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Old Rag Mountain Loop is a 10.2 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 and is best used from May until October.

Length 10.2 mi Elevation gain 2,650 ft Route type Loop
Hiking Forest River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Rocky Scramble Fee No dogs
Description
Waypoints (13)
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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.

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Reviews (3500)
Photos (2824)
Recordings (2298)
Completed (7384)
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Devin Smith
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Hiking
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Frank Bords
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Hiking

Best and most difficult hike I have ever done

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Sheila Chapman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 20, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!Scramble

Went early on Friday morning to miss the crowds. Encountered a few people along the hike but at the summit, many groups were parked and enjoying the views! It’s a great 9 mile trek with steep inclines and challenging rock scramble...upper body strength is needed here. Didn’t have any issues with waits anywhere along the trail. Found some great tucked away areas for unique photo ops and definitely some breathtaking views!!!

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Aviva Vincent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
HikingGreat!

The full loop took 5.5hr.HPerfect, beautiful weather. Scramble was challenging and fun (some crevices were hard for bigger bodies or small body with big pack). A dose of adventure and upper body strength necessary. Down is a bridle trail. hiked 10/19 and do not have the issue of lines at the scramble - we let people pass us occasionally, but certainly no line.

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joe francolino
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 19, 2020
WalkingScramble

Certainly looked like a great hike but there is at least “timing” to consider. Rookie mistake on our part going on a weekend in October. DO NOT DO THIS! We spent hours on single file lines waiting for people to go through the rock scramble. Eventually we had to turn back before we lost the whole day and we started at 10AM. I’ll revisit it on a weekday and later in the day. From the point we got to it definitely looked like under different circumstances it could have been a special hike. Our experience was rife with frustration, standing still, line cutters, and inability to appreciate vantage points. Looking forward to correcting this review at a later time.

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Olivia Valone
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!RockyScramble

Very beautiful trail, fairly difficult on the way up though the scrambles were fun. Well worth it for the views. Definitely fine for someone with moderate fear of heights! Way down was much easier. We got there around 12 and there were quite a bit of people, finished around 5:30.

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Shayan Raissian
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!RockyScramble

First time at the Old Rag. Came with a full car, 10/19/20, and had a national parks pass which granted us access. The trail was beautiful and fairly difficult. Very crowded, lots of waiting at the rock scrambles. My group used a short cut to get past the long line, though it was more difficult and dangerous. Would definitely do again, would try to get their earlier.

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Nichole Burkhart
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Austin Bealiles
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Fran Ziska
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HikingRocky

I would describe it as a moderate mountain hike with beautiful views.

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Ashley Clark
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Hiking

Frbftbftb

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CC Ayers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 18, 2020
Hiking

Old Rag is a challenging hike that never gets old. Unfortunately, everyone knows this and it’s become a major attraction. We hiked it on Saturday and the crowd was ridiculous. Recommend doing this hike during the week and starting early. The weekend crowds are causing 30 minute traffic jams on the peak in multiple spots.

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Claudia Pors
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
HikingGreat!Scramble

I’ve been to Old Rag several times and I love taking friends who haven’t been before! I always get there at around 7/7:30am to avoid crowds, but yesterday (10-17-2020) I was surprised at just how packed the trail was on the way up. There was just enough space to hold a conversation with my friend and not feel interrupted but there was always a group a few feet ahead and behind. Also on two occasions there were groups that went off trail to take shortcuts in the brush, so that was disappointing to see. I’m guessing because of COVID more people are going outdoors, and it was a beautiful Saturday, so plan to go even earlier than usual and be patient with other people.

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Volodymyr Hartsev
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Mangali Claire
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Tim Quigley
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RunningGreat!Scramble

5:15 start with a headlamp. Sunrise with about 20 other people on summit. Back at the car in the hollow at 9:15 to be met by music festival sized crowds. The rock scramble is not anything crazy if you have experience. Please don’t be like the 4 kids I passed in the dark with cell phones for light and no water or food. Please don’t be like the kids I saw at the bottom of the fire road lost, without a map, thinking they were headed up the mountain.

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Julia Rudlaff
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Hiking

Incredible!! Challenging for sure but not impossible

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Kenneth Mcmillin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
Hiking

Very challenging, very very fun. Got to the parking lot at 7:05 AM on Sunday and the main lot was already almost full. Some bottlenecking at the rock scramble, but not too bad with as early as we were. Did lose the trail for a minute nearish the summit. Cold and windy at the top. Well worth the effort.

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Riz Nasar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
HikingGreat!

What a wonderful trail. It was hard and treacherous at times. Totally worth it. I am new to hiking but really enjoyed it. This one comes with some breathtakingly beautiful views that totally takes your breath away. I will surely do this one once again this season. My recommendation is to go an a weekday and if on a weekend go very early. the trai backs up. it took us good 9 hours to finish our hike.

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Kim Wise
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!RockyScramble

Definitely the hardest hike that I’ve ever completed. The rock scramble challenged me both physically & mentally as I have a fear of heights. Take plenty of water. It’s worth the effort & the hike down is beautiful too.

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