Trip Planner: USA / Virginia / Shenandoah National Park / Old Rag Mountain Hike
With numerous panoramic viewpoints and one of the most challenging rock scrambles in the park, Old Rag Mountain Hike is one of the most popular and most dangerous hikes in the region due to its length and the difficulty of the terrain. The most common route to the top is a 14 km (9 mi) loop trail that starts at the parking area. Note that even experienced hikers often struggle to scramble across the giant granite boulders that make up some parts of the trail. To avoid the crowds, go during the week. Plan to visit Old Rag Mountain Hike and other customer-reviewed, writer-recommended Shenandoah National Park attractions using our Shenandoah National Park trip planner.
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Old Rag Mountain Hike reviews
I have wanted to do this hike for some time. We timed it at the end of October so we could see all of the leaves changing colors. It did not disappoint. I am a little slower hiker due to some...
I have wanted to do this hike for some time. We timed it at the end of October so we could see all of the leaves changing colors. It did not disappoint. I am a little slower hiker due to some... more »
I hiked Old Rag the Monday before Thanksgiving and had an incredible experience. Some takeaways from my trip: Driving: I left DC at 6am and pulled up just after 8am. It would’ve been sooner but I...
I hiked Old Rag the Monday before Thanksgiving and had an incredible experience. Some takeaways from my trip: Driving: I left DC at 6am and pulled up just after 8am. It would’ve been sooner but I... more »
I've done this hike about 10 times, but hadn't done it in over 25 years, (I'll be turning 65 soon, but I was happy I still made it!). Although, I must admit, it was a bit easier when I was in my 30s..... more
I've done this hike about 10 times, but hadn't done it in over 25 years, (I'll be turning 65 soon, but I was happy I still made it!). Although, I must admit, it was a bit easier when I was in my 30s..... more »
Amazing hike. The uphill was challenging and as a 5ft woman some of the scrambles were quite challenging as well. The views were incredible, and I’m so glad I did it. The way down was a long way, but a lot of it was a fire road which was much welcome after the long climb. Bring lots of water and snacks! We had lunch up top-just remember to leave no trace. My fiancé did the hike in tennis shoes so it’s doable but wouldn’t recommend. I was very thankful for my hiking boots with good traction and ankle support!
This is an intense hike with multiple challenges. If you are an experienced hiker, the scramble is likely to be your favorite part. If you are inexperienced, the scramble will probably be challenging and a little intimidating (though not insurmountable for most). If you are very small or large person you will face some unique obstacles including some extended reaches, squeezes, and/or flexibility challenges. Again, not insurmountable for most, just challenging. The trail begins at the moderate level and goes “up” from there. I’ve tried to include pictures of many of the scramble sections to help folks get an idea of what the rock scramble looks like. The trail gets progressively rockier the higher you go until you finally get to the scramble section. One of the first intimidating elements is an approximately 8’ gap you have to shimmy down. It looks scary at first glance but is actually not bad as there are easy foot and hand holds. This remains true for much of the rest of the hike where scrambling is required. There were only a couple of spots that didn’t have easy foot or handholds. A hiking buddy is a great idea. The hike down from the summit is pretty easy on the fire trail, although it is long (5 miles). Make sure you have plenty of water. Like many have said, parking on weekends can be tough. We got there at 8:30 am and there were 2 parking spots left in the main lot (there is an overflow lot).
My favorite DC getaway place. Love this place. VERY IMPORTANT to know that you need to register ahead of time before they let you in the trail since it’s a very popular trail. There’s absolutely no signal from any carrier whatsoever, so make sure you register before you go. Please wear appropriate shoes, I’ve seen multiple people breaking ankles here. So be careful. And lastly, just enjoy one of the most amazing views you can find in VA.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Intense hike but so worth it. In my opinion, you do this hike to push yourself and for the rock scramble. If the weather is >50% chance of rain, weigh your options. Got stuck in a downpour with 2.5 miles left. Thank goodness the for park ranger who was at the fire road (forget her name but last name is French. She was there on Friday, 8.5.22 afternoon). This hike is not for the faint of heart and will take a toll on you. It is steep. It is long. It has incredible rock scrambles. Yes, the views at the top are amazing. Yes, you feel like you have accomplished something special. You have to exit Shenandoah to get to the entrance. You also must have a day ticket ($1). 800 are given out per day. Be ready, bring water and snacks. *I'm going to put this in all of my reviews: the mileage at the trail heads are wrong by about a half mile give or take
I like to seek challenging hikes and I believe that the best views are earned. For a three hour drive, I could do this every weekend. The trail is in outstanding condition, well-marked, safe and easily accessible for most hikers. Plan for seven hours of hiking, but it will feel less because the rock scramble is fun and engaging.
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