The Old Rag Mountain hike in the Shenandoah National Park is one of the most popular hikes in the mid-Atlantic region. With many spectacular panoramic views, and one of the most challenging rock scrambles in the park, this circuit hike is a favorite of many hikers. Old Rag is Shenandoah’s most popular and most dangerous hike. The number of blogs and websites about this hike attests to its popularity. The number of search and rescue missions each year attests to its danger. There’s no doubt that the scramble is great fun and the views are spectacular. A day on Old Rag is one of Shenandoah’s premier experiences.
As far as must-do hikes in Va, Old Rag seems at the top of the list and I was determined to do it…. after some gentle convincing of my fellow travelers,(it was not all that hard to convince them), we were off, despite the NPM dire warnings: http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/old_rag.htm
We arrived around 11am and got hiking… After 4 miles or so of uphill slog, Anna and I were lagging behind , as the Coyles surged ahead. We had to even put up with taunts from hikers coming the other way: “do you know the coyles? They wanted me to tell you that “they were kicking your ass”. Nice huh?
We eventually arrived at the rock scramble, that would take us to the summit… this is perhaps a mile of rock climbing, scrambling, and essentially tons of fun (“The Ridge Trail takes you across a strenuous rock scramble to the summit”).. We attacked the tasks with teamwork, humor, and more than a little sweat. Very very cool.
We attained the summit and lunch around 230pm. Best egg salad sandwiches’ ever.
After the summit, it was a slow walk down, as we had to get off the mountain, and then complete the circle by walking down the fire road. It was a long walk, but Anna totally won it at the end (first back to the parking lot), though I am not sure she knew she was even racing.. We were tired.
Summary from Everytrail: Overview:This is a very challenging 9-mile 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. Beginning at Old Rag Parking lot, located south of Sperryville, Virginia, this circuit hike ascends Old Rag Mountain to the well-known boulder scramble and leads to spectacular views of the Shenandoah valley from the top of Old Rag. The Ridge Trail begins the ascent, through the strenuous rock scramble to the summit and returns by way of the Saddle Trail passing two shelters and continues on Weakley Hollow Fire Road and return to the Old Rag parking area. This is an incredible and rewarding strenuous hike. Old Rag takes no prisoners, so make sure you’re well fit before attempting this hike. The Mountain Club of Maryland considers this their highlight hike during the fall so that one can experience all of the fall color glory in Shenandoah National Park. Try to take this hike during the week and cut down on the amount of people on the trail. Take friends as there are parts of the boulder scramble that require teamwork to overcome. Injuries can occur during the scramble, so take your time while traversing this section. Total elevation gain 2674 and equal loss.