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Hiker Comments for the Old Rag Mountain Hike - 1 to 582 of 582   
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 8, 2019
In response to the Old Rag parking situation post. The National Park Service and PATC are building a new parking lot for Old Rag to accommodate overflow cars-

By: Robert Look Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 28, 2019
I have heard that there is a new owner of the pasture next to the Old Rag NPS parking lot who is not interested in being in the business of offering paid overflow parking services for the NPS Old Rag parking lot.

The existing NPS free parking lot has approximately 250 spaces. In recent years, on busy Fall weekends, it has not been unusual for several hundred cars to park in the paid overflow pasture.

The parking situation at Old Rag will probably be a rapidly changing situation but based on what I heard, you should not assume there will be the option of paying to park in the pasture next to the NPS lot this Fall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 12, 2019
Hiked from Nethers main lot and started at 0900 with my wife and some teenage children aged 11 to 19. We are in good shape but we took a few breaks along the upward trek. Temp was 80's and sunny and we were glad we decided to hike on Monday and with school just coming into session in VA. Rock scramble for novice's is more difficult than some would expect. Encountered a black bear about 20 yards off the trail on way down the road past Shelter #2 but it did seem to mind us. TIP# 1: Change socks at summit. GPS showed 10 miles in distance. Start to finish was about 7 hrs. Good luck.

By: Tubal Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 26, 2019
Arrived around 7 am on a relatively cool Friday in July to a virtually empty parking lot. I ran into no more than two dozen other hikers, mostly at the peak. I have done this hike a few times in recent years, although I'd never go on a weekend as crowds would diminish what has always been a great hike.

A lot more signage warning about bears this time.

A park ranger was at the peak patrolling in relation to bear sightings and noted they were having some bear concerns, one at the peak in particular.

I did not see any bears on 7/26/2019, as I did in early October 2018.

The parking lot was about half full upon my return shortly after noon.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 4, 2019
i have been there during 4th July 2019 with 5 friends and one kid. This hiking path was great and challenging mainly the rocky part on the top for almost 3 mile . great 360 degree view . It took almost 6 hours for us. I have uploaded my full experience in youtube to see you can click below link :

By: Mark D Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 17, 2019
I've hiked Old Rag over a dozen times, and it never gets old. It's one of those hikes that truly rewards your effort - with great views, challenging rock scrambling, and a sense that you really did something challenging when you make it back to your car. It's the one hike that anyone who visits the greater DC area must do.

As others have noted, the trail can get very crowded... so get there early and pack your patience. Stay away from weekends and holidays, and whenever you go, plan to be at the parking area no later than 8:00. Since it's so crowded it's important to practice good trail etiquette. Don't follow too closely. Offer to let fast movers pass you. Give uphill hikers the right of way. Alternate uphill and downhill parties at the tighter bottlenecks, just like we do at a four-way stop. And don't act like you own the place... lower your volume, give others their space, and share the best photo spots.

By: Ian Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 7, 2019
Left home at 3 am to be there by sunrise. Drank coffee before the hike and spent 5 hours trying not to crap myself. 4/5 stars would hike again

By: LittleFoot Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
You could say this hike is almost perfect, to me it is. I left home around 1:30 a.m. and arrived at the parking lot at 4:30 a.m. I was expecting the lot to be full or extremely packed but to my surprise, there wasn’t a soul there. You have to pay fifteen dollars to park here, which is a bit outrageous. I assume it’s due to the amount of foot travel on the trail which means a lot of trail maintenance and a lot of trash pick up, so please keep this trail as clean as you found it. You also have to walk 0.8 up Nethers Road, which will add 1.6 miles to your trek. Despite the parking fee and the walk up the road, the trail itself is totally worth it. You eventually find yourself at the trail head sign so heave a big sigh of relief and also take a deep breath because now the experience has really begun. You can either go left or right, the sign recommended going left so that’s the way I proceeded. It is still dark at this point so I can’t comment a whole lot on the first two or so miles up. I could make out some large and interesting rock formations however. I’m sure they’re amazing to look at during day, just one of the many reasons to go back. The first section of the hike is merely walking in the woods, it is not the easiest however. The trail starts off moderate but then it starts to gain a good amount of elevation. I was pouring sweat before I came to the first overlook. I did not get to enjoy the first few overlooks due to the darkness, however the stars were out so I did get to enjoy them somewhat. I told myself I’d return this way but I chose not to after the rock scramble. You will think you’re at the rock scramble before you get to the main scramble due to it being very rocky at this point. I can recall having to wedge myself through a rock formation. I finally reached the first great overlook around 6:30 a.m and it was still pretty dark. The sunrise wasn’t until around 7:00 a.m. so I decided to take break here. You’ll want to take a break due to what you just hiked and also due to the overlook. It is truly amazing, it’s the point where you know you’ve made it and there’s no turning back now. Admire the scenery here and get ready, the rock scramble is just ahead. I climbed over a massive rock at this point to get an even better view. The rock scramble begins with a wedge between two rocks. At first glance, it looks impossible. If you look harder there is actually a step in the rocks that makes getting through wedge pretty easy. After this it gets much harder, but the views get even better. You will have a view after almost every ‘hump’ on the mountain. The sun was rising at this point and I will say, seeing the sunrise here is an experience in itself. This rock scramble is not for beginners. I found myself on my hands and knees climbing some of these rocks so please use extra caution. I even had to stop for five minutes to contemplate how I was going to climb up one the rocks. I believe this is probably where it gets backed up on busy days. You will also go through a cave and have to crawl under rocks. I kept thinking I was at the summit after every ‘hump’ because it feels like it. I finally reached the true summit and what a relief it was. Even though the scramble is the hardest part of the hike, it’s also the most fun. The summit is as beautiful as the hike up to it, and there’s so much to explore. Be careful not to walk on the roped off areas up here, there’s fragile vegetation that grows at the summit and should be left alone. Enjoy your time here and take in what you’ve just accomplished by looking at the ‘humps’ of Old Rag Mountain. The trail is mainly downhill at this point with some flat areas as well. This is the easy part. I eventually came to the first of two shelters. This is great spot for lunch, the inside of the shelter is not very large however. There is also a massive set of rocks that are easy to climb and they offer another great view. I continued on to the next shelter and this one definitely has more room to relax. There is also another viewpoint but I cannot remember if it’s before or after the second shelter. You can also see Old Rag almost the entire way back. Getting to see what you just climbed is a great feeling, the mountain almost looks like a camel with many humps when you look at it this way. After this section, you will reach an intersection and there is also a sign with information about the community that lived at Old Rag. Take a right on to the fire road and just take it easy. Trust me, you will be worn out by this point. I didn’t see a single soul up until this point and I only saw two groups of hikers. The fire road is only about two and a half miles but it does feel like longer. My only complaint of the hike is the fire road so, if you feel like you can take on the scramble again, I would suggest returning after you reach the summit. Doing the scramble downhill is much harder I assume. The fire road does have a small surprise waterfall near the end though. It’s worth a picture or two. I finished the hike around 11 a.m which totaled me at six hours and fifteen minutes of hiking. I would recommend giving yourself more time though, at least eight to ten hours. Overall, this is a wonderful hike, but I believe a better word is experience. This is something everyone should do if they feel they are able. I hope to return time and time again!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 7, 2018
I've viewed many videos about Old Rag Mountain, and read even more blogs over the years. This hike has been on my list and at 60 years old I finally had an opportunity to hike Old Rag Mountain. I will tell you all the videos and blogs don't even come close to being there in person and conducting this amazing hike. I conducted this hike on Friday 07 Dec 2018, there was snow and ice on the trail from about 2-3 days ago which made it even more beautiful, and maybe even a little bit more difficult. The trail marker or blazes (blue/greenisj in color @ times are hard to spot, it's not hard to find yourself stopping and looking for the next marker, go slow and be careful. There were only about 5 other hikers that I saw during the day. The Rock scramble is challenging and adventurous when hiking solo (I highly recommend going with someone). The views from many locations on the trail are simply amazing, and from the the top of Old Rag Mountain are breath taking and worth every step. I parked at the Berry Hollow Fire Road parking site, and was the only car in the lot when I started my hike at 0930 and returned to my car around 4pm. I had the time of my life out there hiking, it was so peaceful and enjoyable. I can't wait to do it again soon!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 7, 2018
Old Rag is still an epic hike of roughly 9 miles in 4 sections: (1) a traditional Shenandoah hike up to just below the ridgeline, (2) the entrance to the ridgeline and its rock scrambles, (3) a traditional descent to the fire road, (4) the fire road. The entrance to the ridgeline has two somewhat tricky spots, which can back up if there are crowds: a keyhole, and a downclimb into a slot. Once on the ridgeline, you can take different routes across the boulders if you are adventurous. The 2.5 miles along the fire road can be a bit of a slog if your feet are tired.

The reason for my low rating is simply that Old Rag has become too popular. When I first started doing it many years ago, there were 5-10 cars in the parking lot. Now the parking lot has been moved to a field 3/4 of a mile down, and this past weekend, there were probably 500 cars when I started at 10 AM. If you expect to find some solitude and quiet, you will be disappointed. When the parking lot is full, there will be a lot of noise on the trail, many groups of people, and uneven trail etiquette: following too closely, faster groups passing then stopping before passing again, slower groups not yielding to faster groups, people stopping in the trail, big crowds at the overlooks and all along the ridgeline.

If these sorts of things do not bother you, you will have a great time. But if you would prefer to have a more serene experience, be aware that Old Rag can be very crowded on nice days on weekends and holidays.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 4, 2018
Great hike. I'd been walking some 5 miles a day preparing for the hike but that did not prepare me enough for Old Rag - be prepared, this is not just a walk in the woods. That said, I had senior citizens as well as middle school field trips and families with young (not small) children zoom past me with no difficulty. I took my time, stopping often and made the summit. I went on a Thursday and it still seemed crowded - I can't imagine what it is like on a weekend - I was told it gets VERY crowded - there are waiting lines to get through parts. Everyone was great and helpful - lending a hand when I was stuck and giving me water when I realized one of my water bottles had fallen out of my pack. There are a lot of false summits (you think you are at the end and then you realize you have a lot more to go) and the rock scramble starts, stops, starts again ...... There is a lot more to this. Suggestions - be prepared and bring LOTS and LOTS of water.

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 8, 2018
Great hike. We saw momma bear and her cub just off the trail on our way up.

Couple of things to think about:
1. This hike is described as a 4. I believe that to be an average. On the normal hiking trail, it's a 3. On the rock scramble its a 5.
2. Wear shoes that tend to have good traction.
3. Take your time on your way up before the rock scramble.
4. If a part of the rock scramble confuses you, watch someone else do it.
5. The views are fantastic, and depending on where you stop, varied.
6. The way down is very easy. One might call it boring, but I think it's a nice walk in the woods.
7. Lots of water- bring it
8. Bananas- especially if you're a heavy sweater.
9. Snacks- you need the energy. Trust me.

Have fun!

By: Deb Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 4, 2018
For older hikers thinking about this hike - I am a 59 year old woman, and after reading some of the reviews I was worried this hike would be too much for me. I walk about 20-25 miles per week, and would call myself strong. While it was definitely at challenge, I was able to do the entire hike without help (even the rock scramble!), and would recommend it to anyone in very good condition with a real desire to push themselves. I went with my husband, also 59, who climbed Old Rag 20 years ago. It was exhausting for both of us, but the views are amazing and we had a great time.

We parked in the lot at 8 am and there were just a few cars there. At the switchbacks there are plenty of places to stop to enjoy the view. We saw very few hikers until we were on the rock scramble, and there we took our time. Still not many hikers, as it was a Friday, and when we saw a group behind us we just let them pass so we could go slowly. The rocks were actually harder than I expected, and I had to figure out how I could get up some of the big ones. We had a leisurely lunch at the summit, and took the fire road down. We got back to our car about 4 pm.

Make sure you pack at least 64 ounces of water per person! We did, and had just enough for the whole hike. We were about the oldest ones there, and some of the younger hikers were not prepared, and even asked us if we had water to share. I gave some of mine away, but regretted it later because the fire road was long and the temp was over 90 degrees. Snacks are a must, and bring a small first aid kit for scrapes. There were a lot of biting bugs, maybe because the spring is so late this year, but we didn't have any bug repellent. If you go, bring some repellent. My husband is still scratching the bites.

We had a cooler in the car with ice, water and snacks waiting for us in the parking lot. That was really helpful. So go on the hike, know it will be tough, and enjoy the accomplishment.

By: Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2018
First solo hike here. I mixed it up with jogging when the trail allows for it. Great trail! Great views! The rock scramble is challenging at points, but well worth it. Very glad I decided to go on this one. Highly recommended.

Go early and beat the crowds!

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 24, 2018
Watch out for icy conditions. Icy on March 24, making the rock scramble very harrowing. I definitely recommend against doing the rock scramble until the icy melts. That said, I will come back to do it again when there's no ice -- beautiful hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 24, 2018
Old Rag was icy this last weekend and at least the Saddle Trail between the Byrds Nest Shelter and the CCC Stairs (half way down to Old Rag Shelter) will remain icy for awhile. Bring you micro traction equipment such as Khatoola Microspikes, Yak Trax, Stabilizers ect.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Wonderful hike!! Linked a video I made of clips of the hike.

By: Susanna Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 18, 2017
I did a solo hike of this yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it! I've previously hiked this on the weekends and it is usually far more crowded. I thought I might miss having a hiking buddy for the rock scramble but it wasn't too icy which was my main concern and even though the top was windy and chilly, it was stunning out! The weather had said partly cloudy but the view was fabulous. I saw very few people going up, a few on the summit and a few going down. The fire-road does drag but I listened to an audiobook going down and made excellent time. I would note that the parking lot adds .08 mile each day so you will definitely get a good work out. I can't recommend doing this hike on a week day enough if possible!

By: Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Superb solo hike. Plenty of punters up on the route because it was Veterans Day, however this meant Fee-free upon entry to the National Park and Car Park! Set off at 09:35 with temp about 28 degrees on a bright crisp morning. One thermal and fleece meant I️ had to get moving to warm up but after that I️ was the perfect temp the whole way around. Beautiful scenes through the woodland with needle ice everywhere. The scramble sections are brilliant and really get you thinking about body position. I️ would take gloves because the rock is really abrasive and cools your hands down really quickly also. Towards the top there is much scrambling to be explored off the trail which was awesome - watch out for the sudden deep crevices. Had lunch perched on the best seat in the house with phenomenal views. Trial down super quick and easy, just watch out for black ice. Got back to the car park in 3.5 hrs.

By: Taylor R. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 28, 2017
Old Rag was a great hike. It’s about as difficult as it’s described by people in other reviews it was pretty strenuous. It took a full 6 hours and we were moving pretty quick, but taking our time with the views. We moved quickly because of the crowds being behind us, clogging up the bottleneck areas we had just completed. Other than the pressure to move, the crowds didn’t get annoying. PLAN accordingly for the summit/peak area. This place is crowded but holds many overlooks and views. There is no phone signal. Have a meeting place and time for your group if you get separated, or you will end up like us. We searched for our friend whom was last seen walking close to the edge with a camera.... so we feared the worst. Long story short, he was sleeping in the truck when we got back to the lot. Don’t even bother doing the hike if you came at noon or later, you will not finish before dark. In fact, you’re lucky if you find parking around then. Wear shoes with grip, hiking boots or trail running shoes are perfect. Clothes will peel off as you hike upward and go back on at the windy peaks. Bring plenty of water of course, you’re an adult reading a review so I imagine you know how much water you’ll need. NOTE this hike is waaaaayyy more dangerous than I imagined. Take your time and do not follow someone because they look like they know what they’re doing or they’ve been here before. You can’t trust people to know your comfort level. There is little to no distinction between the best paths and the precarious ledges or dead ends, so don’t get carried away. OVERALL: have fun. Arrive early. Take your time. Eat and drink enough. Plan ahead with the group.

By: Brian Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 7, 2017
Finally got around to doing this hike for sunrise - I highly recommend it! We left the parking area at 2:30, reached the top at 5 and took a quick nap (we overestimated how long it would take, mostly because we only saw one other group instead of the usual bottlenecking at various points). We accidentally planned this on a full moon so at times we didn't even need flashlights. Sunrise was amazing, as expected. It was really great to walk back to the parking lot around 9:30 as it was filling up and a parade of people were getting started. Made it to chick fil a 15 minutes before they stop serving breakfast, got home and took a 2 hour nap, then "started" my Saturday like any other. Leaves were just starting to turn by the way.

By: Alina Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 17, 2017
I've done this hike 4 times now including by myself. It's definitely my favorite no matter the time of year because the views never get old. This last hike was a bit more of a disappointment, not because of the trail but because I brought a friend on a bad day. The peak was SO foggy and there was a swarm of bugs to the point where we couldn't do our lunch on the top of the mountain. Oh well. I'll just have to return in October.

Keep your eyes peeled for the blue blazes. The one that has caught me twice is the blue through the cave that spits you out on another side. The trail makes it seem that you're supposed to go straight but you'll descend quickly and realize you get to hike back up.

Also I keep forgetting to bring GLOVES! Not a must, but it would definitely make the scramble more comfortable.

By: GP Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 16, 2017
I have hiked Old Rag numerous times, and this latest trek did not disappoint. The trail was less crowded than usual, although I ran into slight congestion at the usual spots (rock scramble, overlooks, summit). The trees were just starting to turn, but it will likely be a few more weeks before you can really appreciate the fall foliage.

As a word of caution, there were several snakes on the trail including a large rattlesnake right at the beginning of the rock scramble. The biting flies on the summit were out in force, and I have a number of bite marks on my legs from the ~20 minutes or so that I stopped for lunch. There was also a wasp nest in a tree in the middle of the trail within the first mile or so, but I didn't encounter any thanks to a warning posted at the ranger station and on a tree about 10 yards before the nest. In the 10+ times I've hiked Old Rag, snakes and bugs have never been an issue, so hopefully this was a one off.

By: Michael Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 7, 2017
I just completed this for the first time today. Definitely pay close attention at all times to where a blue marker may be, lest you find yourself at a drop-off with no clue how to proceed (or perhaps even go back!). One of the hardest parts about this was not the length or the rock scramble, but the two together. I would highly recommend trying out Bearfence Mountain before taking on this "doozy". A few short trips up and down gave me the faith in my scrambling abilities I needed to take on Old Rag. To sum up, I am completely exhausted but feeling accomplished. The views are astounding, though I would not recommend this hike for views alone (given the more easily accessible points, i.e. the aforementioned Bearfence Mountain).

On a personal note- I have a slight phobia of bees/stinging insects. While I generally "deal" with this as I love hiking and climbing, Old Rag had a LOT of them (in respect to most trails I have hiked) with multiple people along the trail being stung. Be extra prepared first aid-wise on this trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 26, 2017
Note: If you're an experienced hiker, you have my deepest respect and I suggest you skip this review from a 61yo acrophobic recovering desk potato novice climber. This review is for anyone who thinks they can't tackle Old Rag.

Safety first, right? I made the hike with my husband of almost 40 years who is an experienced hiker and rock climber and would not have attempted it alone or without someone in whom I placed high trust. Like the illustration I'm seeing above this posting area, with one hiker giving a hand up to another, I needed help, lots of it, and gratefully took it from total strangers as well as my hiking partner. In hindsight, we probably could have done a better job of properly stretching but thankfully our worst 'injuries' were some truly minor scrapes and bruises. I am most definitely glad I made this hike, but knowing what I know now, I need to keep shedding pounds, building muscle and increasing endurance before tackling again, if ever. Read on for specifics of our two attempts on consecutive weekends, the first a partial on the clockwise route with the second a successful full counterclockwise loop.

On both trips, we left our favorite snacks and frozen water in the car which melted just as we hoped, providing lovely refreshment that helped buoy our spirits on the 1.5-hour drive home. I carried a 12-pound pack (Osprey Stratos 24) that I had to take off to navigate several areas. I carried the 10 essentials including a 3-liter Platypus hydration system and a set of hiking poles that I probably should have used more often.*

On Attempt 1, our test hike done 8/18, it was a beautiful day but very warm (high 80's) and humid. We got a late start (around Noon) on the clockwise path and stopped for lunch just past where the path becomes more rock than dirt. Don't think that's technically the start of the "rock scramble" but it was rocky enough to help us determine it was the right time to turn around in order to get down around dusk. Our total time, including frequent stops for photos of fauna on the uphill and wildlife (two bears, one high in a tree) on the downhill, was about 7 hours. We took a combined 4.5 liters of water and drank every drop. I treated myself with a massage several days after which helped alleviate considerable tightness in my shoulders and back.

