This past March, I had a month long business trip to Virginia. Before I left home I decided to bring my hiking gear along on my trip. During my trip I was able to hike different sections of the A.T. and various trails located in the Shenandoah N.P. But one hike I completed stands out the most in my mind. My hike up Old Rag Mountain.
Old Rag Mountain is located in the eastern portion of the Shenandoah N.P. and is a popular destination at the park. Old Rag’s exposed rocky summit stands at an elevation of 3,291 ft. and is quite a bit different than other summits in the park. Old Rag offers a 9 mile circuit hike or a 5.4 mile out-and-back hike. Inexpieranced hikers, be aware that portions of this trail can be very strenuous. You will, hike to a false summit and from this point the trail turns into a rock scramble. On your way to the summit you will expierance splitter cracks, dihedrals, crystal pinching slabs and bouldering. The difficulty level ranges from beginner to expert (5.4 to 5.12 on the Yosemite Decimal system) till you reach the summit. For a easier hike up Old Rag, park your vehicle at the parking area at the end of Va.600. Then follow Berry Hollow Fire Rd to the Saddle Trail and straight up Old Rag. I recommend this trail for the Hiker that wants amazing views but not the amazing work out.
What to pack and times to go? I suggest you bring ample water, snacks and a light pack. Make sure you bring your camera; Old Rag has truely amazing views worth remembering. This hike can be done with larger packs, but it’s not necessary. But if you choose to, make sure you have cordage to lower or retrieve your pack. Hit the trail early, crowding on the trail can be crazy at times. I hit the trail at 7:00 am and had no issues at all. Weather on Old Rag can make conditions on the trail very risky, so make sure you plan accordingly.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 9 mile circuit hike on Old Rag Mountain. It only took a few hours to complete and the views are amazing. So, if you’re a thru-hiker on the A.T. or just visiting Shenandoah N.P. You gotta check out Old Rag Mountain.