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Old Rag Mountain Loop is a 16.4 kilometer 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 16.4 km Elevation gain 808 m Route type Loop
Hiking Forest River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Rocky Scramble Fee No dogs
Description
Waypoints (13)
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Getting There

Shenandoah National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $35 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is $15 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $55. 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 (3760)
Photos (3416)
Recordings (2512)
Completed (7861)
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Jen W
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 26, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!RockyScramble

Went the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and parked at 7:40am. Plenty of parking then; by the time I finished around 1pm the two upper lots were full. Didn't see many people on the way up or down, but plenty at the peak. There were some false summits, but the view is still spectacular there too! Hiked solo, so no one there to help guide me through the rock scramble. Had blind faith in my boot treads, and mentally kept telling myself that people have brought kids through there...not for the faint of heart! I'm in decent shape, so it was more of a mental challenge. Had a small daypack, had to remove it a few times and toss it up or through the rocks.

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Evan Jones
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Hiking
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Colene Hastings
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Hiking
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sree go
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 25, 2020
Hiking

Great! Amazing hike in general. Loved the rock scrambles as well.

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Paul West
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

In town to visit in-laws from a Texas. The mountains called and they surely delivered. This was honestly my first “hike hike”. You want to talk about a fitness challenge, look no further. I get down pretty good 5-6 times a week in the gym and this is the perfect mix of fitness and craziness. You’ll definitely scaling rocks, like I never imagined and you’ll be whooped by the end. My wife and I paused at the summit to eat and it was awesome. Take note: there are two false summits and the mountain keeps challenging you. Epic time. I definitely want to do it again.

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Chelsea Mongeau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!Scramble
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Samuel Blumenthal
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Akshay Yembarwar
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HikingGreat!RockyScramble

Great hike!

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Kelsey Roberts
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 23, 2020
Hiking

This hike is fantastic. In the rain, it was a bit slippery and treacherous at times. Definitely harder for shorter folks to traverse without help from taller friends :)

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Liz Palermo
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Richard Lowell
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Hiking

 Trails in great condition

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Matt Bowyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 21, 2020
Hiking

I definitely went the opposite way that everyone was going. Wasn’t intentional, but didn’t have to worry about passing, or being passed, by others! Very high traffic! The way up the fire road and to the submit counterclockwise was mostly mild But the way down was sketchy at points as your scrambling over, under, and (literally) through rocks. Thought there could have been more blazes on these. Jumped down and through a steep boulder to eventually find out it wasn’t the trail. Getting back up was challenging to say least. Had an InReach on me and was thinking about sending an SOS. Nonetheless, threw my 19lb pack up and crawled through a narrow hole and escaped! Ended up meeting some new friends as they saw me crawling out! All and all, definitely a fun adventure. I’d recommend doing this route clockwise so that you aren’t racing against sundown to make it down the rocks! Not an easy trail... kicked my butt was well worth the experience!

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Veronika McKenney
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 21, 2020
HikingGreat!Scramble

Beautiful and so much fun. We arrived around 8:45 and had to park in the overflow parking. It is only 0.3mile easy walk to the trailhead. Having read the review, I expected some crowds, but was still a bit surprised at the amount of people already there. We went clockwise and really enjoyed the switchbacks/ The ascent certainly helped to "loosen" up the traffic. There was some waiting in line at the beginning of the rock scramble but not too bad and it truly was just at the beginning. Rock scramble was fun, some parts were a bit challenging - it helps if you have a partner. The views from the top are amazing. The fire road was a nice change. At the end of the fire road, you have to take the trail back through the woods and the initial part is slightly uphill (after 9 miles this is a little painful:) before it connects with the beginning of "the original" trail. Will definitely do this hike again. However, highly recommend starting early and if possible, not on a weekend, so the trail is not so crowded.

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Ronnie Tipton
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Followme for10miles
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HikingBlowdownGreat!RockyScramble

Great hike. Fun.

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Abbi Brown
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Jimmy Endres Jr
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 18, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!RockyScramble

As always a pleasure and challenging! We took our 8 year old daughter with us! The new trailhead and parking lot are way better than last year!

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