On Attempt 2, another beautiful day with cooler weather (70's) and relatively lower humidity, we hit the trail about 8:30. An earlier start would have been even better as our total time was right at 10 hours, well over the 6 hours noted on this site. The counterclockwise loop proved a little tricky as most of the considerable crowd who made the trek that day were on their way down. No judgement here, just fact - most did not follow trail etiquette in general, especially the 'yield to uphill hikers' part, so stops given up for photo opps were cut to let groups of 2 to 12 pass. On the way down, we saw a considerable amount of bear scat on the trail and what appeared to be a young male crossed the trail between us and the group in front of us. We also saw two white-tailed deer in the distance. Again, we took 4.5 liters of water which was more than sufficient for the entire loop and lunch on the relatively cooler day.

This hike was most definitely a personal development opportunity. Remember the acrophobia? There were several spots that I didn't think I'd be able to navigate, like the area where you cross a boulder that slopes down to a sheer drop-off. There were other challenges where I needed to pull myself up an area with no natural foot or hand holds. Thank goodness for the kindness of several strangers, one who boosted while my partner pulled at a critical point and others who generally provided encouragement along the way. The only challenge unmet was on the top where the trail called for a jump over a deep crevice from a low boulder to one slightly higher. I might have been able to pull it off the other way but my knees, flooded with adrenaline, simply wouldn't cooperate. I opted to slide down on the opposite side of the boulder with my partner helping me safely land.

I came close to tears at some of those critical points but was really just too tired to expend that energy. My brain kept trying to talk me into giving up but I simply kept putting one foot in front of the other, navigating over and around the loose rock, roots, boulders, tight spots, etc. I ignored my angry knees and thighs and, on the way down, toes. (We concluded I either had the wrong shoes (low-cut Merrell's one day and heavy-duty Skechers the other) or the wrong size). I wore liners and some wonderful alpaca socks that kept away blisters but were probably too heavy for summer hiking as they made my feet really hot.

Again, no judgement, only observation. We picked up considerable trash both weekends and saw evidence of people relieving themselves at the side of the trail who didn't follow Leave No Trace. On a positive note, we saw two people who had done a considerable amount of cutting foliage. We expressed thanks but failed to ask if they were volunteers. It was crowded and lively at the summit and we were lucky to find a shady spot on a boulder with a spectacular view for lunch. Several large groups were listening to music and dancing, others scrambled to find a good spot for a 5+ people photo. Up and down the trail on both weekends, hikers listened to music, most at higher-than-average sound levels without headphones. On the switchbacks, we could hear conversations of people both above and below us.

Then there were moments of quiet as we walked in the companionable silence of a long-time couple. Along with the wildlife, we observed babbling brooks, moss boasting tiny umbrella-shaped growth on top, mushrooms in an array of colors from white to golden yellow to dark red and lichen of multiple colors including black. There were clusters of dainty white flowers and one especially beautiful patch of what must be a type of yellow sunflower without the large center.

Despite the fact that I was wrung out by Old Rag, it was a hike worth making. I expanded my faith in my own abilities while enjoying the spectacular Virginia landscape. Be safe and enjoy life!

*Why did I take so much gear? The purpose of this hike was to prepare for an upcoming adventure - bagging a Scottish Munro. After this hike and spending some time hiking in the Rockies, my confidence level is high.

By: Susanna Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 19, 2017
This is an absolutely phenomenal hike! I did it last weekend with a friend (we both have done it before) but it still was marvelous. The hike up is strenuous, mostly uphill until you hit the boulders but it is completely doable. I would not recommend doing it after rain (we were lucky and most was dried up but there was one very tricky section where I was very thankful to have the help of a stranger, with my shorter legs, I couldn't quite get the traction I needed) or when it is raining as it could be incredibly dangerous. The hike down is very mild, and honestly on the fire road, you do start to sort of get a bit bored (I hate staying that but it felt very long to me compared to going up). The hike after factoring in the fact you are hiking from the lower lot is closer to 11 miles (at least that is what my tracker read). Also of note: little to no cell phone service, there are portapotties in the parking lot and there is a compost toilet headed down the back side of the mountain but there won't be many spots on the trail to find privacy as it is a very busy hike. Get there early so you don't get caught up in people when crossing the boulders. Overall, one of my favorite challenging and beautiful hikes in the Shenandoah area!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 8, 2017
So this was my second favorite hike I've ever done! (Favorite being a glacial ice field hike in Alaska). There is something so incredibly satisfying about finishing this hike. You are literally climbing the entire mountain, not put up close to the summit.

Starting with time, I got there at 7am on a saturday and there were a few cars, but hiking was secluded. Before the scramble I came into contact with maybe 3-4 people. I only had to wait for a couple of the scramble "obstacles" but the group was nice enough to let me continue ahead of them since I was faster. Most of the "obstacles" were very doable and you could make your own routes sometimes which was fun. The hardest part actually included on the trail was the little crack between two boulders. It wasn't rainy and everything else was dry except for the one rock you need as footing. I'm only 5'3 and was hiking alone, so I knew I needed to find another way to get up. I think the safer way to do this is shimmy with your back to the wet rock and your feet on the adjacent boulder. I felt like I was in a movie haha, but it's much more doable with less likely of falling and getting hurt (which almost happened when I attempted the normal way to get up).

Just remember these parts are not easy, but, for the most part, determination will get you up. I'm not and incredibly fit or strong and very short female but was able to get up with just a little trouble. Later, on one of the "false summits" there is a crack in a rock and it looks like you have to climb up it, so I did. You don't have to!! Save yourself the adrenaline rush, I mean I'm proud I did that without any help, but it was intense.

The 360 views from the summit are unbeatable, make sure you get up on a boulder for that heightened experience.

The entire time scrambling I was within 400 feet of another person, but never felt crowded. Even the hike back down wasn't very crowded. I saw 3 deer very close up because they weren't very scared. When I got back to the lot it was extremely busy. Big take away: start early!! 7 is a good time because the sun is up so it's not dark and there are a few people to be comfortable but not even close to crowded. It's also nice and cool for the intense ascent. It was 90 on the way down, but only 70 going up. And no joke about the water, bring more than you think you need and freeze at least one bottle so it's cool enough on the descent.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 2, 2017
This is the second time I hiked Old Rag this year. Great hike, beautiful weather.

Saw a lot more trash than usual. If you carry water bottles, when they're empty, crush them and put them into your pack. Empties will bounce out of the side pocket. Someone left a gallon jug of water on the rock scramble, it may have been to difficult to hike with.

Also, keep in mind, there are no bathrooms other than at the port-a-lets in the parking lot or at Old Rag Shelter where there's privy with no toilet paper (bring your own). There was human waste on the trail on June 2nd. I'm sure it was human as there was toilet paper mixed with it and I'm pretty sure it wasn't left by the Charmin Bear. The best thing to do is bring a trowel, dig a hole, and bury your waste. There's no place to do this on the scramble so you'll have to do your business before or after.

After the .8 mile trek to the trail head with a modest elevation gain, it's an uphill hike to the rock scramble. If you are not in shape, take your time, take photos, stop for a snack. You gain about 1800' from the parking lot to the scramble. It's a bit like Mary's Rock in terms of steepness but Mary's Rock is only a 1200' gain.

The scramble can be challenging. I'm a 56 year old woman in good shape, I'm about 5'4". I hike a ton but find a few obstacles very challenging. I prefer to hike with a partner for assistance. I've occasionally relied on trail friends for help. There's a rather difficult spot where you have to pull yourself up 5-6 feet. On May 18th, the rocks were wet and I struggled to get traction. Thanks to Nick and Rick from Annapolis for the hand up. I can do this when it's dry. I also struggle to get across what I call "water bottle" crevice. (Not the one you climb down.) Although I can step across to the other side, I can't seem to shift my weight over the leg on the far side. There's no hand hold to pull yourself across. Most people seem to push off (and lose their water bottles) but I keep visualizing myself at the bottom of the crevice with a broken ankle. I'd appreciate any sincere suggestions. After that there's another large round boulder to climb up. It's a bit challenging because of its size and it's somewhat smooth, probably due to all the people climbing the same spot. If you can't get up it, walk around to the backside where the granite is still rough. Much easier.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 25, 2017
Last time I hiked this trail it was in the late 70's. Not much has changed except the trail is more maintained and they moved the parking lot back a mile or so (used to park at the trail head). The rock scramble is the same! Very nostalgic hike in the clouds and rain. This is a great gear and leg workout....very friendly ranger at the parking lot....

By: JAM Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 14, 2017
Always a fantastic hike! Probably my favorite in the region. Yesterday it was so clear I could see Arlington/DC in the distance, this was also very early in the morning. It is strenuous and the crowds can be insane on weekends. My tip is to try starting before sunrise to beat the crowds if you really want to do this hike on a weekend.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Amazing hike. Great for the huge amount of early wildflowers in bloom, the ascent which is a great workout and the rock scramble which is really incredible as well as strenuous enough to be a good workout. A group of nine of us tackled it today taking eight hours with a lot of wildflower identification stops and a couple snack breaks. Lunch on top provided spectacular views in many directions. All in all one of the best in the Park!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 13, 2017
As someone who isn't much of a hiker, this trail is difficult but very doable. I can't compare it to others but after doing it, I doubt there's many that can compete! I can't stop thinking about how fun it is. I started the hike around 3:15 am for the sunrise hike on Thursday morning and didn't see a single person! That's not common according to the reviews so I highly encourage it. Something about being all alone with nature is so tranquil yet terrifying. It's about a 10 minute walk from the main parking lot to the beginning of the Blue Ridge trail. You'll know you're there when you see an old parking lot. Now it is quite steep and rocky but I personally think it adds to the character and enjoyment. You will need to watch your footing as you'll 'almost' trip quite a lot. As for what to bring. I brought a camelback with about 70 ounces of water, pb sandwich and a few granola bars. Tried to keep it simple to simulate a true nature hike. Along the trail you'll encounter many false summits and think you're there but you're not. All of the views are amazing and fool you. Around mile 3 you'll encounter the rock scramble, my favorite part. You'll read many reviews about its difficulty and that will depend on time of year, weather, weight, strength and so on. Truth of the matter is, is if you're determined and very smart about the dangers, you should be fine. I couldn't see anything except what was in front of me and it just made it so awesome. It's challenging and you'll have to squeeze, crawl, drop and climb in many areas but it's more about technique than strength. Just be sure to stop and admire the beauty around you. Just follow the blue dashes which tell you the next way to go and you'll be fine. It took me about 2.5 to go up and about the same to go down which included an hour observing and climbing on all the scary and dangers rocks. Definitely take your phone, plenty of water, shoes with good grip and forget about all the worries and bask in the beauty of nature. Couldn't recommend this hike anymore and I'll be doing it again most likely for the sunset hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 6, 2017
My young adult boys and I hiked Old Rag today in tribute to my wife. This was my first hike of the year. We walked at a strong pace going up, took a few water breaks to the top. It's spring break for Virginia Colleges so we passed a few groups of a college kids on the way up. Its a solid hike and while it was in the low 40's, with a sweatshirt and sweatpants, we were sweating.

The Rock crawl is another workout in itself. You are climbing up rocks approximately another mile. Highly recommend good gripping soles, gripping gloves (you'll be using your hands) as you will have some upper body work.

The first time I went, we went down the other side, and down the fire road, approximately 5 miles total. This time, we went back the way we came through the rock crawl and going down the rock crawl was much easier. We did pass multiple groups going up and the parking lot was pretty full when we got back.

All in, with the pace and the breaks, we were able to complete in 4.5 hours. It's a great workout with fantastic views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 26, 2017
First, I'll get over with the bottom-line for my overview about the hike. I am 50-year old not remotely close to being fit but love photography and only did simple hikes before. This hike can be done by almost anyone with proper motivation and friends company. Just take long rests when tired and start EARLY, carry headlamps, good tight fit gloves for rock scrambling, and even a hiking pole and at least couple of bottles of water. I drank two small bottles in winter with rationing it wisely.

Three of us started the hike at 2:30 from the parking lot on a Sunday afternoon on a no moon day. About half way up I noticed the sun almost nearing the tip of Shenandoah mountains and soon the light is going to drop off fast and we almost stopped seeing anyone coming down by 5:00 pm. At this point as I wanted quit and turn back as I was worried it will be dark plus there are no more hikers to have company. But a friend insisted on keep going as going back down the other way is easier. The views started to get amazing as we got to rock scramble area and saw the first peak. I didn't celebrate on seeing the peak as we were already cautioned about 2 false peaks. So, kept going and around 5:45 came to the first false peak. Noticed the other peak and again panicked as we could hardly see sun. Since the only way to get down fast and easy in dark is to keep pushing up we finally reached the peak around 6:15 pm. Felt so happy to have completed the hike and the views from here were stunning at sunset. The entire Shenandoah mountain range looked like it had a large fire burning on the other side of the mountains. It's truly breathtaking and we sat took pictures and enjoyed the light fade away slowly. Took out our headlamps, had some snacks, and headed down around 6:45 pm. All long we kept looking up and enjoy the bright stars light up the sky. The sound of steams and feeling lonely in the mountains didn't feel scared at all..

Can't wait to go back and start the hike an hour or two early. If you have company enjoy the sunset and hike down in dark. Especially, in winter as you get great view of the sky. I enjoyed this hike way more than McAfee Knob hike.

Don't forget: Gloves for rock scramble.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 26, 2017
Recommendations for Old Rag first timers: bring Gloves, enough water, snack/peanut butter sandwich/power bar (s), a packable wind breaker....

If you are planning on hiking more frequently, buying hiking shoes/boots would be recommended. Depending on your speed, your hike which is between approximately 7miles for the short loop and 9 miles for the long loop might take a while, therefore plan to start it accordingly. Don't forget to have an empty bag on hand for your trash and leave no trace! Know your limits, as a suggestion: for the first couple of times, you can go half way up to the overlook, this will prepare your body to EASILY complete the full loop leaving you with pure hiking pleasure without any afterwards pain or body aches.


By: Justin V Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Knew crowds were going to be an issue, so we got on the trail by 7:30. Hike was beautiful - what seemed to be an overcast day turned into an amazing hike through the cloud line. Because started so early, we only encountered 3-4 people on the trail, and at no point were we forced to wait. Total time for hiking, including a 15 min lunch up top, was about 4 hours.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 26, 2016
One of my absolute favorite hikes. The rock scramble makes for a technically difficult but extremely fun hike. Watch out for large crowds, but otherwise enjoy the stunning views.

By: Dad with 6 and 8 yr old boys Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 8, 2016
What an awesome hike! My sons(6 and 8) and I parked in the lower lot around 9am. After paying to park, we left the lot at 9:15. We passed maybe three groups and and was passed by another father with two older sons. The boys were fueled by one rest for some water and Halloween candy before we reached the first overlook and the beginning of the scramble. There were roughly 25-40 people on the scramble when we arrived. I had read about the scramble and its difficulty. I really wasn't prepared for how hard it was going to be for me and my six year old. We wore awful slippery running shoes. Don't get me wrong it was a blast. I just couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if one of them slipped and busted a leg or a head! I would suggest kids be atleast 8 before going on the scramble. There were absolutely no lines during the scramble and we only passed 5 or 6 groups on the decent. We arrived back at the lower lot just before 2pm. Hiked it in 4:43 minutes. I was worried about getting back in the dark and took three head lamps!

By: SilverSprung Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 5, 2016
Hiked Old Rag today with my best friend, starting with the rock scramble and finishing down the fire road. The scramble was fun, but we both regretted not wearing gloves. We started hiking around 7:15 am and got back to the car by 1:15 pm. The mountain wasn't heaving early, but there were a lot more people going up as we were walking back to the parking area. The weather was perfect and the trees were beautiful. We met many friendly people and almost all were courteous, letting faster people pass, etc. We'd definitely do it again. Thanks to all who posted on here so that we could get great tips like getting there early and being prepared for the scramble. It was a great day trip from D.C.

By: Onwardandupward Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 5, 2016
This was my third time doing the circuit. It was also the busiest. The parking was about 3/4 full when we arrived at 07:45hrs. I knew to bring at least 2L of water and something to eat and snack on. I also brought trekking poles. They made the downhill and fire road much easier on the joints, as I was packing for two people. I used all four layers in the beginning, but shed to two by the time we hit the scramble. As the reviewer before me stated, gloves are good, preferably something durable and form fitting. Wait times were as long as 30 min in some areas. The view was crystal clear once the sun warmed things up. As a whole, the crowd was very respectful. It was nice seeing strangers helping one another!

By: Hammock Camper Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 28, 2016
My brother and I decided to be a little adventurous and hike up ridgeline to approximately 2700 ft for an overnight stay in hammocks. Total hike up took roughly 1 hour 30 minutes and about 45 minutes into the hike we saw a black bear. Luckily it was headed in the opposite direction. Overall it was a great trip. After setting up camp we put our headlamps on and went up the rock scramble a little ways to view the stars, which luckily for us, we got a great clear night. Other than dealing with the footsteps of a curious deer, the night was quiet. Wind was on top of the trees just enough to give us a little noise to help us sleep. With a tarp draped over our hammocks we stayed pretty warm and enjoyed a very nice sunrise in the AM to background music, provided by some guys ready for the moment, of the Lion King. Hike down took a little longer than expected. When they say it gets busy on the weekends they aren't joking. Tons of people headed up.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 23, 2016
A great work out rewarded by awesome views at the top. The downside is the crowds, even though we hit the trail around 8am there was absolutely no privacy. Once we started the final rock scramble it was painfully slow and some of  the hikers are not very mindful of others. E.g. there was some guy hiking with a 3-4 year old who had a melt down and he made no attempt to get the kid out of the way, about 15 people had to wait till the kid stopped crying and made its way up. Also people tend hike very close to each other which from my training is not a good idea especially when scrambling up rocks - I'm of the school where one waits till the person in front has cleared the section and then the next person starts.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2016
Think the leaves need an extra week to be perfect. Hike was great, but when we got there at 7:30, I'd venture 20-30 cars int the parking lot. It was a cold, cloudy very windy day, and this did not deter anyone.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 22, 2016
Tis the season for HUGE weekend crowds from mid-October until leaves are off the trees around mid-November Old Rag will be CRAZY busy on good weather weekends. PLAN, PREPARE, STAY SAFE, HAVE FUN. When I arrived last weekend I think there were more cars in the neighbors pasture than in the packed full official lot. (500 plus cars.) The neighbors' charge $10 to park on their private property. The park entrance fee is separate. If there is room in the NPS lot parking is free. During leaf peeper season wait times in the scramble on a good weather weekend day will mean 1-2 wait times and 200 plus person lines between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Last weekend lots of folks were dressed for 70 degree temps. There were 10-40 mph winds on the ridge/summit and temps got down in the low 40's F once the sun went down. Keep in mind that if you sustain a non-ambulatory injury in the scramble it may take several hours for responders to arrive at your location and 2-6 hours for you to be carried out. Without the correct clothing you could easily suffer very serious hypothermia waiting for first responders to arrive. Days are getting shorter and our clocks will fall back an hour Sunday Nov 6. Bring lights preferable headlamps in order to leave your hands free. If you do not have at least one member of your party pretty familiar with the twists and turns of the one mile rock scramble it is best not to try it in the dark even with lights. The scramble is not marked as well and looks different going down it then coming up it. From the summit going down the Saddle Trail and Fire Roads it is easy to navigate in the dark if you have lights. The summit often has beautiful sunsets this time of year but keep in mind that from the summit you are still two hours from your car. If you get in trouble follow Mr Rogers' advice, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” There are often volunteers, good Samaritans or Old Rag Mountain Stewards on the mountain on the busy weekends. DO NOT LEAVE THE TRAIL IF IN TROUBLE. The first thing searchers/rescuers will do is walk the trails to look for you. If you are on the trail you will be found in hours but if you are 150 feet or MORE off the trail it could take days to be found. Practice good group management, know and follow Leave No Trace wilderness ethics. Teach young children about the National Association For Search and Rescue's (NASAR's), Hug A Tree skills PLAN, PREPARE, STAY SAFE, HAVE FUN.

By: Clinton Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
It was a perfect day, weather was great and got a little warm as well towards lunch. The colors were great, maybe peak at the top of the mountain or just before. There were a few people out like always but was not crowded on the trails at all. I enjoy this hike every time. There was a 4' black snake, a young adult black bear and a deer on the trail so it was nice to see some wildlife as well. By far one of the best weather days I have had on that hike. I always recommend it.

By: Giker (Girl Hiker) Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 8, 2016
I picked the best day to hike (strategically) because it was raining (100% chance) and I knew the trail would be relatively deserted. I reached the parking lot at around 8:30 am and saw only 3 vehicles parked, mine being the 4th one. After paying the fees and chatting with the park ranger about the hike and directions, I started at exactly 8:50 am. I don't mind the rain at all, but I was extra careful knowing the rocks would be slippery. Climbing up, the views were amazing, but at I reached the summit, I couldn't see anything because of the clouds. But the exhaustion and the experience itself was fantastic :) Coming down was, of course, a piece of cake. I didn't stop for lunch but did pause at the different view points so my breaks would add up to a total of 15 minutes. I was back at the parking lot at exactly 1 pm, which means I completed the hike in about 4 hours.

