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Old Rag Mountain Loop

HARD 2706 reviews
#1 of 195 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 is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from April until October.

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

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

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

Do it clockwise. Great scrambling as you near the top. It's extra "exciting" with ice and snow! A peaceful and relaxing fire road to gradually descend and return.

camping
scramble
4 days ago

let me start by saying this is the greatest hike in the continental United states my girlfriend and I have ever done. we did it as a overnighter and camped below the cutoff for camping and played all day on its summit. we started at the main lot near the nethers and took the ridge trail up and back down turning into a out and back not the loop to the fire road. this hike is very strenuous not difficult just strenuous it is not for those afraid of heights or small spaces. you will have to climb, jump, crawl, slide, and shimmy. we helped several ahead of us and at some spots its log jammed. it's a amazing winter hike just be careful because any ice or water from rain is down right deadly here. wear shoes or hiking boots with gummy grip such as columbia omni grip system(not a paid plug) because foot grip is everything here. with that said if you are in shape, hike often, and love to climb rock and scramble this is a absolute must. dont let it scare you though if you are not the most in shape or experienced just take it super slow, allow for making only a mile a hour if your not in shape. the switchbacks are rocky but not rough, they gain elevation effectively and will get your heart rate up. the last mile n half plus is all rock scramble. start super early or camp out like we did, you need a permit but you'll have the place to yourself in winter once everyone is gone.

hiking
5 days ago

Another great trip up old rag. The distance is about a mile longer if you include the trip to and from the parking lot. Best hike on the East Coast

backpacking
5 days ago

Old Rag was awesome. Hiked it on 12/8, weather was perfect and trail was in fantastic shape. Left the parking lot just before 8am and reached the rock scramble at 9am. Scramble was a lot of fun and not too challenging. Had a few points that were bottlenecked but the kind folks let me pass. Reached the summit by 10am. Summit was spectacular and spent some time taking in the views and chatting with other hikers. The hike back was nothing to report, very easy and a nice way to decompress. It was the best hike of my three days spent here in Shenandoah.

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
6 days ago

Stunning trail. Just when you think your reaching the top you find yourself looking at another peak. that happens like 4 times before you reach the actual peak. trail was starting to get icy. definitely rewarded with the trip back using the nice and even fire roads

hiking
scramble
6 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

I hiked this loop on 12/5 (hiked it solo) and loved it! Definitely challenging in some parts but you will feel a sense of accomplishment once you reach the summit. One thing I was not expecting was a dusting of snow at the top of the mountain and ice in some parts. Most of the rocks on the rock scramble were dry but in some places a little trickier with snow. I still made it and I am a woman hiking alone, so very doable but just be aware! I probably would wait until warmer weather next time. I was there on a Tuesday, started hiking at 9:30am and there were only a handful of cars in the lot, and I saw maybe 10 other hikers total while hiking. It took me 5 hours to complete and when I got back, there were still only a few cars in the lot. If you want less crowds, then a weekday in the winter is definitely the way to go! Just be prepared for some possible snow and ice.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
9 days ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
11 days ago

I hiked Old Rag on 11/29 in sunny, clear weather and it took me 4.5 hours from start to finish at a moderate pace. It’s a 3.8 mile hike to the peak and 5.2 mile return by a fire road. The fire road is over 2.5 miles long. I’d say Old Rag is definitely a difficult trail and I work out regularly and consider myself a fit person. I would recommend packing very lean because there are very narrow passages you have to literally crawl through on your knees that won’t fit a backpack. There was also some ice on some rocks and occasional muddy puddles though but it didn’t really complicate the hike. I’d recommit coming to the site early because the parking lot gets filled up pretty quickly. The park now requires a self-registration and in my case, I got the very last registration card they had to pay for entry. Not sure how they monitor the parking lot/payments but there was a long line behind me and the park was out of the registration envelopes.

