Overlooking Old Rag Mountain, the Robertson Mountain hike has one of the steepest trails in the central section of the Shenandoah National Park, with an elevation gain on the Robertson Mountain Trail of 1,700 feet in just over 1.5 miles.
From the parking area, pass the closed gate hiking up the yellow blazed Berry Hollow Fire Road for 0.8 miles. Here you reach the intersection of the Old Rag Fire Road on the left, the Saddle Trail on the right, and Weakley Hollow Fire Road that continues straight.
Continue straight on the yellow blazed Weakley Hollow Fire Road (concrete post points towards Old Rag Parking Area) for 1.2 miles and arrive at the Robertson Mountain Trail.
This was an interesting hike. I did Robertson mountain as the middle leg of a grueling 26.7 mi. 3 summit day hike (starting at White Oak Canyon parking lot, hiking Old rag, Robertson Mountain, and Cedar Run/Hawksbill/White Oak Canyon).
The hike up Robertson as described is quite rigorous. The little side trail to the summit isn't too hard to find and you'll quickly know that you missed it as you start to descend. With no leaves on the trees, there is a rock outcropping that provides a decent, slightly obstructed view of Old Rag. But, the real beauty of this hike is the solitude and the view to the West-SouthWest of Skyline drive and Hawksbill. This was especially exciting for me knowing that I was headed there next.
I think I saw a pretty large bobcat scurrying down a tree on the Weakly Hollow fire road...it was either that or a small mountain lion...or the largest squirrel ever seen by man. But, I only saw it about 50 yards away out of the corner of my eye coming down a tree right next to the trail and then bounding behind a little embankment and out of sight.
Anyway, Robertson Mountain is a decent hike. It was quite peaceful at the summit and there is something charming about the gnarled pine tree right at the summit. If you want something fairly quick, but steep and physically taxing with some solitude at the top, it's a good bet if you are in the Old Rag area.
As for the 3 summit hike, it was a great challenge, but I don't know that I'll ever do that again. Not the same route anyway. Towards the end it was more of a chore than a joy and I was ready to be done.
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 14, 2014
This is the second time I've done this hike and I decided to go clockwise. I actually think it was more difficult clockwise than the way the map above suggests, as the ascent is much longer. What a great workout. I also added another star to this because the views were absolutely beautiful with the trees bare. In summer you can see quite a bit but there's SO MANY people coming off Old Rag - there were way less "Old Raggers" to encounter this time (and actually, once you're on Robertson Mountain trail, there's maybe one or two other hikers). I'm looking forward to going back again this summer, maybe add on Old Rag? Now that would be a great workout!
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 19, 2014
The trail was definitely great! We arrived to the parking lot around 11:30AM, and we luckily parked in the very last spot. There is a pretty steady slight incline on the first fire road, but is barely noticeable. The work does not really start until you turn off onto the significantly steeper Robertson Mountain Trail. We foolishly kept thinking we were close to the summit because of the consistently great mini overlooks. But the work really pays off when you arrive at the summit (like the other reviewers mentioned, don't miss the left!), where there is a panoramic view of the mountains and plenty of room to spread out. You'll know it when you see it! We were at the summit for a significance period and did not see anyone else there.
The only small downside to this hike is that a lot of it is on fire roads, but very scenic, lovely, and easy fireroads (much of the latter half of the hike is downhill fireroads). Additionally, the park ranger alerted us that they post rangers further along the trail to check for payment or the annual pass, and they would force you to walk back down the trail if you didn't have proof. Just a warning! We didn't run into anybody, but this may be more true for the Old Rag hikers.
Date of Hike: Sunday, August 24, 2014
Under threat of rain, my dog and I went on this hike anyway, looking for a great workout (and a great workout we received!). The Maps app on my iPhone took me to the small upper closed parking lot for Old Rag, passing many, many hikers along the way. Ugh! So if you're using Google Maps, plug in "Berry Hollow, Robertson, VA 22743". Maybe I'm the only one who had this trouble LOL.
The first part, up Berry Hollow Fire Road, is a slight incline and maybe one or two other hikers. But the minute you turn right onto the Weakley Hollow Fire Road, you join probably 40-50 other people coming off Old Rag. Since I had my dog with me, I got a few glares and comments from people that dogs are not allowed on this part… they are allowed - just not on Old Rag Ridge and Old Rag Saddles Trails. I was so glad to turn left onto the Robertson Mountain Trail!
The decent up Robertson Mountain was not crazy steep, but it was relentless. The views at the top are well worth it and as a previous hiker stated, don't miss the short trail up to the summit - it'll be off to your left at the top. It was so pretty with almost 360 views in August. I can't wait to see what it looks like in the fall and winter. When you're at the top, there's a flat, slanted rock to the right that you can scramble over to get to the views.
After you come off the summit and back onto the main trail, the trail hits a T-intersection and you'll want to go left (you'll see a blue blaze shortly after). The decent is quick to the Old Rag Fire Road and an easy downhill all the way back to the parking area. I finished this in 3.5 hours with a short break for lunch at the top. An excellent hike. I've never done Old Rag and honestly, I have no desire after seeing the crowds. Maybe on a Tuesday in February at 7am!
Date of Hike: Sunday, February 16, 2014
We hiked this after a big snow fall last winter -- broke the trail up and it was a killer. Just getting around to writing this up now (7/01/2014). The hike from the fire road to summit is steep enough but breaking knee-deep and higher snow really made the climb a chore. We've hiked this many times when Old Rag has been too crowded and it is a great alternative. You won't get the views but you'll get just as much exercise. With snow on the ground and no previous tracks the trail can be difficult to spot. there seem to be far fewer blue blazes on this trail than in others in SNP. Took some photos and hope they can get posted. There's a metal marker on the top of the very top rock.