This was my first time so I was going really slow on the rocks, trying to maneuver through them. Now that I've done it once, I feel more confident and will definitely do it again...on a sunny weekday. This trail accurately deserves the rating of a 5/5 both in terms of difficulty and views.

By: Hannah Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 4, 2016
Amazing! This was the first out of many hikes I plan to take throughout the Shenandoah area & it was a doozy. I researched some of it & asked my friends for some tips + pointers but it's something that you have to experience to truly understand. The views are outstanding. Scrambling was tough but so much fun. TIP: Bring PLENTY of water. I drank 2 full bottles throughout the entire 9.1 miles & was dying for another one at the very end. It may seem annoying to bring so much water, but your body will thank you in the end for it!

By: Robert Look Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 14, 2016
The no camping sign on the Saddle Trail side of the mountain has been relocated from being near Byrds Nest Shelter to a spot a tenth mile lower on the Saddle Trail. This highlights the fact that the area around Byrds Nest Shelter is above 2,800 feet. The latest version of PATC's Map 10 has a line drawn on the map indicating the 2,800 contour line. There is no camping above 2,800 feet on Old Rag in hopes of protecting/preserving Old Rag's wild nature, island in the sky, micro habitat/ecosytem, for today's and future generations. Please check the NPS SNP web-site to find lots a good information to plan and prepare for your trip.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 18, 2016
Heed the warnings!!! Water - We (my 18-year-old grandson and I) took 2 quarts each and ran out on the way up, him before me. But, we did not know how far we still had to go to get to the top. Take at least 3 quarts each in the summer. We ran into people who had been there before and they said they knew 2 quarts was not enough. Signage - Signs along the way up were non-existent. Nothing to tell us how far we had gone, how far to the top, that this was the beginning of the rock scramble - nothing! Not the first sign until we were at the top, which was all of the way after the scramble. It looks like you are getting to the top and maybe it wasn't so bad and then you get to the rock scramble. Nothing to tell you that this part may take longer to get through than you have spent already. Blue blazes are pretty good and I appreciate the effort taken to keep them visible. Rock Scramble - Don't take the word scramble lightly. Be ready to claw and hoist yourself up, down, under, and through some huge rocks! I spent minutes at some locations trying to figure out how to continue. OK, I'm 66 years old and maybe shouldn't have gone, but I have never seen anything like this in this park before. I didn't know better. Warnings on the National Park site were not specific enough to clue me in about the conditions. They need to say that the difficulty is not related to a steep trail it is related to hauling yourself up and down sometimes smooth rocks. It is not technical rock climbing, but you better be able to lift yourself up and let yourself down with minimal help from footholds or handholds. I had to turn around and inch myself up a rock on my butt more than once. Would I do it again? At my age, not likely. If I was more spry and weighed less, maybe. If I was 20-30 years younger, heck yeah! But, this was the hardest "hike" I have ever taken. HEED THE WARNINGS!!!

By: sde Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 24, 2016
Getting there early wasn't an option for us, and we were worried the parking lot would be full and the mountain would be crowded. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive at noon on a Friday and see the lot only half full. A couple other groups started at the same time as we did, but we managed to get away from everyone within the first mile or so of hiking. We were able to spend most of the day out of earshot of other hikers, which was perfect...I was nervous about it being very crowded since we had read that was a possibility. The hike itself was perfect. The rock scrambles were buckets of fun and the views were breathtaking. I think the park map says something like 7.2 miles for the loop, but we ended the day at just over 14 miles according to my iphone. Not sure how that happened, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2016
One of my all time favorite day hikes. The rock scrambles are SO FUN! I brought climbing shoes for the top of the mountain and was definitely glad I did. NOTE: PRINT DIRECTIONS TO AND FROM THE PARKING LOT. NO SIGNAL!

By: Mary B. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 11, 2016

What a blast of a hike  !!!!    I had no idea what I was in for.. I had researched some of it but really didn't realize the magnitude of the hike....

You have to do this with plenty of WATER AND FOOD... it's a must.. and make sure you have shoes that have good traction.   If you don't have the proper food, water and shoes it could be extremely dangerous.    I am not a big water drinker and drank 1.5liters and my husband drank 2 liters.     we ate several times on the route and it made it comfortable for us.      We hiked it on a 90 degree day and Im certain without the water I would have been sick.    Beward of wild life- my husband saw a snake (Thank God I didn't as Im petrified of them) and some of the others in our group saw a bear.    It was a blast....  not for the weak.. the rock scrambles were very difficult in spots.       Make sure you are fully prepared before you hit the path....     we also wore gloves which helped with the rock scrambles.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 4, 2016
This is a must do if you're in Virginia. Hiked the loop over night with a troop of Boy Scouts. We parked at the lot off Nethers road on Friday and walked up to the old parking lot (~1 mile). Below the old parking lot there is a small water fall and a couple places to pitch tents. We had 4 guys in hammocks who all found good spots and 3 tents who also found spots. The next morning did the loop with our 30 lb packs on. Wouldn't recommend taking backpacking packs for the average hiker. We did this to train for our 50 mile trip and needed some experience on tough terrain with the packs. There were ~5 places along the ridge trail where we needed to take off our packs and pass them ahead in order to continue. Tough but not impossible. We continued down the saddle trail and around the loop which was very easy going. All clearly marked, easy to follow. A couple of reminders. Weekends are very crowded, get started early (by 7:30 it's getting crowded). If there is a chance for rain do not attempt as the rock scrambles get much more difficult and dangerous when wet. All that being said, one of the other leaders in our group took his 7 year old son who, with a little help, had no problems making it to the top. Also, if you're thinking of making it an overnighter, which isn't at all necessary, aside from the campsite below the old parking lot i didn't see many obviously opportunities to pitch a tent further up the mountain. Happy trails.

By: MattM Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 27, 2016
Overall a great hike! My wife and I, along with our 8 & 11 year old children, arrived at the parking lot at 7am. There were only 5-6 cars there when we arrived which was a welcome sight. After paying the $20 park fee and grabbing our gear, we were off. The parking lot is 8/10 mile from the official trailhead with probably 200-300 feet of elevation gain over that distance. The next 2-1/4 miles through the forest was nice, with multiple switchbacks to temper the elevation gain up the mountain. The final 1.0 mile to the summit was the best part of the hike. The rock scramble section has a little bit of everything - squeezing between boulders, lowering yourself down an 8ft crack, walking through a cave-like split between the rocks, and several short 'slab' climbs. You will definitely be using your hands a great deal throughout the scramble section. There are a couple of false summits with outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with 360° views. The first 1.0-1.5 miles down the mountain are fairly steep, then the trail levels out a bit once you reach the old fire roads for the hike back to the parking lot. The hike took us exactly 7 hours with multiple stops for breaks in addition to lunch and exploring at the top. I would definitely recommend plenty of water, snacks, and good footwear. Total Distance: 9.3 miles Total Ascent: 2493 ft

By: B.H.W. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2016
We absolutely Loved this hike! The rock scramble was great! Bring leather gloves if you have them, along with plenty of water. This is a trail where you should heed all warnings! dont do this trail in ice/rain, the rock scramble would be incredibly dangerous. Also this is really not a trail for young kids or hiking kid packs. With the fissures in rocks and tight spaces it could be very dangerous for young kids, toddlers and infants. This is the absolute best hike We've ever done. Definitely go with 1 or more people. You will know your at the summit when you reach the sign post indicating so. There are many false summits. Follow the blue blazes! Enjoy! (We saw a rattle snake and a black bear, Go early in the morning, and be alert!)

By: Dianne T Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 8, 2016
Hiked this trail many times in my early 30's and loved it. I am turning 50 this year and am an out of shape desk jockey but always wanted to hike this with my son on Mother's Day. He is 14 and had no soccer game this year so this was my chance! It took us 7 hours to do the whole hike but we made it. He had no trouble at all but I kept getting Charley horses after starting the scramble. My calves had enough after the ascent and whenever my foot was in an awkward position, which happens often when wedging a limb into a crevice, one of my legs would cramp up. Anyway after a few scary moments when those would hit I would get stretched back out and able to move on. He had to give me a hand a few times to get the extra inches I needed to get up and over some boulders. I would not do this again unless I get into better shape but I am really glad I did it and we had a great time together. It will be a day we won't forget and that was what I wanted. Go! But if you are not in great shape you can do it but just take your time, don't go if it's going to be over 70 degrees and bring enough water!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 26, 2016
This was a most challenging hike. To be completely fair, this was a great hike but the "rock scramble" goes on for about a mile and on a scale of 1-10, I give it a 10 for difficulty. I would not recommend climbing down that way due to difficulty. Now my wife and I are 65 and 66 yoa respectfully so this could have had a bearing on the difficulty. However, if you are not in good physical condition, I would suggest hiking to the peak counterclockwise to avoid these rocks. And I would definitely avoid them in rainy weather as even dry they were slick. Other than that, the views were spectacular in all directions! It was a good, long 7+ hour day which included a lunch break. Also, from the parking area, you walk along the road for 8/10's of a mile before you get to the trailhead. Be prepared if its your first time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 16, 2016
My husband and I arrived to the parking lot around 9:45am, it was completely full and had to pay $10 to park. We didn't pay a fee due to it being National Park week :)

We started the hike at 10am and finished by 6:30pm. We did take several breaks, for me to catch my breath lol, and to eat. We breaked twice to eat a sandwich.

There was a line at the start of the rock scramble but you'll see that as you continue on, some people don't go all the way, therefore leaving you with some peace for a about 10 mins or so.

The rock scramble was pretty intense, but when you get to Old Rag summit and look at the point where the scramble started...well it's an indescribable feeling. Lots of people go back down the way they came up but my husband and I did the loop, down Saddle trail and then to Weakley Hollow Fire road. I will say this, going back down this way is easier but its long, and it felt like the trail was never going to end lol, I was so worn out from the rock scramble.

To avoid the rock scramble, you can go up through Weakley Hollow Fire road, Saddle Trail up to Old Rag Summit and then back down

Recommendations: Take gloves (our hands were sooo sore) because your hands will take some beating, make sure to wear shoes with lots of traction, do not carry a big bookbag (it'll be hard to get in between cracks), and always have a positive attitude!

I am not in the best of shape, my husband is, but I managed through :)

Overall, this is my favorite hike I've done!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 15, 2016
We started our hike around 11:00 am and finished in 5.5 hours, we didn't have to wait too much on the rock scrambles so I think that helped us stay on pace. The trails are very easy to follow and well marked. The trails were also quite well walked and pretty free of trash and debris, which is surprising for such a popular hike. the solitude rating of zero is accurate. We hiked on a Friday morning and only had brief moments of solitude, and mostly could see and hear other groups the entire hike. The view is beautiful, worth the low rating of solitude because the peak has plenty of room to stretch out, sit and have a snack. The rock scramble is fun, and challenging but not too much. The first scramble down into the crevice was probably the most challenging part. I was glad I didn't hike this alone, I was fortunate enough to have help on the harder parts. If you don't want to scramble you can go up the fireroad. The scramble is just a fun way to get through the mountains. I would like to try this hike again, maybe another weekday morning or off time, because being around other people the whole time was frustrating because I enjoy some quiet and solitude while hiking. We did see four deer drinking water out of the creek along the fireroad in brief moment of silence, but I assume the teenagers who were shouting back and forth to each other probably missed that sight.

By: CStepp80 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 26, 2016
We arrived at the Old Rag parking lot at around 6:40am- the lot only had about 10 total cars in it at that point. We paid our fee and began the hike.

All in all, this was the most fun I've had on the hike, and the views from the top are absolutely incredible. We we fortunate to have no wind, and low humidity, so you could see for miles and miles.

A few things that I would recommend: 1) Do not bring a large pack with you - I hiked with an Osprey Kestrel 28, and it was about the max that I would recommend. You'll have a tough time maneuvering through the rock scramble in certain areas with packs larger than that. If you bring a large pack, brink rope to pull and lower your pack in certain spots. 2) Bring plenty of water. - I hiked with about 3L, which was about 1L too much. On hot days, however, I could see going through 3L pretty quickly. 3) The hike is a little longer than advertised on this site. According to my GPS, we hiked a total of 11.07 miles, from the parking lot, up the Old Rag Trail, and down the fire road. We did venture out to a rock or two beyond the bird's nest scramble, but it was a minimal distance (0.1 mi) from the trail.


By: Will Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 12, 2016
Parking lot was full when I arrived at noon, so had to pay an extra $10 for a spot on the adjacent private lot (this hustle is run by an elderly couple, and considering the constant stream of hikers interrupting their rural peace and quiet, you can only get so mad).

Started just after noon and finished the circuit by 4pm, keeping a fairly quick pace throughout. The rock scrambling is a lot of fun, and relatively challenging. Hiking shoes are definitely recommended. It's worth noting that while the rock scrambling requires some athleticism, and the beautiful panoramic views along the peak stretch will probably make those afraid of heights a bit uneasy, none of the scrambling feels dangerous, as in the trail doesn't have any narrow ledges with big drops below, places where you might worry about falling off a cliff if you slipped, etc.

For one of the first Saturdays of spring the crowd wasn't quite as bad as I had feared, although the trail did get backed up along the stretch near the peak with the more difficult scrambling bottlenecks. The yellow part is just several miles of slightly downhill fire road, so turning back at some point along the blue part is probably a better option, especially for those starting early and looking for a fuller day or out at an off time when the rock scrambling stretch won't get congested. A great hike overall!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Really excellent hike today on Old Rag. This was our first time out -- we found the parking lot easily based on the directions here and through a general google maps search. We arrived around 9am and the parking lot was already about half full. There were no rangers in site but we paid for parking using the paper credit card forms provided. (There were also porta-pottys as a FYI.)

We ended up trailing several other groups up to the trail head, and then through the first few switchbacks, but then everyone dispersed.

This was an awesome hike - maybe one of the most fun I've ever been on - but I will say it was TOUGH. We are in good shape, work out, hike regularly, etc., but it wore us out! (We were wearing larger packs though in prep for an upcoming longer hike.) It took us about 5.5 hours or so, matching the Hiking Upward estimate.

Here's the thing -- the first two hours are basically all uphill and then through a rock scramble. The rock scramble was very fun but had a couple trickier places. I recommend taking some small gloves for your hands - I didn't have any - and my palms were very sore. There were a few places that did made me a little nervous. With that said, people of all ages were going by those same places no problem without a second glance, and I did make it through them, but they did give me pause. Also make sure you wear very good hiking shoes - you need ones with a lot of traction to make sure you don't slip through the scramble.

As long as you're generally fit and remember to bring enough water and food, I definitely recommend it. The views from the top are incredible. Plus, once you make it past most of the rock scramble, you're walking around on top of a mountain, and it's pretty epic.

By: GG Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 20, 2016
Hit the trail about 7:30 am. Once you get about 20 min up the trail it became very icy. I didn't bring any microspikes and my trekking poles had rubber tips (anticipating rock, not ice) so I turned around after about an hour.

By: Jme Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 6, 2016
My first time, and it was Amazing! I thought being a week day and the fact that it was pretty cold, only a high of 29, that I would be able to avoid the huge crowds everyone mentioned in ALL the other reviews, and I did! I got to the old rag parking lot a little before 730am, there were already 3 cars there, but I got plenty of solitude. And the small amount of people at the summit were pretty spread out, so I was able to enjoy a peaceful quit view. By the time I finished, the parking lot was almost completely full. I can't imagine if I had started later or worse if I went on a nice weekend day. The rock scramble was awesome, next time I'll probably take a smaller pack, bc I did have a little bit of a tough time maneuvering some of the rocks. I definitely plan on doing this again, maybe even a night hike, so I can watch the sunrise from the summit?!? Although there were a lot of loose rocks going up, so I may need to invest in some trekking poles to get better footing if I do that.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 28, 2015
I love this mountain! However, please be careful... I got to the summit about an hour after dark, and had a stand-off with a black bear. He was blocking the path to the peak of the summit. I was with my brother and a friend, and we were talking and laughing,etc... all the things that usually ward off bears, but I guess this guy was curious. I had a head lamp, turned a corner, and practically ran right into him (I think it was a male). Luckily, I (more or less) know what to do when I see a bear, but this bear was only about 10 feet away from me... I could hear him breathing!! I stood there for about 4 minutes talking loudly and shaking the shrubs as did my companions, but they were behind me. I don't think he could see us well behind the bright lights from our head lamps, and he eventually backed off. So if you are hiking during off hours when bears are more likely to be present, be aware of your surroundings and maybe leave the beef jerky at home :)

By: Brian Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 14, 2015
Awesome hike...beautiful view

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 1, 2015
This was my second time doing Old Rag in a week. I'm training for a few climbs coming up (mt. washington and mt rainier) and have been trying to get as much up and down as possible, usually by myself. This wasn't a great day for this hike. It rained from about 4am-8am. I arrived at the parking lot at 6 am, and got on the trail pretty quickly. By the first rock scramble it had stopped raining, but it took me significantly longer to get through to the summit than it did last week (about 45 min longer) due to the slick rocks. I am not an expert boulderer, so a few parts were much more difficult than they should have been had it been dry. I would recommend that others not do this hike by themselves, especially when wet. I had the summit to myself for about 15 min, and headed down. Great day, despite the rain and clouds

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 25, 2015
Since moving back to Virginia a few years ago, I've probably done this hike at least a couple times a year. Based on the advice on this site and in order to avoid crowds, I have always started climbing Old Rag early in the morning and today was no exception. When I started just a bit after 7 am, there were maybe 20 cars in the parking lot and I passed only a couple dozen people on the 2-hour hike to the top. I actually had the summit all to myself for about 10 minutes when I first got there - not too bad for a trail that gets a solitude rating of zero. The fall colors were awesome, with many shades of yellow, red, and orange sprinkled across the mountains and valleys. The clouds were pretty intense - thick and layered - and I don't think I ever saw the sun or blue sky while I was on the trail. The rock scramble was tough in spots due to the light overnight rain that made the rocks quite slick. After coming down off Old Rag, I hiked up the Old Rag Fire Road and then down the Corbin Hollow trail to add a few more miles (and more solitude) to a great day in the mountains.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 24, 2015
We, a group of ten folks, went today to enjoy the fall colors. We started in Chantilly and reached the parking lot at 7.40am. It was an uneventful 90-minute drive. The parking lot already had around 50 cars. The ranger station was open.

We started the hike around 8, and were at the summit by 11, and back in the parking lot at 1pm. The weather was cool and there was a mild breeze. The sky was overcast but opened up when we were on the summit. The temperature averaged around 60F during the hike.

The hike itself was pretty awesome. We were expecting it to be difficult (9 of us were doing it for the first time), but we found it only somewhat strenuous and a lot of fun. Folks loved the scrambling and the views were fantastic. The fall colors were in full view and it was breathtaking to see the valleys all around us.

There were some minor delays at some of the scrambles but none more than a minute or two. I guess we avoided the big crowds since we started early.

When we were back in the lot, the official parking lot as well as the paid parking lot next to it were all full. Probably 400-500 cars in total.