hiking
11 days ago

This was the second time I completed the hike and this time I didn't underestimate how long the hike will take (especially the last half mile to the summit). It is an interesting hike, but the top section goes really slowly on the weekend because of the people traffic. We were able to manage it with two kids (11 y.o. and 13 y.o.). I think the kids had an easier time in some parts than the adults with backpacks. For anyone staying at the PATC Corbin Cabin, we added about 7 miles to the hike. It was a long day, but doable.

hiking
scramble
12 days ago

Loved this hike! The first few miles are definitely a bit of an endurance test, but anyone reasonably comfortable hiking could handle it without issue. We reached the summit in about 3 hours with plenty of breaks to catch our breath and enjoy the views. Getting an early start will help avoid the crowds, and we were fortunate that the scramble wasn’t log jammed. All the reviews are true though - it’s worth the crowds for the views and the great scrambling opportunities. I would recommend this hike to anyone looking for a bit of a challenge, but don’t think anyone should be scared off by the “hard” rating.

hiking
13 days ago

Perfect day on the mountain. Summit was fairly crowded but the hike was glorious. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

hiking
13 days ago

great hike. the first couple miles are dirt trail. it says switchbacks, but not what i was expecting. the boulder scramble was difficult in some places. nothing crazy, just having a partner to hike with makes it easier. wasn’t too busy, but there was a bit of a back-up in some spots. i wouldn’t recommend this one on a rainy day as the rocks get slippery

hiking
14 days ago

My favorite hike in Shenandoah National Park! Avoided crowds on a weekday.

hiking
muddy
14 days ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
14 days ago

Old rag was on my list for a long time and I finally did this year during thanksgiving holiday, that’s what I’m thankful for! The whole loop took us around 6.5 hours with a couple of breaks which are indeed needed to enjoy the scenery and refresh. The summit was just a bit crowded as we expected but it was not too packed. It’s definitely a challenging trail but fun. Things you might want to have with you are gloves if it’s too cold since you’ll need to touch rocks. Also it’s better not to have a big backpack with you. The only disappointment was that I saw no bears! :| :D

hiking
14 days ago

Excellent hike like everyone says. 3 miles uphill to get to the rock scramble which lasts about 1.5 miles. Really fun and challenging hike. Downside is the 3 miles mike down on a fire road. Kind of a let down once you get off the mountain. Did the loop in 3.5 hours but I was hiking alone and able to make my own pace. Great weather day in the low 40s. Perfect for a strenuous hike.

hiking
fee
rocky
scramble
15 days ago

Great Thanksgivings Day hike. Started around 5:15 from parking area which is about 1/2 mile to base Started up the kick back trail in the dark. Sun came up faster than I thought Good views through the trees on the way up. It took about 2.5 -3 hrs to reach summit at a moderate pace testing and taking in the views. Great open views. Wind was strong on the right side of trail opposite in the summer last time I was there. I have hitting this trail since the early 80s it has became an over populated hike. If you plan it right, you can pick a day and time when you won’t see many people. Weekends are out of the question unless you start before sunrise ( otherwise you will have to wait in line to scramble the rocks. New construction is happening at the base ( looks like a rd or state park station may be going in. Remember camping at the base of the mountain on the right down by the crick. It’s private property but back then we had permission. Best memory was sliding and tumbling down the hill where we were camping in the dark with bottles of wine and not one of them broke. I was pretty banged up but the alcohol survived!!! Best place around when you time it right

hiking
15 days ago

Great trail. Really awesome weather for hiking. 3 miles up before the rock scramble. Hard but great. Rock scramble was a lot of fun. About 1.5 miles. Tons of great views. The negative about the tail is that it ends with a 3 mile fire trail which is a little boring and easy. What a great run though.

hiking
icy
15 days ago

Amazing time. Entire mountain was in a cloud. Rock scramble was super icy. Almost dangerous. Kinda scary. Totally worth it. No bears.

hiking
rocky
scramble
16 days ago

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