m a novice hiker, but LOVED this trail!

I went in December, not expecting it to be snowy, boy was I wrong! The trail was extremely icy and slippery until the rock scramble, but the views were well worth it. This was my first time ever experiencing a ‘rock scramble’ and it was definitely exciting! There were a few tricky places and I definitely recommend going with someone who has already been before as I would have been lost by myself towards the summit.

DO NOT BRING A BULKY BACKPACK as you will be squeezing between rocks quite often. Do wear rough pants as it was easier in some places to slide down rocks instead of risking breaking an ankle.

We hiked about 11 miles from 8a-2p.

hiking
2 months ago

Breathtaking sights, and a great workout.

hiking
2 months ago

This was an amazing hike that me and a few friends did in the spring and the fall, both times were beautiful! The leaves at the summit are breath taking and the rock scramble was the best part!

hiking
2 months ago

she is called a old rag for a reason. But a good scramble

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