We had a post-hike beer and lunch at the Headmaster's pub in Sperryville. A nice country-club kind-of place with a limited menu. We sampled the Loose Cannon IPA and loved it! The pulled pork sandwich was great too!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
1st time on Old Rag.  Tried running the whole trail from the lower parking lot.  I say "tried" because there are a few places on this trail that you really have to climb, squeeze, jump, (wait on others ahead of you), pull, and of course, stop to take in the view.  Next time, I'd bring more water than just two 10oz bottles on my belt.  For those using google maps, search: Old Rag Mountain Parking Lot and Trail Head, Nethers Road, Etlan, VA.  I also used MapMyRun app on the entire trail.  While mobile coverage is pretty bad, the gps on the phone worked well (iPhone) (even in airplane mode).  The total time is fairly accurate - and maybe even the times you stop on the trail.  However, I wouldn't trust the speed/mile accuracy on it.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Three of us hiked the Old Rag mountain this morning, myself a 53 year old avid hiker, my 16 yr old son who hikes with me frequently and my Wife who is 52 and less of a hiker but in good shape. We decided to do the sunrise hike, and and with much advice from this page we left the main car park at 3.45 am with head lamps, gloves, 2L water each and food. Hiking in the dark was very cool but slightly nerve wracking when you are not familiar with bear and snake habits at night!! We are not from around here! The moon was 3 days after full moon so we had good light but the headlamps were essential, especially when we came across a small rattler just before the rock jumble! The switchbacks was a fairly easy ascent, given that we had 2 hours sleep that night! The rock climb was great fun but fairly slippery. Much to my surprise everyone found the gloves to be a big help! The rocks are much smoother with the frequent use than I remember 25 years ago! I think if it was raining it would be VERY tough. Our night was perfect with no clouds and we arrived at OUR summit 5 minutes from sunrise at 6.48 am. I say "our" summit because when we reached the top we realized we were not at the true summit, which was another 10 minutes on, but that backtracking up to the big rock would give us a better view of the valley for sunrise. We had an outstanding view of the entire valley and had the whole summit ridge to ourselves. It was perfect, we spent almost two hours up there and then made a quick run to the real summit. I would say that the rock scramble was really fun, a little tough with backpacks at points and anything that stops you using 2 hands is inadvisable. However it was easy for all of us to ascend with our own power but helpful sometimes to get a boost or a pull! Doing it in the dark can be slightly confusing but as we were a little jumpy about any more snakes we just took our time and followed the blue marks. We ate breakfast on the summit rock and carefully packaged our garbage up and headed don the same way. We decided to go back the rock scramble as it was fun and on the way up we had been in darkness. We had seen some wonderful views with the slightly reddening sky leading to sunrise but we wanted to see the rocks in daylight. My strongest memory of this hike from 25 years ago was the LONG endless hike down the other side on the fire road that looked all the same and never ended. I think they way we did was perfect for us because the way back down was like a completely different hike in the day light! We ascended in 3 hours and descended in 2 hours. On a tuesday in Sept we were surprised to meet a total of 18 couples and one family of 4 on the way up, it IS a popular hike but we got through the rock scramble before we met anyone so there were no waits like I had read of here. Considering that we had 7 litres of water between us we actually had finished all of it just as we arrived back to the car! My wife says we drink a lot but I would have suffered with any less, and we hiked in the cool of night and early morning! Heed the warnings on this page take lots of water especially if you are starting out at 11am like we saw people doing. One couple passed us on the way up and my son pointed out they hardly had any water. We had one sandwich each and tons of granola bars but it was too much food for such a quick hike. We were home by 12 am and had the whole day in front of us. I have hiked all over the world and I and my family throughly enjoyed this hike. Do this hike! Leave early, take gloves, take lots of water and a dry shirt to change into on the summit as even in Sept we found it chilly at 7am in the breeze.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 2, 2015
This is one of my favorite hikes in SNP. I have completed it about 14 times and am getting ready to go and do it again. The hike is a little less than 9 miles if you do the circuit. If you go up and down the rock-scramble side it is about 8 miles. The scenery is beautiful and the hike can be a little strenuous if you are not in decent shape. You can do it, just take it slowly. Bring lots of water and some snacks to help keep your energy up. I recommend doing the midnight hike.. Start at the trailhead around 2:30 or 3:00am (wearing a headlamp or having a flashlight) and hike up and watch the sunrise. It is a cool experience.

Get there early to avoid the crowds especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. There are several places in the rock-scramble that only allows one person to go at a time, so when there are crowds you can end up waiting for others to complete the obstacle.


By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
Started at 9:30am on a Saturday, weather was overcast with forecast of afternoon thunderstorms. At 9:30am the parking lot was about half full and filling fast. I'm 59, did the hike with my 29 yr old son. The hike took us 5 hours 15 minutes, parking lot to parking lot. I wore a fitbit, not real sure how accurate the numbers are but from my experience they are usually surprisingly accurate. My fitbit numbers were: 24495 steps, 11.18 miles, 2762 calories, 152 "floors" which equates to 1520 feet altitude climb (from what I've read the altitude rise I measured is a bit suspect, I would expect 2200-2500, but who knows). I'm in pretty good shape, my son is in extraordinary shape. For me, the miles, elevation rise, trail surface were all no problem at all. The rock scramble was for the most part challenging but very doable, however much to my surprise (and dismay) there were two spots on the rock scramble I had to get help from my son. For my son, the rock scramble was fun, he bounded up like a mountain goat. He did the hike talking the whole way and I'm pretty sure he could have done the hike a second time had he wanted. Based on my experience I recommend a minimum of 4 bottles (2 liters) of water, 5 is probably better, and a minimum of 4-5 energy bars (1000-1500 calories). This is a great hike, good mix of trail hiking and rock scramble, almost entirely in the shade. It does get a bit crowded, mostly people in their 20's and 30's, we were almost always within hearing of large groups, everyone was very friendly and very polite, though at times it sounded like there was a kindergarten class behind us :). The views and scenery live up to the hype, you won't be disappointed.

By: Hiker Dave Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Been wanting to do this hike for awhile. Was supposed to be a nice weekend but rain enter the forecast late in the week. We decided to go ahead and do the hike. Started around sunrise. Only a few other cars in the parking lot. A light rain started as we started up the trail. This soon turned into a heavy rain the didn't stop until we reached the summit. Great hike and we only saw a few people during the hike. Rain and our early started help there. At the end of the hike on the road back to the parking lot we encountered alot of hikers starting out and the parking lot was nearly filled. Going to have to come back when the views are not covered with clouds.

By: Steve Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Arrived at a surprisingly crowded lower parking lot by 8:30 a.m. Never having hiked Old Rag on a weekend, this was culture shock! Rain ended just as a friend and I left the lower lot at 8:45 a.m. Mostly cloudy and very humid conditions - steady pace all the way to the beginning of the boulder scramble - soaked in sweat long before this point! Started to see some patches of blue sky, which eventually gave way to a bit of sun through the clouds. Stopped for lunch and a dry out before hitting the more difficult part of the rocks. Lots and lots of hikers - had to stop several times waiting for lines of hikers to make their way through the boulders. Finally stood on the summit shortly after noon, and lingered long enough to enjoy the mist-shrouded views of the surrounding valley and mountains. More than 18 years had passed since I last stood there - nice to know I can still do it at 57 years young! This was my friend's first time up Old Rag, but he is an Iron Man and up to the challenge!

One of the reasons I hike is for the solitude. That said, I will never again hike Old Rag on the weekend. I don't mind sharing the mountain with a few like-minded solitude seekers, but those days are long gone now that the word is out. This is a phenomenal hike and a very special place. Enjoy!

By: Lynn Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I think I liked the false-summit better than the actual summit.  Awesome view!  I'm a 54 year old woman in moderately good shape. I hike often.  Last month I hiked White Oak Canyon from Rt 600 in Madison County up to Skyline drive and back (approx 10.4 mi).  Today was my first time hiking Old Rag. Started Tuesday at 7:30 am.  Saw a handful of hikers all day.

The only reason I give this a 4 is that I could not have hiked this without a little assistance. I'm not very tall and needed a hand twice.  I read all the reviews and knew this in advance. I was prepared to ask for assistance.  Two men kindly assisted with 1.) a climb that required wedging your feet up both sides of a narrow gap and pulling yourself up over the top and 2.) between the false summit and actual summit, you must climb up one rock and cross a ravine to a higher rock.  I just couldn't get the momentum necessary to know I could get up without falling. Thanks to the two young men for their assistance.  I don't feel my fellow hikers minded lending a hand. If you only hike what's comfortable, you'll never stretch yourself. 

Otherwise, great hike. We brought tons of food and 2L water.  Plenty for a warm day (84).

By: Proud Father Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 21, 2015
I hiked this with my daughter on Father's Day. Even though it was 90 plus degrees, I would not trade it for the quality time we had on this amazing trail. The rock scramble was fantastic but needs to be respected. We took our time and enjoyed the scenes without twisting an ankle or worse. We really wanted to see the beauty that nature has to offer. On the way down we were rewarded with a bear sighting. This may turn into a yearly trip.

By: DeafHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
This was a great hike, but not going to become one of my favorites. To become a favorite, I would want to frequent it often in a year's time. While it was very enjoyable, this is not a place that I would frequently visit because of the time involved. My buddy and I went up and back in about 5 hours including lunch, after a 1 1/2 hour drive. If we lived closer, maybe.

Loved the views - outstanding! I expected a lot of people due to the 0 ranking it got, but we probably saw a total of 10 people. It was about 90 degrees, just a tiny bit humid. Maybe that's why, or people were at work (as we went on a Tuesday), or people were on their summer vacations. Who knows?

Overall, it was a good experience, but definitely not for the casual hiker. This IS a strenuous hike. Bring plenty of water and some snacks (or a small lunch if you plan to eat up top). This hike I would probably do once every year or two years.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 11, 2015
All the reviews here seem to point to the same things, great views, reasonable length and overcrowding. Simply put, if you want to most enjoyment try to sneak away to Old Rag on a weekday. You still may not find solitude, but you will be able to tackle most of the boulder field on your own and in peace. That being said, you should choose carefully who you take with you on this hike. The NPS rates this as a strenuous hike, and it will challenge all who tackle it. It's incredibly fun to pull, slide and slither your way around all of the obstacles, but there are a few points along the way were upper body strength and the ability to manipulate one's body comes in handy. You don't need to be superman by any means, but if you're going to do this hike alone, you may need to be able to pull your self up and over many obstacles. If you want a more direct route or to avoid the boulder field, then take the advice on this site and go around counter clockwise. You'll miss some of the fun, but you'll still get the same spectacular views at the top. Just be aware that the fire road and trail backwards can be a little boring until nearing the top. Overall, this may be the most iconic hike in Virginia, with beautiful views and easy access it belongs on the at least once list for any hiker.

By: Banjorunner Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
It was a rainy foggy day which made for a hike with some mystique. You could see the fog swirling around the summit in the breeze. There were very few people on the trail which made this trip on old rag special. Here's to days no one else wants to hike! I tip my hat bad weather.

By: The Youngblood Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 25, 2015
We got to the parking lot by 0830 on Memorial Day and still got a parking spot in the 1st row. My wife and I and 2 young sons (12 and 9) were on our way a few minutes later on our 2nd time to this park. The last time we drove here there were too many people at the lower summit to advance to the peak so we were determined to knock this out on this trip. We got up the mountain in about 2 hrs to the lower peak and it took about 40 minutes to get through the scrambles and up to the upper peak for us. It was a spectacular weather day and the views were impressive. We had lunch at the summit and then took a little more than an hour to come back down. This is one of the best hikes in the greater Maryland/Virginia area.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 24, 2015
This hike is insanely awesome. I have to say I am 260 not in good shape at all, but I was able to do the rock scramble, and the entire hike. The people on the hiking trail fantastic! The views do make it worth while. I just know when I reached the parking lot I was so happy to see my car.

The trail is very well marked, you can also follow others. It's scary in some parts, but on a whole if you want a challenge then do this hike. It took me about 7 1/2 hours to complete. I did stop a lot, to take pics or enjoy views.

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 10, 2015
This is the second time I hiked Old Rag -- the first was with 8" of snow on the ground in early March.

I started my hike around 2:00PM to avoid the major crowds. Though it was Mother's Day, the parking lot was completely full when I arrived. On my ascent, I passed 50-100 people coming off the mountain. Even so, I was still able to make it to the summit in 2 hours.

The people on the hike were very friendly, and the views were spectacular. Old Rag looks very different from the winter to the spring.

There is always a breeze at the summit, so even if it is 85 degrees, like it was when I hiked, it still can be pretty cool at the top.

Best of luck and enjoy your hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 25, 2015
Disclaimer:  First real hike, ever, so I don't have anything to compare against.  Having said that, my friends and I had a fantastic day hiking Old Rag.

Sleet in the morning (ended well before we reached the rock scrambles), and rain in the later afternoon, while we were on the long hike back to the parking lot, high of about 45 or so.

Crowds didn't seem too bad.  There were maybe two times where we had to wait for more than 1 or 2 people to get through a stretch of trail before we could go.  Everyone was very friendly and even helpful to each other.  One very nice woman checked on me while I was catching my breath, to make sure I was OK.

Challenging, but not terrible.  I have an irrational fear of heights, and there were only 3 or 4 places where the heights really bothered me, and even in those stretches, I have to acknowledge, my fear is irrational.  Intellectually, there was no real danger, as long as you're careful, and conscientious about what you're doing.

I heartily recommend this hike for anyone who is interested in a challenging hike.  Be prepared, follow the advice here on the site, and enjoy yourself.

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 11, 2015
I LOVE this hike! Today was my fourth time, but by far the fastest - did the 9.0 mile loop (from parking lot to parking lot) in 3hr, 13min. Note, though, that I was alone, didn't sightsee, didn't have any queues during any of the rock scrambling, and was doing it much more for the exercise and training. With my Camelbak and accessible snacks, I didn't even stop for breaks except for a couple of minutes at the summit.

By: Devon A Stoney Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 11, 2015
This hike really is challenging if you go up the trail and do the scrambles but definitely worth it! I am still sore but the day was perfect for this hike. Glad we did it. The park rangers were out in force and I would definitely recommend getting there early to get a parking space.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 4, 2015
Started out for Old Rag from Arlington a little after 7am and arrived to the parking area by 9am and it was already starting to fill up. Took the prescribed route on Hiking Upward and really enjoyed it. Passed a few people on the way up but essentially was alone for most of the hike until I reached the rock scramble area. I can definitely see how this section can get very backed up with people coming from both directions and differing levels of experience.

Next time I do this hike, i'll probably go counter clock-wise and take the fire road up to hit the summit first.

Finished and arrived back at my car in right at four hours. I also didn't take a lunch break.

By: Jason Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 4, 2015
Beautiful hike for those who are experienced hikers and have some scrambling experience. Got in early and thought that I was spaced out enough to have the trail to myself until I got to the rock scrambles. Not a huge deal as I liked chatting while waiting for people to do the sections. I'm glad to see people enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, but some caution would be advised. Wear shoes with good treads, have extra water and snacks (emergency kit is also a great idea) and please space yourselves out on the scrambles. Overall great hike but very heavily trafficked.

By: Deleahrium Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
We began at 11am and encountered only 3 other groups the whole time we traversed the circuit. The first group we saw was at the very first "difficult" section of rock scramble, where an individual stood in the way and "encouraged" us on, trying to tell us where to put our feet and what to grab. I literally had to put my face in this guy's crotch because he was just hanging out there. Not only a hiking faux pas, but just rude and dangerous to boot. I cannot even imagine trying to do the rock scramble with the heavy crowds I hear so much about. I'm so very glad we did it on a Wednesday in the early spring. It was gloomy and chilly but still beautiful and exhilarating.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 22, 2015
With the reviews warning of the crowds, I arrived at the lot before daybreak only to be surprised at the 15 or so cars already in the lot!  Turns out they must have been campers, because I was the first one up and off the mountain that day.  It's a good tough hike, with all your elevation gain coming in the first 3 or so miles.  It's all downhill after that.  I enjoyed the variety the rock scramble gave.  Some parts required a few seconds of thought about how to tackle it.  I was able to maneuver everything solo.  I almost made a grave mistake at one section, missing the arrows and began to climb up the wrong rock only to discover the backside of it had a nice 30' drop.  I can see how people get hurt out here.  I had trail shoes on, and they helped tremendously, but I still slipped in some spots.  I would imagine regular sneakers would have been much worse.  By the time I made it back to the main road, I passed a good 50+ people beginning their hikes.  I definitely think the crowds take away from the experience here, and consider myself fortunate to have been able to enjoy this hike all to myself, alone in my thoughts.  The views were good, but more your standard high point looking over the valley stuff.  I'm not sure I'd consider the views epic as some would say.  I actually enjoyed the fire road.  The beautiful stream runs right alongside it, and when faced with the two stream crossings, I enjoyed the "full experience" as you would say and went through the water instead of over the bridge.  As long as you don't have an aversion to yuppies - the unfriendly type who won't look you in the eye or return your wave or greeting, you should be ok and have fun on this one.  I went hard and finished fast, using the course for OCR training.  But if you're out for your standard hike and photographic ops, I'd allot 5-6 hours to enjoy the experience, plus more if the crowds are in.

By: Heather H. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 7, 2015
Was a warmer day (50 degrees) so decided to take advantage of the weather. It was a Saturday and arrived at noon, there were about 20 cars in the parking lot but not crowded by any means. We were alone for most of the hike, we passed people here and there but much more solitude then you would normally find in the spring/summer/fall. I was comfortable in light pants, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, North Face shell, hat and gloves. I didn't really need my hat much and the gloves were helpful with the rock scramble.

We did the rock scramble section first and finished on the fire road. Although it was warmer out, there was snow and ice on the trail once you got to higher elevation. I would recommend wearing hiking boots or shoes with good traction. The snow was not deep and packed down but your shoes will get wet on the bottom making the rock scramble sections difficult. I had sneakers on and was able to complete the hike but would not recommend wearing them. The descent had the worst conditions, there was a section that was mostly a sheet of ice and very difficult. We found the best method to get down without falling was to step on rocks that were protruding. Once we got through this section and to the fire road, everything was dry. Although, the fire road is long and boring, we were glad to be done with the ice!

It took us a total of 5 hours, including stopping for about 20 mins at the top to eat and enjoy the views. I would recommend going this time of year if you want to enjoy the hike without the crowds. Just be prepared for possible snow/ice!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 18, 2015
We chose to go up the rock scramble, and with 2,300 feet of vertical climb in 3.8 miles there was a lot of scrambling, but we loved the challenge and we loved the views. This is both challenging and an awesome hike. We are 54 and 55, both loved it and felt both challenged and satisfied. We were hoping to be the first up In 2015, but we had lots of company. A beautiful day with a tiny bit of sleet and rain, but we loved it and we both totally recommend the circuit hike, going up with the rock scramble and down the saddle trail and road. We both felt like this was a "lifetime hike" - in our top ten. Just be sure to take water and safety stuff and if you go up the rock scramble side - be ready to rumble. And be safe by following Park Service recommendations.

By: legowerewolf Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 27, 2014
This time, we did the hike in reverse so we get the boring part, the fire road, over first. From then on it was beautiful. I do not recommend this hike to people who are afraid of heights or do not enjoy rock scrambling.

By: Jimboblay Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 26, 2014
Awesome day with amazingly warm temperatures for the time of year. Very little ice and negligible snow combined with the great Old Rag granite to make for good footing. Many people on the mountain, including a trail running crew heading up the Ridge Trail as we reached the (closed) upper parking lot returning via the fire road. They clearly were going to be finishing up in the dark! Probably the best day hike in the region. Climbing in winter really opens up the views and helps keep the crowds down. However, extreme cold or icing conditions can make the rock scramble treacherous.

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 21, 2014
Happy winter solstice! My brother and I hiked up to the overlook at the beginning of the rock scramble in order to watch the sunrise on this, the shortest day of the year. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and the sunrise was quite unimpressive, but it was still a great day of hiking. Once the sun was up, we continued on to the summit. The rock scramble is always fun. The views from the top of Old Rag are always awesome. And, although it was chilly (mid-upper 20s F when we started, low 30s by the time we finished), there was no wind and the hiking kept us plenty warm. Just remember to wear layers so you can remove (or add) layers as needed to keep your body comfortable. There was no snow on the mountain and just a few patches of ice that could be easily avoided. And, with the 5 am start, there were no crowds!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 9, 2014
This was a great hike, granted it was cold and windy but when you have the urge to go hiking, do it! Dressed in layers because it was 30 degrees plus wind chill, was concerned the morning before I left to the mountain because reports were showing snow conditions, but much to my surprise, all the surrounding peaks had snow on the trees but not Old Rag ( Kinda depressed because I wanted a Snow Hike! ). When your on the Rock Scramble during Icy and Muddy conditions, take your time and be ready to get cold if anyone plans to hike this during winter. Give your self plenty of time and don't get caught off guard on day light once you summit, the real summit and not the false summits before, your only half way done and don't want to descend in the dark on the trails, luckily for me that wasn't an issue. Since I did this yesterday, there was nobody and I mean nobody on the trails, so I got the solitude aspect at a 5 on my hike!

As for the water aspect, on the way up take advantage of the water run off and top off your water bottles if you have filters, and bring plenty of water with you because the only other time you can refill is when your just about done with the hike. So what ever you think is good for a water supply, double it.

Dressing for the cold, layers is king but don't start off with all of it on because your body will warm up when you move. A Thermo Layer of a Long Sleeve Shirt and Pants is perfect with some kind of satin or silk boxers/underwear, its an old trick I learned for hiking in the rain that I apply to all my hikes. Polyester Cargo Pants or something along those lines, you don't want them to baggy but you want them so you can point and position your footing on the rock scramble. A decent long sleeve cotton shirt for your second layer followed by a hard-shell coat that's water and wind proof. Gloves are key for the cold rock scramble, insulated and water proof is best. Bring extra socks if you hike after it rained or snow, you should be doing that anyways on hikes because your feet will still get wet even with water resistant boots! Balaclava is always the best option to have on your head when its cold and windy and also keep a fleece in your pack, you might toggle back and forth with the hard shell depending how cold and windy it is, the west ridge is more exposed then the east ridge, so as you are through all the fun parts of the rock scramble you will have an awesome view that's on the east ridge where the wind is either non existent or much lower to what your were exposed to, this is a great point to rest and have a bite to eat, this is a large area so if there were a ton of people hiking you will have plenty of room, also you will re-acquire cell phone reception at this point so if you need your internet fix or snap chat & face time fix, go ahead!

Beyond is the false summits and a few "caves" even though they are not really caves, they are close enough for me anyways! The 2 False summit views are amazing, take as many photo's at these two summits because the real summit is not as fantastic for the photo opportunity.

The summit has multiple vista's and has a sign indicating that your at the real summit and not another fake summit. At this point, take some time to rest your legs, your gonna need them on the way down because the trail is not as smooth as it was coming back up and watch your footing, there are tons of things that can mess you up! If its muddy then slow down because the clay "dirt" in some area's is like walking on grease. Pack a high powered head torche in your pack, its just good habit to have everything you need if you get caught in the dark on the way back down, during the descent, you will come across 2 cabins "huts" on the way down, these are good rest points if needed if you have the time.

All in all, awesome hike! If you never have done a Rock Scramble before, do not hike this alone, its always best to hike in pairs or groups anyways!

By: ue Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 29, 2014
so great hike. but don't hike after it snowed recently. the icy conditions were very dangerous, especially on the scramble and the parts requiring jumping. we did it, but it definitely wasn't safe. also the trail back was completely iced over so we had to shuffle through miles of icy stone steps, falling most of the way. the whole hike took 5 hours when it probably should have taken 3 without the hazardous conditions. my tip. don't go in the winter.

By: John Foley Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 28, 2014
We couldn't get enough of the snow and ice on the way up! Very nice challenge in addition to the already demanding terrain. Best hike ever. I've hiked this trail probably 5 times. Some things to consider: As others have mentioned, it is a very popular hike. Therefore, do not expect to have the summit to yourself. The trail is quite narrow in many places, creating bottlenecks between groups. Please keep this in mind and cordially let faster groups pass. The weather is ever changing. Be prepared. If it has snowed recently, chances are there will be snow and ice on the way up at altitude. Sneakers and t-shirts won't cut it. Of the hundred people on the trail that day, we probably counted eighty pairs of tennis shoes, five pairs of gloves, twenty people asking us "have you done this before?", and one joker in a frigging t-shirt. We were forced to stop fifteen times or so for people turning around who had realized they were in over their head. Please be prepared. Happy trails!

By: ExFed Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 25, 2014
In response to ALC's question relating to the differences in mileage shown on their Garmin GPS compared to the that shown by Hiking Upward. I have found that my Garmin GPS routinely shows a longer track than the route published by Hiking Upward. I believe that it is more a matter of advancements made over time in the precision of the civilian GPS. Your newer Garmin GPS, by capturing more frequent points along your path, more accurately captures all the turns and switchbacks. Earlier GPS's captured less frequent points along a given path that resulted in a track that appeared as a series of connected straight lines at angles to each other. Is simply related to that old geometric rule that "a straight line is the shortest distance between two points." Hope this helps.

By: ALC Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 20, 2014
We hike Old Rag every year for my husband's birthday - a sort of test of the aging process -)
He just turned 56, I'm a bit younger. Two observations from this year:
1) It was surprisingly deserted! We usually have a moderate crowd, even on a weekday, but we actually had the summit to ourselves. We only saw 3 other parties.
2) We used a brand new Garmin GPS, and logged over 10 miles. We've noticed that our GPS says we hike further than posted mileages. I tend to believe the GPS - so how the NPS / Hiking Upward come up with mileages?

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 20, 2014
ALC most if not all trail mileage measurements in the park are done with a surveyors wheel. Normally a GPS would err on to the low mileage side especially if you had your waypoints set at long time intervals. For example imagine a hypothetical trail that has 20 half mile switchbacks perfectly staked above each other. If your waypoint is taken at the middle of each switchback you would not get credit for the back and forth linear hiking distance of each switchback. Sometimes there can be confusion in regards to what the mileage is measuring. On Old Rag some of the very old signage may be measuring to the closed upper lot while some of the newer signage may be measuring to the lower lot with the range contact station. There is 0.8 miles between the two.

By: stillalive Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Ok, so I knew it was going to be hard and crowded, cuz I read it on here, but I wanted to add my thoughts here for the next person reading these reviews. Maybe they care about these things.

I am 47, in pretty ok shape. I went with girlfriends on a Tuesday Veteran's day, so I will admit it's my fault. We got a really early start - 7:45 - I am pretty sure, and walked up the switchbacks. I am not sure that we saw but 20 people going up. It was pretty nice, plenty steep enough for me, and luckily cool, prob about 55. I enjoyed the hike up, had a great sweat going, and was looking forward to the views up top! It was the most perfect weather, and I was with some great friends. The day ahead spilled out before me in sunbeams of happiness.

We got to the rocks and it was really, REALLY neat. Like a big puzzle and juuuuust hard enough to be scary but not too hard to quit. yet.

Well, once we got up there, it was like 300 people up there. Where did they come from? Loud, reckless, and well, not my cup of tea. Dangerous poses atop rocks for the best 'facebook pics'. It was soooooo sad. Even people drinking beer. And really crappy beer at that! The backup for the rocks was like, I dunno, 100 people, and I could hear mean and insulting comments from the younger, stupider people that I was ruining the day for, apparently. That inbetween the constant cry of "I still don't have any service up here". I felt pressured and uncomfortable, and I kept letting them go past me, but it really was unpleasant.

I no longer could enjoy the challenge of the rocks, or peek at the views. I became very nervous about the f-ing idiots who were packed in so close behind me that if I needed to rethink my footing- I was screwed.

Ok, so, I am doing my all out best, trying to stay focused on the next obstacle and not absolutely lose it and start imploring the ignorant, shallow, yoga pants-clad youngsters behind me with their boyfriends carrying their packs to slow down and enjoy the moment, or at least A moment. My friends are kind, trying to be helpful, but I am clearly not a happy hiker.

Ok, so finally, we get to the down. And it is still rocky, steep, and required 100% focus from me to watch my footing. Probably best, since it was a constant game of stepping aside so those behind me could pass. But they didn't just pass. They would get REALLY REALLY CLOSE UP ON YOU. Some of these idiots were running (clearly they were invincible), and didn't even have the courtesy to say 'left' or 'pass' or ANYTHING, before they nearly knocked you down. One time I had to stop to refoot, and literally 3 people backed up into me like a pileup on the freaking beltway.

So, after a while of this next level of hell, we made it to the fire road. I was finally able to look about and notice the beautiful day, some illusion of space and catch the sounds of nature here and there. Because even though I was really, REALLY tired, (knees ESPECIALLY!)there really wasn't any other option than to go on :)

So, in retrospect, I am 1) happy I can check this hike off of my list. 2) happy I enjoyed the day with great friends, 3) pleased I got to work on my self restraint and focus techniques for the day, and 4)will never bother again, unless my some chance I can reserve the mountain for the day for people who enjoy a little nature along with their need for attention.


p.s. for those competitive sorts, you might also tie your legs together or perhaps add blindfolds to enhance your enjoyment of the day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 8, 2014
I wanted my son's (6) first 'real' hike to be memorable. We hike nearly every weekend in the Richmond area - Belle Island - and he was truly ready for Old Rag, which I have hiked over two dozen times.

We did the entire circuit on a crisp sunny day. The others have already said that this trail is crowded, and I agree. With the exception of one time I hiked it on New Year's day, it has always had a good number of hikers. Peak times in the fall are crowded but let's be fair - it is a great hike and a big mountain and crowded is relative. But, if you must choose only one hike in this area, this is by far and away the one you want to choose. My son's favorite part was the rock scramble! We will be back of course.

If you are interested in a shorter, less crowded, but great hike in the area, I would recommend Mary's Peak. It is a nearby hike that it shorter and has rewarding views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 4, 2014
For those considering this hike who are a little older, don't be intimidated, but be prepared.  I am 56 and in decent shape, and was able to complete the hike (parking lot to parking lot) in 6.5 hours.  This was with lots of short breaks on the way up, waits at some of the rock scramble choke point, and a very slow pace on the fire trail (due to sore feet).  The day was great and the views fantastic.  Along the way, met some very nice people, and everyone helped each other over the difficult obstacles.  Here are some lessons learned that may help the next person: (1) Bring lots of water.  I had 1.5 liters for each person, and would have liked more (2) Protect your feet.  Bring good hiking shoes, no sneakers (3) Bring first aid kit.  You will want something if you get a cut, scrape, or blister (4) Take is easy on the decent.  It may be temping to hurry down the mountain, but your knees will not thank you (5) Get an early start.  Even though this is a tough climb, a slow pace and lots of breaks will make it comfortable (6) Don't go alone.  There will probably be people there to help, but you will want someone that you can rely upon, just in case.

By: John M Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 4, 2014
My favorite hike ever, and I'm always on the lookout for another hike with a similar rock scramble. The closest I've found so far is Stricklers Knob and Bearfence, and while they are worthwhile, they are tame compared to this hike. This is probably about the 20th time hiking it and it's not getting old. Took several kids including my 6 year old for the 1st time and he loved it as soon as we got to the rocks. Wish had started this earlier as the kids wanted to stop to play at many of the rocks walking up the ridge. Just not enough time in the day to do everything I wanted. I couldn't believe how many people were there for a Tuesday. Two-thirds or more of the lot was full (50-75 cars?). Two years ago on election day, there were maybe 5 cars.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 31, 2014
My boyfriend and I hiked this on a Friday at 10am. There were definitely a lot of hikers but not enough to cause any real traffic. The rock scramble was definitely the highlight but being just over 5 feet I needed a couple boosts here and there. Bring lots of water and a snack! It took us 6 hours to complete and we took our time. Stopping at the scenic spots, taking photos and having snack/lunch breaks. Although it's challenging you will not regret this hike! Have fun!

By: Skywhistler Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
This is the second time I did this hike. First time was about two weeks ago.. and what a difference two weeks can make! If you get the chance, the trees are at peak color in my opinion, and absolutely breathtaking. I usually do long hikes on the AT north of SNP to stay away from crowds, and I always considered Rag Mountain a tourist trap so I stayed away from it. But, today I am proud to say I saw a wild BLACK BEAR for the first time in my life!!! It was a cub that crossed the trail about 20 yards in front of me at the 4.2 km mark from the lower parking lot(I had GPS), and I was a little worried that Mama bear would be near, but i kept moving and it turned out fine. So now I must admit, Old Rag is the best day hike accessible to DC. Views, rock scrambles, and wildlife encounters that rival the most remote of trails in the Appalachia make Old Rag a winner.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 25, 2014
We arrived on the mountain around 8am. Somehow we got turned around and actually parked at the opposite end of the mountain, we came up berry hollow road and parked there (no charge to park). We had to hike up a road about a half mile where we came to division straight down the fire trail to start the hike at Old Rag parking, or right heading straight up to the summit (where most are coming down). We decided to go straight for the summit. I've done both ways now.

This hike was a little more steep heading up, but we reached the summit within 2 hours and it was beautiful!

At this point you have 2 options, to go back down the way you came, or to head down through the rock scramble which we did. Fighting the bottleneck of people coming up the mountain, wasn't much fun, but at least we weren't waiting in a line just go get up the mountain (and there was a VERY LONG LINE) we were very lucky that people were kind and lets us squeeze through. Teamwork people! It's a plus on this mountain!

We reached the bottom (Old Rag Parking) by 1:00. But we still had to hike back up to our car at the other parking lot, which was another 2.5 miles. This was an easy hike for those who had gone the opposite way because this was a downhill beautiful walk. For us, it was uphill the whole way.

I don't recommend this hike for the elders, for anyone who has knee issues, or for backpacking children. I definitely recommend either starting early or starting late. I also recommend trying the hike backwards like we did. I believe it was a better workout and I burned more calories going the opposite way. We did take my 6 year old nephew and he did great most of the way, until we started walking up the fire trail. That was tough for him, and he basically cried the whole way back to the car.

I hope to do this hike in a couple of weeks again.

By: Twin explorer Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 24, 2014
Beautiful day to hike and views of all the fall colors were fantastic. Brought my 15 year old and 19 year old. We took our time went up and back the rock scramble trail. It took us 7 hours total.

By: Andy Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Going on a weekday, there were only about 10 cars in the parking lot. I went clockwise, as I usually do, and had a blast (again, as usual). Found some cool insects and met some cool people on the way up. The fire road is long and a little too flat for my liking, so after spending some time at the summit, I went back the way I came. Shortly after leaving the summit a moderately heavy rain came through. This made the rock scramble HARD. What is usually medium-difficulty was now high-difficulty. My shoes were slipping on every boulder. I had to stop and think about how I was going to approach each scramble. Luckily, I didn't hurt myself but wow, this made the workout much more intense. If there is rain predicted, be wary that the rock scramble will be exponentially harder. While this made the experience more exciting for me, an instance like this may ruin the hike for you if you are unable to pass the more difficult parts of the rock scramble.

P.S. The views are incredible right now.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The first time I hiked Old Rag I had two small children and plenty of energy. Now over 30 years later, with two grandchildren, one about to graduate from high school, I decided to try it again. What is wrong with me? I am not in great shape but do walk several times each week. Since I live in FLA this is probably not the best preparation for hiking Old Rag. Also I probably should have invested in some shoes with a little tread on them instead of the racing slicks I was wearing which made the rock scramble even more interesting. I arrived to an almost empty parking lot at about 8:30 on Oct 21st. I took two bottles of water, crackers, a fig bar and my arthritic knees and headed up the switchbacks toward the summit of Old Rag Mountain. My intention was to hike for one hour and then take a break. I took my first break after about 45 minutes. The higher I got the more frequent my breaks became. The views were getting better and better so this was a good excuse to stop and rest. By the time I reached the rock scramble I was almost spent. I would climb a little and then rest a little. I was glad it was a weekday with no crowds. Several hikers passed me while I rested but none had to wait for me or witness my unique style of hiking which at times included climbing on all fours. Some checked to make sure I had water and one offered me a band aid. It seems that although I wanted to abide by the ’leave no trace’ hiking practice, I was forced to leave a little skin on the rock scramble. I reached the summit about noon. I was so happy I could have danced a little jig if my legs would have cooperated. The view was well worth the effort. I should have spent more time at the summit but was concerned about the trip down. It was not as physically exhausting going down the other side but each step sent pain through my knees and hips. About the time I reached the fire trail it started to rain which was no problem then but had the rocks been wet when I went up the scramble, I would not have made it. My legs were killing me by the time I reached the parking lot and completed the hike within 6 or 7 hours. I got in my truck, looked back at Old Rag and thought to myself ‘ah, that wasn’t so tough’. If I had it to over again: I would not go alone, could have used a push or pull from time to time. I would have the proper footwear. I would take more time to enjoy the hike and views.

By: drakeducaine Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2014
First time hiking this trail, and my trio had an early start and a cool, breezy day to aid us. Overall I'm very glad to have done it, and encourage everyone to go enjoy their national park, but I did want to note some tips from my experience (and echo those of others) that will be helpful. Those tips are below. I am of average fitness, and tackled the trail going clockwise. The first part (switchbacks) tired me out the most, because I was trying to tackle them too quickly. Take breaks and be patient. The rock scramble is a blast and was well worth the effort of the upward climb. If I could do that portion alone, I'd be up there every day! Take your time and enjoy solving all of the puzzles presented by the beautiful geology. There is a significant descent before you reach the fire road, which was muddy and slow-going for me to watch my footing. The fire road may seem 'boring' but was a calming reward after the work of climbing, giving me a chance to really take in the beautiful colors this time of year. I was a little sore but very happy at the end!

1) Arrive early! We started our hike at 7:30AM and the parking lot was already quite full. When we returned to the lot around 4PM the place was so full that they had opened up parking on neighboring farm pasture. It seems this time of year is busy because of those coming to see the fall foliage.
2) Be prepared. Lots of water, food for energy, and a first aid kit are a must. Cute little water bottles and a baggie of cereal aren't going to cut it. The summit is a great place to picnic and there are plenty of scenic spots on the trail to take hydration breaks. Make sure your first aid kit has a cold pack and elastic bandages - if you don't need them a fellow hiker might.
3) Be prepared. Sturdy footwear is a must, as the trail is often muddy, the rocks worn smooth, and this time of year there are acorns everywhere to roll around on like marbles. Bring layers - I varied through three layers of tops as the weather and elevation changed. Gloves may help on the rock scramble, but I preferred my bare hands for the best grip.
4) Be prepared. The trail is popular, and the days are short this time of year. Bring a headlamp if you have one, or a small flashlight you can hold in your teeth, in case you run out of daylight. You'll need to keep your hands free to tackle the steep parts of the trail, even when not rock scrambling. Wear a pack that is well-balanced and secured on your back. A group ahead of us had a lot of their pack contents go spilling out on the rock scramble.

Finally, bring a good camera! The extra weight is worth it - there are beautiful shots around everywhere.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2014
I have completed this hike 4-5 times, because it is that much fun. It's popularity is totally justified. The views are amazing, it's physically taxing, and going off course and exploring the rock scrambles is awesome.

Do not go during this time of the year!!! There were lines to backed up a countless rock scrambles and overlooks. Some lines were backed up to 45 minute wait times to pass rock scrambles. Luckily we were able to pass around some scrambles without climbing gear by going off course, but I would not recommend this for many. Eventually we got to a point where we could not pass by going off course so we turned around and went home.

If you go during peak season, do it on a week day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 17, 2014
Not really a hike review as much as some seasonal advice for Old Rag hikers. Every year around this time Old Rag and the rest of SNP see huge surges in traffic due to the enticement of Fall weather and Fall leaf colors. It would not be unusual for the volume of hikers on Old Rag to be 4-6 times greater than a nice Spring or Summer day. For your best advice check out Hiking Upward reviews or Old Rag blog sites, You Tube videos ect. from peak leaf color times in prior years.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 12, 2014
I did hiking yesterday. It was my first hiking in US. It was very challenging but at the same time was an amazing experience.With rock scramble being both steep and requiring rock climbing, boulder hopping, passing through small caves and walking on narrow trails , followed with few cuts and scratches but finally reaching the SUMMIT was breath taking.

It took us 4:50 mins to complete the whole circuit of 9 miles. My recommendation is please wear shoes with good gripping , as it will help you in climbing rocks. Also please wear full pants to avoid cuts and scratches.

Overall it was the best hiking experience. Looking forward to do it again sometime. Guys, Go ahead and do this hiking. You will never regret your decision.

By: Kait Twentysomething Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 12, 2014
The views were breathtaking. They are really reason enough to go on the hike. For me, the rock scrambles at the top added to the fun of the hike. They are difficult, definitely more than just a hop or large step, and I saw several hikers (men and women) that I felt dressed inappropriately and also were not courteous in allowing others to go around since they had trouble with some of the more difficult rock features. I would recommend sturdy and loose-fitting clothing to allow for reaching with legs and arms and also with scrambling up or over rock on hands and knees or your bottom. Many people wore tight-fitting clothing (jeans) that restricted their mobility so they needed help from other hikers (strangers) on features. Some also wore flimsy pants or shorts, and ended up tearing their clothing or scratching their knees. As another reviewer stated, it was a very busy weekend and there were waits for the features (~30 minutes). While it is wonderful for so many to show interest in our national parks and natural treasures, I think it is important for those with fear of heights or who are unsure of themselves on the rocks, to let others go ahead while they work up their courage. It can even help to see how others tackle the problem. There would have been a backup anyway due to the volume, but a lot of the long stops were due to a frozen hiker that refused to step aside and was scared to move forward.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 6, 2014
I've hiked Old Rag over a dozen times since I was a teenager back in the 1970s. Every time I am still amazed by how cool a hike it is. Now I try to do it once or twice a year, in late spring and/or early fall. I try to take a weekday off when school is in session and the weather is good to avoid the crowds. Still, there were about three dozen cars when I arrived at 10:30 AM on a Monday. If you are coming from the DC area, I like to take I-66 to exit 27 and VA 647 south to US 522 south to get to VA 231, rather than taking I-66 to exit 43A and US 29 south to US 211 west.

I decided hoof it, relatively speaking, although in a few places I kept pace with other hikers and stopped for a bit to catch the scenery. I left the upper parking lot at 10:53 AM and arrived at the summit via the Ridge Trail at 12:46 PM, a little under two hours. I ate lunch on the very peak boulder, which is pretty awesome with the 360 degree view on a clear day! Going down I really hoofed it - I jogged most of the way. I left the summit at 1:25 PM on the Saddle Trail, made it to the Weakley Hollow Fire Road at 1:59 PM, and back to the upper parking lot at 2:31 PM.

If you haven't hiked Old Rag before or in a long time, you may be surprised at how much of the climb is scrambling, crawling, jumping, squeezing, and sliding across, over, under, and between boulders. You can do it by yourself if you have good upper body strength but in some places it helps to have someone push or pull you. When you think you are at the end of the scramble you are probably only about of a third of the way through the scramble. Make sure you always keep the next blue blaze in sight so you don't get off the trail - if you don't see the next blue blaze find it before you go too far off in the wrong direction. Don't get fooled by the false summits you're not at the summit until you see a wooden sign that says "Summit". All this might seem daunting, but if you read the other reviews you will see many people have done it and found it to be a very rewarding accomplishment, much different from anything else you do. That's why I keep doing it.

I recommend you get one of those little hydration backpacks with enough room to carry your snacks and lunch, because you don't want to be carrying anything in your hands or over one shoulder - there are many places where you need both hands and anything on one shoulder will just fall off. I also wear gloves (the kind you wear to the gym with no fingertips) so I don't scrape up my hands, long pants so I don't scrape up my knees or shins, and sturdy shoes with soles that are grippy but not too hard.

In 2012 I broke my heel bone in the middle of the boulder scramble and was extracted on a helicopter courtesy of the National Park Service. In 2013 on the way down I almost stepped on a Copperhead snake. This year there was no drama!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 5, 2014
On a second hike of Old Rag, we learned from a local hiker in Culpeper, Va about an alternate route to the summit. Start at Berry Hollow and follow the fire road to the Saddle Trail to the Summit and return. He reported it was 3.8 miles to the Summit. A Garmin used by one of our 3 hikers measured it to be 6.0 Miles. A Trimble phone app measured it at 8.8 miles. The Trimble reported an elevation gain of 2,313 ft. On our previous (first) hike we really enjoyed the hike as it was described.  We did not mind the rock scramble but the long march to the parking lot was a little much. The alternate trail that we used on Sunday used the same fire trail going west. It was only 0.8 mile or so from the parking lot to the start of the Saddle Trail. The weather was spectacular: Average on the trail RH 51.7 % Average Temperature: 51.9 F. The average sky cover was 0.2. Can't ask for more.

Thanks to HU for maintaining such a good resource for hiking.

By: Stephanie B. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 5, 2014
My husband and I had been talking about doing this hike for years and finally got out and did it.  What fun!  We got to the trail head at 8:40am and were pleased to see that the lot hadn't completed filled up.  It was busy, but the groups started at staggered times, so it never got too congested once on the trail.  If people needed to pass, we let them. We did have to wait a bit for some people to get through some of the tougher parts of the climb but that was expected (and we didn't really wait that long - maybe 5 minutes at most?). We carried one day-pack between the two of us for food, water, and emergency/medical kit, and at times one of us had to hold the pack while the other climbed through/up/down the passes. The NPS calls this "very strenuous" and notes that you should plan for it to take approx. 7.5 hours. We are of average fitness level and it took us 5 hours to complete the whole circuit (9.2 miles from the parking lot and back - going the clockwise route). Will definitely be back!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 4, 2014
We were very nervous to hike Old Rag based on all the reviews we read, and perhaps we psyched ourselves out because the hike was not as difficult as we imagined it to be. However, it exceeded our expectations in terms of how much we enjoyed ourselves, and halfway through the hike we said we already wanted to hike it again! Yes, it is challenging, and yes there were a few times complete strangers gave us a butt-boost (and we returned the karma), but really it was not as difficult as what we were prepared to hike. I am embarrassingly out of shape but made it to the summit. I think it helped tremendously that I'm 6', as having long legs was advantageous. I'm an avid hiker, and this was the second best hike I've done in my lifetime, second only to Half Dome in Yosemite.

By: Kenny Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 26, 2014
It was a great hike the weather was at it's best, me and my wife are in our mid 50"s and found the the trail very challenging. Prepare yourself for the rock scramble, safety first . We took it slow and took rest stops for water and Power Bars finished in 7 hours. Glad we made the hike early and before the weekend because we needed extra time to work through the harder section of the trail. The veiw would have been awsome if the leaves were gone.

By: Miranda Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 20, 2014
We had hiked old rag two years ago by starting up the fire road and going back down the same way. We figured that with the amount of people doing the scramble on a nice day, that we wouldn't want to wait. We decided to do the same thing for our hike yesterday. The fire road can seem never ending going up and then on the way down. When we reached the fire road on the way down, we stopped to read then sign and I heard some rustling in the trees.. Sure enough, it was a bear. We slowly continued to walk towards the road and continued to look behind us the entire walk back! We started at 12:30 and made it back to the parking lot by 6:25. We spent 40 minutes on the summit eating lunch and taking in the awesome views. All in all, its worth the sore muscles the day after! ..especially when you drive away from the mountain and see how big it is.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 31, 2014
did this one this morning. whoo wee! tough hike. it was 11 miles all in from the parking lot and took roughly five hours not counting a couple breaks ).  trails are very well marked and maintained.  the best views I've seen in SNP. highly recommend this hike! saw a humingbird, deer, and skunk.

happy trails -

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 25, 2014
This is an amazing and challenging hike. It is dangerous at times, but that is part of my enchantment with Old Rag. It's often hard to find a trail that doesn't baby you. If you are looking for guardrails and warning signs, Old Rag is not for you.

We started at 11AM and ended up finishing at 5PM. I was with a less fit partner that required more breaks. Crowds were not a problem, especially past the first false summit. As soon as the scramble started there were only a handful of groups and everyone was courteous.

This is one of my favorite hikes, and I will be going back in October to experience the fall. Just be prepared- this isn't a regular hike where it's a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. This is extremely physical, and if you are out of shape you can seriously hurt yourself or die on one of the rocks.

By: Lindsay Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 23, 2014
I'm relatively in shape and try to go hiking every weekend. That being said, I have a love-hate relationship with this hike. It's really tough. The hike up isn't so bad if you hike frequently and are used to switchbacks. The switchbacks are pretty well graded and predictable. They wind through quiet forest with enough scenic variety to keep it interesting. By the time you finish the rock scramble though, you're exhausted. You're really using your whole body on this hike, so those arm muscles I haven't been working were burning by the time I was done.

That being said, the views really are everything you expect them to be. They're amazing. And it's not just at the summit (Beware-- there are at least 4 or 5 false summits. Keep pushing upward and over until you see the sign saying you're there!), it's all over. We had a great time just taking in the sights. No wildlife really. I think it's too populated.

The only reason I'm giving this a 4 is the miles long fire road you have to walk to get back to the parking lot. I really hate fire roads as they completely take you out of the mindset that you're hiking through the woods if you see random cars drive by and feel gravel under your feet. And this fire road is long, especially after you've already hiked a trail as tough as this. Just try to mentally prepare yourself for that walk.

Overall, definitely a great hike that everyone should try. Make sure you have plenty of water and great shoes!

By: Bruce Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 22, 2014
My son and  I hiked this and absolutely loved it.  We're both new to hiking, we did some short hikes while vacationing in Maine a few weeks ago and realized that we really enjoyed it.  This was a bit of a step up in difficulty but we both fared pretty well and had a great time.  The description provided is pretty accurate, but it does somewhat downplay the first part of the hike.  The switchbacks are pretty hard and I was getting fairly tired.  Actually a little nervous given all the warning about the rock scramble.  But we both found the rock scramble to be very energizing ... in part because it is so fun and also you get to employ your whole body in the workout instead of just your legs.  Really just can't express how fun the scramble was.  Once you get to the Old Rag shelter it is really just a long walk.  After the scramble a bit boring, and for this 50+ year old, a time for the muscle aches to start revealing themselves.  But it was very nice and offered plenty of time to chat about the hike and so on.  Also, a nice little stream ran along most of it.

By: Bryan Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Truly spectacular hike and one heck of a workout! I have done some hard hikes before but this one was VERY challenging. The switchbacks seem to never end going up first and the rock scramble is very challenging, but if you are in good shape then you will have the time of your life! The rock scramble is epic to say the least and once you get to the top the views are spectacular. It says the length is 8 miles on here, but from where you actually park, the length is actually a bit over 9 miles. I did the whole 9 mile circuit in 4.5 hours (2 hours up, 2 hours down) including half an hour at the top to rest, but I pushed myself pretty hard on this hike and I am in great shape, so don't expect to match that pace. Plan about 3 hours to get up and 3 hours to get down, plus however much time you want for resting and sightseeing. Overall, this is an UNFORGETTABLE hike and by far the best one I have EVER been on so far. I will definitely do it again many times and hopefully beat my first time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 18, 2014
I've hiked Old Rag twice this week. I'm 35 years old in good shape. The first time I started at 8:25 and finished at 12:15. Today I started at 8:28 and finished at 12:00. I ran from the Weakly Hollow/Berry Hollow intersection to the lower lot. Took half an hour from the intersection to the lower lot.

The first hike I did last week I actually saw two bears on the Saddle Trail. The first one was on the very rocky part of the Saddle Trail, he was standing in the trail and I almost ran into him. I was pretty surprised so I walked back a bit trying to decide what to do. I was standing there and he had walked back towards me uphill from me, so I was able to walk past him. I didn't run any of the Saddle Trail after that. I saw a second bear about a mile lower, about a hundred feet up the hill from me. I would of walked right past him had I not heard the leaves/braches wrustling a little.

I noticed there were a lot more flies today. I was looking forward to standing on the top rock, but there was a horde of insects flying right over it. As I was hiking alone my main worry was running into a rattle snake or bees, I didn't see either. Everything went pretty well.

By: Dan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 16, 2014
My wife, daughter and I hiked Old Rag for the first time today. Ideal weather for August, not too crowded except around the summit and trail in great condition. We missed seeing a bear by about 5 minutes (2.5 miles up fire road from upper lot). Rock scrambling was a highlight for all of us!

By: Mike Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 15, 2014
I hiked Old Rag some 7 years ago and enjoyed it.  I'm 54 now and made the circuit again in one piece.  it was a bit crowded for a Friday.  Great time and great hike - met new friends.

By: Halls Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Just finished this hike with my wife and two boys (ages 10 and 5). Had we known the rock climbs were this tough, may have had second thoughts, as we spent some significant time hoisting the 5 year old up and through/down the rock climbs. No accidents or near accidents, however. Did help boost one older gentleman up through a climb once after he had taken a tumble.

Otherwise, it was awesome. Actually, most difficult for me was the downhill piece as your knees take quite a pounding.

A lot of fun overall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
I'm a local girl, who avoids hiking here when it is crowded. I'm not sure how people enjoy this mountain with so many people on it. It is probably just my hiking preference for more remote areas. Today was perfect! Perfect weather and little trail traffic. It is a magical mountain and with less people you really can relax and enjoy what it has to offer.

Please remember: Take your trash with you, bring water(the poor ranger gave up her water because a hiker only brought a small bottle), realize your physical limitations (If you can't summit, turn around.), learn to read trail signs (Do not turn right onto Nicholson Hollow Trail, read markers) and watch the weather. For those who are in good shape, add on Robertson Mountain and rest the next day :)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 1, 2014
I rarely post reviews, but wanted to express the awesomeness of this hike and how it prepared me for the Spartan Super on 24 August in Wintergreen.  For context, I am a 35 year old male.

This hike is amazing, as most have already said, and can be done very quickly if you arrive early and come prepared.  I train on weekday mornings, arriving before 8am, and carry 2 liters of water, energy gels, and a basic medical kit.  My first time on this ~9 mile course was completed in 3 hours and I tried to run this every 2 weeks for the past 2-3 months.  My last attempt was completed in 2 hours 19 min. 

I hike hard, clockwise, and reach the summit in 1.5 hours and then run down the back of the trail to the parking area.

I will now incorporate a weighted vest or sandbags to elevate the training for next years races.

Enjoy and let me know how this training works for you for your next Spartan or extreme race.

Hit me up if you are interested in training together.

By: Diana Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 26, 2014
I had never been hiking or done any rock climbing before and thought I was also pretty fit! It is true what they say it is a VERY strenuous and you need alot of upper body strength to do the rock scramble. Good shoes/boots that wont slip are also highly recommended. Pack light but bring plenty of water! I would not recommend for someone who thinks they might not finish because once you are up there you either have to finish or work your way back down ( which has its own challenges). BUT I was determined and very proud of myself to complete it and the views made it so worth it!

By: Mr. Smith Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 18, 2014
Awesome hike! I started around 9. The hike is about 9.5 miles from old rag parking lot and back. I went by myself and passed about 7 small groups, so it wasn't to busy. I accomplished the trip in about 3.5 hours so I was clicking off a pretty good pace. Legs were a bit heavy when i got to the rock scramble, so next time I will probably slow it down! I recommend bring snacks and lots of water, It was pretty toasty at the top. Be aware of the big fussy black bears, I saw 2 on the trail.

By: The Cunningham's Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 9, 2014
We are both in our 50's, so I was a little intimidated by some of the other reviews. It was definitely a challenge, but we took it slow and steady and made it back in one piece. The weather was great and we hardly saw anyone on the trail. We had the whole place to ourselves! It took us seven hours to complete the hike, but like I said, we took it slow. I would recommend this hike for anyone who is reasonably fit and up for a challenge.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I live in the Phila. suburbs so I woke up at 2 AM to get on the road by 3:00 and was able to begin my hike at 8:00. I'm 57 yrs old and fit for my age. Staying fit sometimes has its drawbacks, and years of running and sports in general resulted in a total knee replacement early January of this year. I've rehabbed and worked and this was going to be a test. It was! To make it more of a challenge, it was over 70 degrees at the start and reached near 90 5 hours later as I finished the 9 mile circuit. It was great, it was sweaty, and the bouldering and scrambling were especially challenging! As this was my first time ever to Shenandoah and Old Rag, I was surprised and impressed how tough it was. Doable certainly, but no joke and one needs a pretty decent level of fitness and strength to get to the summit. I'm proud to say that I did, my knee's fine, but a lot of the rest of me is still sore 2 days later as I recline on my couch back in New town,Pa. S

By: Midlo Day Hikers Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 26, 2014
My family and I have hiked Old Rag twice before, always descending via the fire road. This time we opted to descend going back down Old Rag trail. We arrived at the parking area around 8:20AM. The lot was already very full. Along the way we saw 2 non-venomous snakes and 1 large rattler. What made this hike different was the heat. We have hiked this trail in cooler weather and we found the heat very draining. Long lines formed at some of the more difficult parts of the trail. The boulders actually got hot to the touch during the day. We made it to the top, which was so full of people that it was hard to find a place to sit to eat lunch. Going down my 18 year old daughter became overheated and exhausted. We had plenty of water and snacks, had her drinking the whole way up and down, but the heat was too much for her. At one point I thought we would have to call the park ranger to get her down. But, once we got off the rocks and back on the shaded dirt trail she recovered quickly and made it back to the car on her own feet. So, from this experience I would suggest Gatorade or some other electrolytes type liquid instead of plain water for hot weather hikes. Having descended this trail using both the fire road and Old Rag trail, I prefer going down Old Rag trail. My daughter, on the other hand, may have preferred the fire road.

By: cally Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Amazing! If you love to rock scramble this hike is for you. So much fun.We went the rock scramble to the summit and back. Word of warning start EARLY! We started at 6:30 AM and we only saw 6 people our whole way up. We counted over 800 on our way down. Could not imagine going up with that many people but getting down we found ways around them. Worth it!

By: CA-TX-VA Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 12, 2014
This was incredible. A buddy and I decided we wanted to catch the the sunrise on top of Old Rag, totally worth it. Though possibly frowned upon, we slept in the back of our car and woke up at 3am to begin the hike, sunrise was at 6:10am. We went counter clockwise in order to avoid the rock scramble in the dark. We took a 45 liter pack that carried five liters of water, food, and a few other things. It weighed maybe 25lbs. Booked it up the backside and caught an amazing view. We're both in our 20's so, though it was strenuous, it wasn't bad carrying a pack. The rock scramble was a lot of fun. Would love to go back and do it again. We didn't see anyone else until we were halfway down. Met an older gentleman who hikes Old Rag about 25 times a year. And a group of girls who were ill prepared and had only an ozarka water bottle. Wake up early, bring water, bring snacks, you won't regret it. 3 liters of water and you'll be fine, you could probably easily manage with 2 or 1 but I like to be well hydrated.

By: Mark R Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 5, 2014
We got to parking lot about 930 am. The trail was dry and day warm. We only saw a total of 12 hikers on the ascent. No leaves above 1500 feet. Warm and sunny on top. Descent on weakley hollow-- some rain sprinkles---- back to car by 300 pm--- rain began falling harder. The Hughes River is high.

By: Bharat B Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Amazing Hike! Easily the best views on the Blue ridge. Summit Experience was amazing!

By: Dave F. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 2, 2014
Got to the parking lot 7:45am and only a handful of cars in the parking lot. Beautiful spring day. Warm with a slight breeze. Really enjoyed the scramble up. A little breezy at the top which was nice after breaking a sweat on the way up. Had the top to ourselves for a bit so we lingered until more people started to arrive. When it started to get a little more crowded we headed down towards the fire road. The way back down was less strenuous and likewise had virtually no dramatic views but still beautiful.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 25, 2014
Another glorious day for a hike. After checking the weather, we decided to start early and try to be off the trail by one in the afternoon. For once, the weather report was spot on. It started raining 5 minutes after we pulled out of the parking lot. I hope everyone on the trail made it off safely.

We were the first ones in the parking lot at about 6:45am, and this was without a doubt, the most I've ever had this mountain to myself. It was my buddy's first time climbing Old Rag, and he wasn't disappointed. The hike up the hill, and the first half of the ridge trail was sunny, and we didn't see a soul. About halfway through the ridge trail, we heard and say a group of 3 behind us, but other than them, and one jogger who passed up on the way down, we didn't see anyone. It was awesome. It started clouding up and getting colder around 10:30 so we picked it up a bit, got to the top around 11, and began the walk down. We made it to the car around 1, and I still beat my wife home from work. A good day all around.

This is one of my favorite hikes, but I had never done it this early in the day. It's now my preferred method. I loved having the mountain to myself. What a gorgeous hike. Just check the weather first.

By: Mark Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 17, 2014
My 8 y.o. daughter and I completed the hike in about 5 and half hours. Fitbit said it was almost 11 miles from car door to car door. We did explore the summit a bit after a long lunch, so that may have added to the mileage. We each carried over a liter of water and had plenty left at the end. There were about 20 cars in the lot when we arrived at 9:30. It was almost full when we left around 3:30. There are well-used portable toilets at the parking lot and an outhouse that was clean enough (at the Old Rag shelter about 3/4 through the hike) that my picky kid used it. We were early enough that we had some moments of solitude throughout the hike, though not in the rock scramble. We went clockwise, like most people who reviewed here. I would thinking going against the traffic in the rock scramble would add a lot of time if you are going the other way. There were a few people in student groups who seemed surprised at the challenge of the scramble, but all helped each other through. My young daughter did need a few lifts throughout the scramble. The suggestions to make sure to have your hands free and gloves for the scramble were spot on - made our climb much easier. The last few miles on the fire roads seem to go on forever and proved to be the hardest part for both me and my daughter. To my daughter's chagrin it turned into an opportunity to explain the context of the line "A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" and other fatherly advice. Overall, a lovely day in a beautiful setting we will not soon forget. Next time we will definitely start earlier. Can't wait! P.S. there is a great little brook that runs through the parking lot that feels great on the feet right before the long drive home.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 12, 2014
It was my first hike of the year and I enjoyed every step of the way :)


By: Dylan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Great hike! Although it was very muddy on the way up. Icy on the way down after the day shelter.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Can't say enough good about hiking the Ridge Trail Boulder Scramble from the first "False Summit" to the last (4th) real summit.  Snow and Ice were a HUGE threat down the back (Saddle Trail) however, until God had mercy on me and put Robert Look (NPS Volunteer) in my path.  It was then that I learned of "Microspikes" (Shoe sized spike-embedded rubber slip-on nettings that brought back memories of putting chains on autotires). Anyway these REI-sold easy to carry life-savers were really all one could use descending in the dark (as we were doing) without giving way to sliding down on one's butt (whether accidentally or on purpose).  And such sliding quickly gives way to torn pants if you're lucky (or worse if you're not)!!!!!  Please also know that it goes without saying that a "Miner's lignt is an absolute must regardless of conditions (REI has these too!).  You will always need to have your light because of the impossibility of knowing when you will actually summit (and it is pitch black up there when the lights go out, believe me:).  Happy Trails.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Question: Are dogs allowed on this hike? If they are, is a good idea to bring them along? Thanks for the help!

Answer: Dogs are NOT allowed on the Old Rag Ridge Trail. For a full list of trails pets are not allowed on in the SNP visit:

By: Stefano Ratti Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 27, 2013
Great as usual! I have done it several times and it's the best in the mid-Atlantic. Fun scramble, great views, nice woods. ~5 hours to complete the trip, including stops and lunch at the top, with 5 kids (8 yrs old and up).

By: John and Dan Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 16, 2013
This is a great hike--a lot easier in summer, without ice on trail and rocks. We ascended on the ridge trail, returned on the bridle trail & fire road. If you decide to climb in winter, after decent snow has fallen, be prepared for slow going and to be creative and adaptable in your approach to the mountain. Since days are short, begin very early in the morning to allow yourself ample time. Previous hikers packed the snow on the trail to ice freezing and thawing covered rocks with a glaze of ice. Sure footing and handholds were hard to find, and sometimes not available at all. It took teamwork to ascend, sometimes requiring leaving the blazed trail to move up. A fun challenge, but requiring great caution to avoid slipping. The descent on the other side of the mountain was even slower and dicier, as the steep trail was solid ice. We hiked on a cloudy day, no wind, with temps below freezing--perfect weather. If it was sunny, or temps were above freezing, the ice would have been covered with water, and we think it would have been simply too slippery to complete the hike we undertook.

By: Lacy Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 1, 2013
This hike was a HUGE accomplishment for me! I never saw myself climbing up and over rocks - but it was more than worth it! It took me and a buddy about 5 hours to complete the loop, which included stopping at the summit for lunch and to take in the breath-taking views. It was pretty chilly at the start, but as we hiked we warmed up. The summit was quite cool (temperature wise) but hiking back down got the blood flowing again. I would not even call myself a novice hiker. This was the first hike that I have done in years, and my last 'strenuous' hike was to Sharp Top at the Peaks of Otter. If I can do it, anyone can! I highly recommend this hike. But don't rush through it. Take your time and take in all of the views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Hi. I'm looking on tips for hiking Old Rag with Girl Scouts. They are 10-11 years old and all can easily handle Section A of the Billy Goat trail. We went zip lining yesterday and they were awesome. We're hoping to do the hike in the cooler months on a weekday that school's closed with the hope that the crowds are smaller. While I've done tons of hiking, its been a very long time (too long!) since I've hiked Old Rag and would love any feedback or advice. Thanks!

By: Woodley44 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 30, 2013
My 10-year old daughter and I hiked this route the Saturday after Thanksgiving and had a great time. We arrived just before 8AM and were the ~20th car in the lot. Even so, there were only a couple of hikers/groups in our vicinity during the hike and no delays or waiting on the rock scramble. A family ahead of us showed us the ropes on some of the more challenging sections of the rock scramble. Their 7-year-old was a veteran -- hiking the mountain for the second year in a row! Overall it was a delightful day and the rock scramble was super fun. The temperature was in the low 30s at the parking lot and didn't get a lot warmer a we made our way to the top. There was a slight dusting of snow to the sides of the trail as you got to the top. A few sections of the rock were iced over -- but were nothing that you couldn't find a route around. Highly recommend some gloves to keep warm this time of year. Plus...climbing gloves are a big help on the rock scramble.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 23, 2013
Started this hike at 9 a.m. and finished around 2 p.m. with a 40 minute stop for lunch. My 15 year old son and I did this hike at a very fast pace. There was a very cold wind all day, but other than on the summit, the wind was blocked by the mountains on the ascent and descent. Definitely my favorite hike in Shenandoah National Park so far. The crowds were not too bad except for cars completely blocking in our row of cars. Thankfully I was close to the end and was just able to squeeze through. Be careful where you park, there were many cars that were completely blocked in and who knows how long they had to wait to get out. I have a 7 and 6 year old that are great hikers, but this hike is too long for them right now. I would advise against it. The hike from the parking lot, around the trail, and back to the parking lot was a total of 10.6 miles according to my GPS. This actual trail total is 9 miles, but you have to add .8 miles to and from the trailhead.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Recipe for solitude...go on a cold, weekday, in the middle of November... Arrived at the Nethers parking lot a little after 8:AM and reached the upper parking trailhead by 8:30. Not a soul. Beautiful day as it turned out. Sunny with little wind and the chill went away once you started the climb. Saw one other person at the summit. And three more before returning to the parking lot. Great day off with three other colleagues from work. None of them are seasoned hikers but all had a great time, impressed with the hike, and cannot wait to do it again. Not an easy hike by any means, the scrambling takes the monotony out of a typical hike, making it enjoyable than most, because your mind is occupied with something to do, rather than just climbing and climbing up a mountain. Then once you are at the top, you experience one of the greatest views in all of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and certainly the best views in the SNP. Six stars for Views and Five stars for Solitude on this particular hike.

By: pat Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Hiked with a meet up group on Sunday.  Arrived at parking lot just before 10 am and there was line to get into the parking lot but found space.  Our group of 40 got caught in the multitude of hikers with a few longer waits during the rock scramble.  However, we all had a great time in the wonderful Fall sunshine with temps in the high 60s.  We enjoyed a lunch near the top with plenty of space despite the crowds, and lots of opportunities for photos.  Noticed lots of large groups of all ages and families including one young man carrying his baby in a front carrier and one family with small children wearing sneakers.  The hike seems to be popular among foreign visitors as well so clearly a hike that is very well known.  The rock scrambles were quite manageable and even if you're on the shorter side like me, just take your time.  We also saw a small bear near the Byrd's Nest Shelter about 50 yards away over the fire road.  Bear observed us all but stayed high in the brush well away from the hikers.  We got to the parking lot around 4 pm with lots of great memories.

Gloves are handy to avoid scraped palms and improve your grip in some of the tricky spots.  Arriving well before 10 am on the weekend during the Fall is recommended but not absolutely essential if you have patience.  Collapsible hiking poles are also handy for the trail portion but be sure you can secure them on your pack or person during the rock scramble section.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 18, 2013
The wife and I have climbed Old Rat three times in the last 7 weeks....last time was Friday 18 October.  Could not have been nicer
What a great place to get cracking......

By: B Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 18, 2013
Hiked Old Rag yesterday (Friday 10/18/13) with my teenage son.  This was the first time I've been back to Old Rag in about 20 years and while I new it was an amazing hike, it exceeded my expectations yet again.  We made it to the parking lot by around 8:00 AM, hoping to beat the crowds.  While it was a Friday most MD public schools were closed for the day so we weren't sure how crowded it would be.  There were less than 10 cars in the lot when we arrived.  When we returned in the afternoon the lot appeared to be close to full.  The weather was perfect (sunny, low to mid 60's) and we had a blast.  Great hike, took some great pictures and can't wait to go back.  For those that are considering Old Rag for the first time be sure to follow the guidance on this site and the National Park Service site.  Definitely take plenty of food as you'll likely be very hungry when you reach the summit and there are plenty of places to take a lunch break while enjoying the amazing views.  Layers of clothing are also important as the temperature, amount of sun and wind can change often during the hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Great hike! We hiked it on Thursday, Oct. 17 as soon as the government shutdown ended. There were no crowds that day. We saw a young family on the trail and I felt so bad for the little girl who was crying and saying I don't want to do this. This is not a hike for small children! Their son was loving it but I felt bad for the daughter. You know you are in for a hike when you have to walk a mile from your car to the trailhead. I really wish the upper parking area had been open. I don't know why it stays closed. We hiked to Strickler Knob the day before and it is also a great hike.

By: Donelle Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
What a great hike to test your mettle! While I had read and heard about the rock-scrambling up to the peak, nothing really prepared me for it. It was more than I had imagined, and I kept anticipating that at just around the next rock we would have to turn back, that the next crevasse or jump or climb was going to be more than I could handle. But a "turn back" moment never came, and though we were tested, we made it up to the real summit with pure joy and great vistas as our reward. While the govt shutdown is, hopefully, getting ready to end, they are still towing cars that are parked along the road from the lower parking lot up to the upper lot (both lots chained off). We gave a ride to 4 boys from VA Tech whose zipcar was towed, and unlike the post below, they had to go to Madison to get their car out of hock. So park BELOW the lower parking lot, or wait until the shutdown is over. Nothing sorrier than running around wondering where the hell your car went when you're out in the middle of nowhere like that.

By: J&S Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 4, 2013
Just hiked Old Rag today.  It is officially closed and there are signs posting the closure due to the government shutdown in multiple locations however, there are still quite a few people hiking.  The parking lot is closed so many people are parking parallel along the street up to the head of the trail which can be risky.  Be careful, as there are signs posted in some ares along the road up to the trail head that parking is not permitted.  We parked off another road before you get to the main parking lot as did several other people.  Several cars were parked parallel to the main parking lot, too.  We did see a ranger at the end of our hike who was very courteous but reminded us the park was closed and the safety issue of hiking while it is closed.  So on that note, I would strongly suggest that if you decide to hike, BE VERY CAREFUL, should you get hurt, it would be very difficult to get out of the park based on the limited amount of rangers actually working.  Despite the closure, it was a beautiful day and hike.  I would not recommend going alone especially now.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 29, 2013
@Kathy - the upper parking lot has been closed for over ten years, and out of respect for the lucky people who actually get to live there, will always be closed. The amount of cars and complete lack of turn-around space in the small lot have pushed it past capacity.

If you want a real adventure, start at 2 am and hike it for sunrise! With the trail being so crowded, this is the only way I will do this mountain now.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Great hike. I wrote about my experience and posted some pictures here: Can't believe I have lived in Virginia this long without making this hike. Will go again in leaf season!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 21, 2013
I adore this hike! I have done it many, many times before but I have never given a review. The view and geology are unbeatable in my opinion, at least in the mid-Atlantic. I would recommend this hike to anyone who is moderately experienced and willing to devote a day to the hike!

By: David Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
This hike has been on my bucket list for more than 30 years. I did it, it was great. I found the rock scramble very challenging. Sturdy boots with good gripping soles are a must. The key to this hike is having the right amount of snacks and water. I carried an SLR camera for photos, no regrets however I questioned the additional weight several times.

By: Kate-o-mite Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Ever since my husband and I moved to Richmond we've been wanting to hike Old Rag. The sunny forecast and a clear schedule gave us the extra "umph" to wake up at 6:30 am on a Saturday and make the 2 hour drive. When we arrived, I was surprised to find a large and crowded parking lot. There was a long line to pay for parking, but luckily our military national park pass got us through quickly. However we met more lines on the trail ... there were three groups of boy scouts and we got stuck behind one of them at the slide. We had to wait 20 minutes to pass through it. There were loads of people at the top but we managed to find our own perch to eat some snacks and relax. The views were fantastic! We did this hike in 5 hours with stops along the way. Overall it was a challenging hike with amazing views. But I would recommend avoiding hiking on a Saturday. This is also one of the most strenuous hikes I've ever done. My arm muscles are sore from pulling myself up and over boulders. Make sure you wear good hiking boots or shoes with good grip. By the end we were ravenous so we looked for a restaurant on our way back to Richmond and came across "Pie in the Sky Pizzaria" in Madison. Very good pizza and salad and perfect after a long hike! :)

By: Kat Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 8, 2013
This hike has been on my bucket list for almost 15 years and I finally did it!  It was HARD, but I did it.  The trail to the rock scramble was very steep in places and I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, but somone in better physical condition could probably get through it a lot easier.  The rock scramble was extremely challenging, both physically and mentally and there were a couple of times I needed a hand up, but the feeling of pride once I got up/over/under/through to tough spots was worth the challenge!  There were several people hiking near us and they were extremely patient as I tried to get up some really big boulders.  If I do this again, I'm bringing rubberized gardening gloves as my hands were pretty chewed up, and I recommend shoes with a really great grip as some of the rocks are very slippery and there isn't much to hold on to to pull yourself up.  Upper body strength is really helpful (I will be more prepared with that aspect the next time).  The fire road back to the parking lot takes forever, but once you get back to your car and you're in once piece, you can be proud that you did this very difficult hike.  I would not recommend this for new hikers.  Work your way up to this one!

By: AZ Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 9, 2013
My husband and I hiked Old Rag for the second time on Friday, August 9. We are both pretty athletic and active and in slightly better shape than the first time and we were surprised by how easy the rock scramble was the second time around! I'm about 5'2" and I needed a boost a 2-3 times when we did it the first time, but this time, I was able to complete the whole thing without help! The scramble is challenging, but if you have a combination of height, upper body strength, and flexibility, it is very doable. Even if you don't have all these things, you can get by with a boost.

We left the parking lot at noon and were back by 5 PM, with a 20 minute break at the summit. We did see a lot of people on along the way, but never felt like anyone was slowing us down or that we were slowing anyone else down. People were observing good trail etiquette and let us pass when it was clear that we were going faster, and we did the same for others. The fire road went by pretty quickly. We saw hundreds of butterflies along the way.

We each brought a 3 liter Camelbak and consumed about 2 liters each. We also brought rubberized garden gloves, which gave us some extra traction on the rocks.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 4, 2013
Hiked on a perfect Sunday in August with wife and 11 year old son. Left the DC area at 5:15 and departed the parking lot at 7:00 a.m. No crowds, didn't see our first hiker until about 90 minutes into the hike. We went uphill via the Ridge trail and through the rock scramble. My son had no problems getting to the summit and he loved the hike. I would *NOT* recommend taking young children down through the scramble, that would be very difficult as down is harder and more dangerous than up.

Weather was windy at the summit but clear. Maybe 25 people up there when we got there around 10:30. Went down the Saddle Trail to complete the 9 mile loop to the parking lot. Everyone was tired with sore legs, but we did it and had a great day.

By: Matt Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 29, 2013
I hiked the trail with my 9 year-old son, the weather was perfect and the trail was empty. The beginning of the trail was nondescript but cool and in the shade. The rock scramble was amazingly fun, my son enjoyed it immensely and so did I. The views were fantastic at the summit. Overall, the hike equaled or exceeded recent hikes in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada. We did the 10 mile loop, very proud of my son for making it the entire way. Athletic kids with energy can do this hike, just bring some food along for a break at the summit. Advise a weekday hike arriving early in the morning. We were at the parking lot at 8:00am and we were the 4th car in the lot.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 21, 2013
After months of anticipation...the time was finally right to attempt Old Rag and no matter how much I read about it...studied it...dreamt about it...nothing can prepare you for the experience... Thank you Shenandoah National Park...Blue blazes were in the perfect spots on the Ridge Trail and I could not have been more content at the summit... I knew the descent would be lengthy...but having hiked neighboring Corbin Mountain on the 17th...the last couple of miles were familiar enough to keep away the monotony...especially with the beauty and the sound of Brokenback Run... Torrential downpour just before reaching the parking lot and was dazzled at how many people were heading up despite the pouring rain...some things never cease to amaze...Old Rag Mountain is one of them I am sure...

By: Nicole Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 4, 2013
We finished this hike in 3.5 hrs, which included a 15 min. break at the summit to enjoy the vista with a (somewhat) cold beer. We arrived at 7, embarked on the Ridge trail by 7:30, and returned to the car by way of the horse trail by 11. This is a great hike with a super fun rock scramble. Although not particularly challenging, I wouldn't recommend this for young children, the elderly, or anyone not in relatively good shape. The rock scramble in particular had several narrow crevasses that might prove difficult for somewhat not particularly narrow. The horse trail on the descent is somewhat boring and uneventful, so I'd recommend returning by way of the rock scramble to keep the hike interesting.

By: Jeff & Rita Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 29, 2013
The last time my wife and I did this hike was 24 years ago, but only as an out-and-back to the summit. This time, we did the whole circuit, but counter-clockwise. Sensational! We started at 9:00am and finished at about 2:30pm, which included a half-hour break at the summit. If you&rsquore going to do this hike on weekends, you will want to start early and go clockwise up the Ridge Trail to the summit. This is a very popular hike, and the vast majority of hikers ascend that way. Along the one-mile traverse of spectacular rock outcrops that makes this hike so famous are tricky passages through steep crevices that require time to move through. Going counter-clockwise means that you'll be waiting for oncoming traffic to clear through those areas. It was hot and humid on the day we hiked, about 90 degrees, but it felt even hotter through the mile-long section of exposed granite. Make sure to hydrate during the summer on this hike. And enjoy!

By: Joe Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 23, 2013
I'm giving this a five, but I have to warn people... If you are not in the best of shape, don't try this one. I was lucky this only took me 6 1/2 hours. Going up the rock scramble side is an upward hike the entire way. It's one of the most challenging hikes I've done. Now I am just getting into hiking, but I have a feeling this will probably hold the record for a while. It will also hold the record for the most incredible rock formations and views. When I am able to try it again, I'm going to wear better clothes and a much much lighter pack. Food and water is all you really need. Enjoy!

By: Iris Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 15, 2013
A group of nine hikers with different abilities went on Old Rag Mountain. We had a great time climbing to the summit. All through the climb up was exciting and reminded us of our childhood days. Rock climbing was super fun and we did it with the help and guidance of the couple of experienced climbers on the team. The hike up to the point where gravel trail begins (hike down loop) was great. We thought the there was too much of the gravel trail. We enjoyed the stream and cold water in it just before getting back on the paved trail. We took 6.5 hours to complete the hike. The scenery was awesome. We would definitely hike this mountain again.

By: Newbie! Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Awesome Hike Trail! No wonder there are so many good reviews about this place. There were four of us that went up trail. We got there before 8:30 AM and there are not a lot of traffic. The rock climb was the most fun, along with the climb down from the mountain. The forest walk was long and boring but a good break after the long climb and descent.  This trail has some of the most breathtaking views! It's so much to be with a group of friends being challenged. This was my first time going on the trail and I am already planning on returing back.  Next time I would come back through the rocks instead of taking the forest walk. It was a beautiful day for a Hike and there were a lot of hikers on the trail but we didn't feel any delays. If you get to the trail before 9 AM, you should be good to go. We finished in under 7 hours!

By: Scott Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 8, 2013
I planned this hike with a few students awhile back and kept watching weather as it got closer.. When I saw TS Andrea was coming up coast I was almost ready to cancel but I held out and glad I did.. We arrived at parking area bout 9am and not many cars...  About 500 ft up trail we saw 2 bear cubs.. We knew momma was close so kept the guys going but they were excited.. We had one light shower on the climb but sun and deep blue skies broke out and was really a perfect hike day.. We pretty much had mountain to ourselves. most people thought it was going to rain.. even the scrambles were no wait.. The kids had a blast.. Only one, my daughter, had ever did anything like this so it was cool to see their reactions when they saw the views and went thru the scramble.. they were truly in Awe! I love to introduce a new experience.. Thanks for the great day....

By: frank Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
just a terrific hike...arrived at parking lot at 7:00 a.m. ...only two cars there. Based on some reviews I expected to see a trash strewn trail, but happily noticed one plastic water bottle near the summit. Great open views, the rock climb was just great, well worth doing. In general loved the park as a whole...thought it much better than smoky mountain NP ...other than a few hikes in Yosemite and Acadia, Old rag was one of the finest hikes I've ever taken

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 1, 2013
Completed this hike yesterday. We had a group of 8 in different levels of fitness and although we may have taken it slow, we all made it to the summit in about 3.5 hours (2.5 down). The views are amazing all along this hike and I took over 100 photographs as well as a panorama. The rock scramble portion is difficult but if you have a group there shouldn't be an issue. I took 3L of water and ran out about a mile downward from the summit. It was about 91 degrees so it was a hot day for hiking but bring lots of water.

Total hike length from the lower parking lot to the summit and back down the fire road is 9.81 miles (4.7 to summit, 5.1 back to parking) according to my Garmin 610. There were plenty of hikers on the mountain but everyone was friendly and let us pass or passed us without issue. There was also plenty of room in the parking lot (heat may have scared them away).

I took a trash bag to help clean up trash along the trail but I am happy to report that I didn't see much!

Some of my photos -

By: Alan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2013
Great hike. My wife and I took our time and enjoyed the scenery along the way. Took us a total of 7 hours, that included various stops and a light lunch at the summit. This was our first trip to old rag and it was amazing. A little apprehensive at first being 60 years old to scale the rocks. But everything went well. Make sure you pack enough water (at least 2 quarts for each person) also good footwear is a must and a good pair of gloves for the rocks were helpful. It is not an easy hike, but well worth the experience. We were sore for a couple days afterwards.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2013
I am 39 and took my 12 yr old daughter with me to the hike. It was a great and a very memorable experience. The weather was perfect (sunny, 60s, a little too windy at the top though). We took hydration packs (2 lt) for water and used up most of it. We took some energy bars and should have taken some sandwiches like other hikers. It was a holiday weekend Saturday and we got there at 9am. The parking lot had plenty to spaces but was filling up fast. The hike is definitely strenuous but was a lot of fun. We won't forget this father/daughter hike and will probably make this a recurring habit. The rock scramble was a bit tough for us a little scary in places since we don't like heights, but we pulled through it ok. Highly recommend it on a good weather day. Views are spectacular. I found the hike to be pretty challenging but fun.

By: Tired Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
This hike was great and challenging. During the week there are less people and they don't block the passages, but there are still other people in the vicinity in case you get in trouble. The rock-climbing that can be done once you reach the rock scramble is fun and rewards you with some very great views. The walk to the rock scramble was a little long but the scenery was ice there too. Also, bring plenty of water. It was hot today and i only brought 1.5 liters, which was my own stupidity, and i got a little dehydrated on the way back down.

By: No Pain No Gain Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 19, 2013
I'd first like to say that this trail is NOT as difficult as some people make it out to be. I've hiked a few times in my life and while this particular hike was strenuous, it wasn't anything a fit person couldn't handle.

Pros: The scenery is amazing (or so I hear). I went on a foggy day so the views were nonexistent. There was a lot of variety in terms of obstacles and rock formations which was my favorite part. It didn't really get boring until the hike down. You get HIGH up and the air quality is amazing. Trail markers are very easy to follow. A wonderful experience overall.

Cons: Long walk to the trail head (about 1-2 miles). Parking was sparse but we got there early so nabbed a spot. I went on a rainy day but I can imagine on a nicer day the place would be packed. And you'd have to wait a while for everyone to get through some of the smaller passage ways. The hike down was BORING, all gravel and flats. Found trash everywhere.

By: kth Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 18, 2013
I hiked this with my sister and brother, both are in good physical shape and were well prepared to deal with any weather that might have happened. We knew it was going to be a wet day and pack rain gear. I have done several hikes and this is a challenging one. This is one I like to do to get an extra tough work out. We made it to the summit in 2 hours (pretty quick considering the elevation). Overall we completed the hike, including stopping for lunch, in 4.5hours. As you can see, our speed was quick since the hiking upward states it 5.5 hours. It was overcast so we really focused on the actual hike as opposed to the views.

NEGATIVES: I am a huge fan of this hike, but not as much this time. There were many inexperienced hikers/climbers. Some blocked the pathway and were irritated when we nicely asked if we could pass. We found a gallon jug of pee right off the main path. Human feces behind one of the old stone foundations off the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. Obviously people don't understand the phrase "leave no trace'. Take your tissues, waste, and bottles with you when you leave. There are trash receptacles at the parking lot.

TIPS: The upper parking lot is permanently closed. Be prepared to walk a bit before you begin your ascent. Get there before 9am if you want to park in the lot. Be prepared to pay $15 cash per car for parking. Bring 1.0 - 1.5 liters of water with you on a cool day, 2 liters on a warm day. Watch the weather and pack appropriately. We saw some girl wearing SANDALS to hike. What the heck was she thinking?! Rocks become very slippery when they are wet.

OVERALL: I will do this hike again for the muscle challenge.

By: T Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 10, 2013
My wife and I have been wanting to hike Old Rag for years and we were not disappointed.  We arrived at the lower parking area at 9:00AM to only a handful of cars.  The fee station was manned and the ranger was very helpful and knowledgeable about the mountain.  It was $15 for our car, so we just ended up buying the Shenandoah annual pass for $30, since we plan to hike other mountains and visit Skyline Drive this fall.  Now to the hike:

It was a .8 mile walk from the car to the trailhead entrance and we chose to run this portion as we are avid trail runners.  The first hour of the hike consisted of steady and constant elevation gain on hardpacked dirt trails with 8-9 switchbacks.  The trail crossed a beautiful rushing mountain creek/river several times and the constant sound of rushing water was very peaceful.  The rock scramble is where the fun really began.  This consisted of about a mile or so of constant rock climbing, boulder hopping, and weaving and squeezing our way through various rock formations.  We absolutely LOVED this section of the hike!  Just before we reached the summit, we passed a no-joke rattlesnake just off the edge of the trail so be careful and stick to the marked path!  It took us about 2 hours to get to the summit where we climbed the highest rock to take a little rest.  The views from the top are breath-taking!  The hike back down is just over 5 miles and, like some other reviewers said, is much less inspiring.  We chose to run portions of the downhill that were not too rocky.  The last 2-3 miles was literally walking down a hard packed dirt/gravel road back to the trail entrance, which got a little boring after awhile.  However, make sure to stop by the rushing creek on your left hand side which was cold and refreshing and absolutely beautiful!  We finished the hike in about 3.5 hours, from parking lot to mountain climb and back, with about 20-30 mins of total stoppage time.  All things considered, the rock scramble was so fun and the views were awesome which made up for that last stretch on the backside of the mountain.  Some tips for your hike:

1.  Bring LOTS of water and some salty/carby snacks:  I brought a 100ounce camelbak which I thought would be enough for both of us and we still ran out of water about 90% of the way through the hike.  We brought things like pretzels, nature valley bars, etc which really helped to keep us going.

2.  Wear sturdy(ier) shoes:  your Nike Frees are not gonna cut it.  The rock scramble involves some pretty serious climbing, jumping, and ability to grip boulders that are at a pretty serious angle, etc

3.  I would not suggest doing this for your first hike if you are not accustomed to long uphill hiking or have bad knees.  Also, the front portion would not be very kid friendly.  I did see people taking the backside of the mountain up to the top to avoid the rock scramble and intense elevation gain portions, and this was definitely more do-able for kids, older folks, knee problem, etc.

4.  Bring a camera!

By: Jane Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 5, 2013
I'm not an experienced hiker, I have hiked regularly for only about 10 months.  We went on a Sunday, arrived around 830. The parking lot was half empty. When we came back to the parking, it was almost filled up. So it's a good idea to get there early.  It took us 6.5 hours for the hike,  stayed1 hour on the summit. I love this hike, it has some difficult spots, where you need to use your arms more than expected, but it was also fun. There are a lot of friendly hikers offer to help if needed. I enjoyed every bit of it.  Going down is a little boring, but after all the rock climbing and hoping, I don't mind taking an easy hike.   I would not recommend first time hiker comes by himself/herself.    

The view is great. I will come back again.

By: Trish Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 3, 2013
I am a novice hiker. The major extent of my hiking has been the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls, MD. The rock scramble of this hike is comparable to that and super fun. BUT, getting to the rock scramble and then back down is HARD. Walking up hill for miles is not what I consider fun. After the rock scramble and being completely exhausted I was faced with a 5.1 mile walk back. At least it was downhill, but after awhile of that it was very tiring. By the time we got back to the trail head, and still faced the road walk back to the parking lot, everything from my waist down hurt.

I have to say, I am glad I did it and I'm glad it's over! The views at the top are amazing and worth the hike. We got to the parking lot at 8:30am on a Friday morning and got back to the car at 1:10pm. I can't imagine doing this hike when it is crowded though.

By: P Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 28, 2013
@ Hikerbella. I have to agree with M. I don't like the hike very much either. My major issue is not with the views. The views are great- not the best in the world but they are very nice. My issue is that the trail is in several cases excessively dangerous because of the erosion that all the hiking has done to the rocks in critical parts of the trail. I would encourage the Park Service to realize this- I have complained before- and create ways to make this a little more realistic for experienced hikers, much less even the average person.

Ive hiked easily more than 200 times. I am not inexperienced hiker- but I have to say that Old Rag was by far and away the most dangerous hike that I have done because of the wear of the rocks. If you are someone that isn't experienced- Old Rag is not the hike to try the first time. Go to others first- Signal Knob, Mcafee Knob, Overall Run, High Knob Big Schloss... etc. Get some experience under your belt before you go so that you are concious of the hazards of a hike like this one. Even with a lot more than what I've said before, when I got to the rocks, you still aren't really prepared for it. In some places its closer to rock climbing than hiking.

The other issue that I have with this hike is that the tail end of it is UNBELIEVABLY boring. After you get to past the side overlooks, which are anti-climactic after the 360 degree views, you are basically walking in the woods until the end. (at least another couple of hours.) A lot of people run down once they get to the roads. Every time I do this hike by about halfway back down I want to punch myself for doing it again. I don't know why this hike repeatedly gets 5 stars. Yes the views are great but there are other places just as good and open- and not as dangerous or long and boring at the end!

By: HL Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 28, 2013
THIS IS A DIFFICULT HIKE! I think people who have hiked a couple times and see those words, don't necessarily take those words seriously. But I am here to tell you YES, THIS IS A DIFFICULT HIKE. it is not for the novice hiker. The reason I love this hike so much is because I am a rock climber and lost of the rock scrambles makes me feel like I am rock climbing at times. It challenges me and I like that. It uses all parts of my body and muscles I don't get to use on a daily basis. The views are nice but not the best in the world but they are beautiful. As the reviewer mentioned below, that descent down to the parking lot is not the most exciting. But after the rock scrambles, I am ready for a nice stroll back down to my car so I don't mind the stroll through the woods at the end. I like the "rest" of the downhill hike before my long drive back home. This trial does get crowded so the earlier you go the better. However sometimes I like to wait everyone out, let them all get up the mountain then start my hike later. The only problem with this is making sure you are down before dark.

By: M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
I am a woman in their mid 30's and consider myself pretty fit.  I walk large distances daily.  I read reviews about this trail and knew it was going to be hard.  Hard is an understatement .  This hike is extremely difficult.  There were parts that I wouldn't have been able to make if it wasn't for my husband pulling me up.  Even with his helping hand, it was difficult to maneuver some of the boulders.  There was a 12 foot drop in between a narrow passage, large boulders you had to lift up and over without a stepping stone to help you, and places where you had to leap from boulder to boulder and if you didn't make it, you would have fallen 12+ feet down in between the boulders.  The rocks are slippery (it was not due to rain).  The hike took us 9 hours round trip from the parking area.  This included about an hour worth of stops and the fact that we had to hike 15 minutes back up the mountain to offer first aid help to someone who had fallen and injured themselves badly.  If you decide to do this, bring snacks, food, water, a first aid kit and a light incase you don't make it down the mountain before dark.  I would also recommend wearing gloves (my hands got worn raw from the rocks).  Also, there are many "false" summits.  Just when you think you reached realize you didn't.  I have hiked many trails in this park and I was disappointed when I reached the summit.  I felt other trails I have hiked offered better views.  I wouldn't do this trail again, but am glad to say I survived it.

By: Hikerbella Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
@M:  Disappointed with the views? Could you have been one of the many people who get to the summit sign and keep on going to the Saddle Trail, not realizing the true summit (with nonstop views) is but 50 feet or so to the right of the sign? There is an arrow on the summit sign pointing to the summit that, unfortunately some people overlook.

By: PKH Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
My son (11 y.o.) and I hiked Old Rag for the first time. It was exactly as described.
We arrived at the parking lot at 7:15 and it was already filling up. Saw a large group of kids get started right ahead of us and waited a while. Took off and hardly saw anyone on the switchbacks up to the start of the rock scramble, where we had to wait for others to get through the more difficult spots a few times. Lots of friendly folks offering help and encouragement for my son.
Arrived at the (somewhat crowded) summit, stayed there for about 1/2 hr enjoying the beautiful views and took off again down to the fire road.
Arrived back at the parking lot after about 6 hrs. Wonderful hike and a great father / son experience.
I would certainly not recommend this hike for younger kids, though.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 25, 2013
My boyfriend and I climbed this mountain on a Thursday starting at 3:30 in the afternoon.  THE mountain was ours! I live near the trail head but only climb a few times a year. For an ADVID hiker( People who hike every weekend)  his is not a difficult trip.   9  hours for OLD RAG indicates you are not as in good shape as you think.  My boyfriend and I did the hike in 5 hours. (Some may say that is slow.)    This is not a starter hike.  I really wish people who don't hike think about their decisions to climb this mountain. It is about a 8 mile hike.

Summer is coming so this mountain can be very dangerous.  Bring at least 3 liters of water PER person when it is hot.  I have seen people with a 16 oz water bottle...please use common sense.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 13, 2013
My Family hiked Old Rag last weekend. Even after I reviewed the many comments and videos I was skeptical that our family would be able to conquer this challenge while having fun.

We chose to take the Blue Route first. There were ups and downs through the rock challenge, mostly ups, but it was fun and a workout. The thing I liked the most was even if we found ourselves at a point we couldn't make it there was always someone around to help if necessary. There was one person in our group that needed a hand. At the end of the hike I asked that person had you been by yourself could you have done it alone, the answer was no. The beauty is if the person had to turn back they would have made it. Had the person needed help it was everywhere.

The seclusion was hit and miss, but for the most part it was quiet when it needed to be and loud at times. People were respectful and that's all that mattered. Our families favorite part of the trip was a group of older gentlemen who I didn't think would get past the rock scramble. In the end, they made it to the summit and proved this hike takes endurance but heart will also carry you.

One thing I did notice is as we started down the mountain and made our way to the yellow part of the hike the incline was steep and tough on my wife's knees of course it just meant a slower decent. The only thing that I kept in the back of my mind was had we started this direction we would have hated the hike. We would have hated the hike because it would have required a more difficult hike without the rock scramble and most of the rock scramble would have been downhill. Believe me the rock scramble is much more fun starting from the Blue side.

This hike is fun. The scenery is amazing (we will do again in the fall when the leaves change). Even if you're not in the best shape but have a big heart you can pull through in time. We completed the hike in 6 hours with an hour lunch. By the time we finished our lunch the old timers made it to the summit and it all downhill and easy walking from there.

Here is a video I hope y'all can enjoy .

By: T.J. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Hiked Old Rag for the first time with a few friends who'd done it 5+ times.. absolutely amazing experience. No doubt, the first 1.9 miles are the worst, but the minute you reach your first viewpoint every ounce of sweat you lose climbing those satanic switchbacks is worth it. The rock scramble is difficult, however, I wouldn't consider myself in the BEST shape and I didn't have any problems. I did leave with a few scrapes and bruises on my legs from the rocks, but if you're in the wilderness that's somewhat expected! Don't go too far down the reviews on this page, as many of them state there is an abundance of trash on the trails... this is simply not true now. The only litter I viewed was gatorade bottles that some imbeciles had nonchalantly tossed into a few crevices... The hike was crowded today, but for me and my friends it was fun to socialize with people we'd never met and help them up the difficult parts of the rock scramble. I'd HIGHLY recommend this hike to ANYONE :) So much fun! Bring PLENTY of water and maybe a few hydrating drinks (gatorade,powerade,etc... just don't litter them!!) and you'll be fine. Currently, the trail is icy/snowy at places and extremely muddy (especially on the way down), but if you're careful you should have no problem. ENJOY!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Saturday April 6, 2013 was my first official day to start hiking and I decided to hit Old Rag Mountain alone.  I always enjoy the peace that hiking brings.  I started the hike around noon and took more than enough snacks to guarantee a good doze of energy when needed.  I could not have asked for a better to hike and the timing was perfect.  There were not that many people along the trail and I was able to move up fast through the rock scrambler.  A well earned nap was taken at the top and then made my way down :)

Good times...

By: WanderingPineapple Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 5, 2013
For any pregnant gals thinking of going up Old Rag as there aren't many testimonials that i could find online... My husband and I hiked Old Rag, both for the first time, while I was almost six months pregnant. I have been rock climbing for several years now, so it was doable, but I was glad to have my husband there to lend me a hand and to spot me now and then as I am about 17 pounds heavier than normal and not as flexible as I was a few months back. There were a couple of places along the ridgeline near the summit that require short leaps between boulders. those were for me the scariest parts so don't attempt if you aren't comfortable with that kind of thing. For one of them, i found a place with decent handholds and climbed up, and the other i jumped after some encouragement from my husband. i also had to go much more slowly on the way up because, although i used to run pretty regularly, my cardiovascular strength isn't what it used to be. And coming down we went slowly to minimize any joint pain. Hubs also carried the backpack, while I went unencumbered (sort of). So, Old Rag is doable while pregnant if you're in reasonably good shape already, have a supportive partner ( I do not recommend doing this solo while pregs bc of the rock scrambling), and are fine with taking your time. i also went into it with no expectation of finishing--that it would be totally okay to quit at any point since other things are more important... We finished in six hours (from the car in the main parking lot and back), including snack and water stops (those were key!). Slept for about 10 hours and calves a bit stiff the next morning, but no other effects. Baby still kicking away. :)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Two 48 year olds and a teenager (all non-hikers) had a fabulous day. We headed out of the lower parking lot at noon. I was concerned that we started too late, would get lost after dark, freeze, need a rescue team, and be on the evening news. Nevertheless, we enjoyed perfect hiking conditions of full sunshine, 40' air temps with 10 to 20 mile an hour winds, depending on what part of the mountain we were on. We followed the blue trail all the way up. We were confused about how to enter the crevice with the twelve foot drop. We spent at least ten minutes looking for different entrances.Two other groups of hikers also were not sure how to cotinue at that spot and tuned back while we were there. You just have to climb in. We were "over thinking it." I'm glad we came together, because we helped each other out in several tight spots by handing back packs up, pulling somebody up slippery, round rocks, etc. After the Summit - Yeah Baby, We were stoked! - we went down the blue "Saddle" trail followed by the yellow "Weakley" Fire Road to the car before 6:00pm. The sun was still up. We didn't get lost. There is still some snow and ice at the top, but everyone was warm enough, having taken a layer or two off within half an hour of hiking. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Me, my mom and my two boys, ages 6 and 10, all had a fabulous hike on good old Old Rag Mountain. My boys went up for the very first time and kicked that mountain's butt. We're all pretty experienced hikers and are preparing for a 5 day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon next month, so figured the elevation gain on Old Rag would be good practice. My mother and I had hiked it before (but I hadn't been up in almost 20 years) and thought it was high time the boys had some fun up there too.

We got a late start (12:30pm) and made it to the summit in about 5 hours with my 6-year-old's short legged pace keeping us slow but pretty steady. We also were slow due to having to frequently take off ours and the kids packs, hoist them up, hoist the kids up, and then get ourselves up many of the boulder scramble parts. The kids thought it was one of the coolest hikes they'd ever done and we were all super excited to check out the view from the top. I'm sure there's been other young kids up there, but I told my youngest that he might - just might - be one of the youngest kids to ever make it up all on his own. :)

We hiked back down and were very glad we'd decided to play it safe and park a car at Berry Hollow so we could shorten the hike in case the kids were overly exhausted. While they were dragging a bit by the time we reached the car, it was the impending night that had us the most worried (though we had headlamps and plenty of layers just in case). We made it to the Berry Hollow parking lot at 7:45pm just as the sun was setting, making a total of 7.25 hours for the shortened version of the hike with two young kids. I highly recommend this parking situation if you are doing this with kids and can do two cars, it cuts a couple miles off the long boring fire-road walk back to the main parking lot and when you have kids with you they don't do well being tired AND bored - its a sure fire way to trigger complaining!

Still some icy patches up there, especially on the downward side of the mountain, and pretty muddy in some places, but mostly the trail is clear and the rocks are mostly ice-free. We plan to go again one more time in late April before we leave for our Grand Canyon trip so we can see the scenery as it starts to green up (and to get some more elevation practice in too!). Hopefully it will be a little warmer out too so we can pack less backpacks full of warm clothes. Can't wait to do it again!

By: Cait Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I though that this would be a nice, long day hike to take during a day off from work during spring break. Nobody could come with me so I went alone. I figured it would be strenuous but doable, a nice scenic climb with some rocks thrown in.

I had NO IDEA what I was in for! I had heard of Old Rag and researched it minimally online before going, but nothing could have prepared me for what was in store. I had done a bit of rock scrambling on Billy Goat Trail on the C&O canal and that was a paltry cake walk compared to the bouldering expedition I went on to get to the summit of Old Rag. So I knew it was going to be a fairly long and strenuous hike with some rock scrambling. I did not expect it to be so precarious. There are several "false summits" and to get to the true summit you have to do about an hour of scrambling/bouldering. It is very high up (like a mountain or something...) and at times it felt like I was about to fall over the edge! Additionally, there was still a fair bit of snow persisting on the mountain, which made the already scary and dangerous rocky portion even scarier. On the descent, there was lots of snow and it was a foot deep in some place, which wasn't physically difficult but it was also scary to think that just one wrong move, you hurt yourself and can't walk and you're STUCK!

Overall it was an amazing experience, I just had totally underestimated the climbing. It definitely threw me for a loop combined with the snowmelt, but I can't wait to go back and tackle it again- with a friend- when it's nice and warm out! I was lucky enough to meet some friendly, experienced hikers who let me tag along and showed me how to get over the rocks. If not for them I might still be up there! :) Going up there alone is a BAD, bad idea! Hiking alone is dangerous anyway but this one especially!

The views are absolutely incredible and if you know what you're getting in to this is a really fun way to spend the day. It's gorgeous up there even in early March.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Just completed one line of my "short bucket list" events since retirement on the last day of Jan. 2013. My last climb to the top was when my two sons were in middle school (now they are 28 and 26 yrs of age). At my age of 57 I had some reservations as how far I would make it, yet the determination and a desire to "defeat" the mountain kept me on the trail to the summit. I took the Weakley Hollow road to the top and returned by way of the Scramble route. Temperature made it to mid-40'F with nearly 100% clear skies. What a great way to spend 6 hours on a great trail.

By: David Williams Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 3, 2013
A snowy Superbowl Sunday.  Those two events would surely keep all sane people at home, safe and secure and out of this crazy weather.    I was very surprised to see other hikers out.   Isn't that great.   Son and I had a blast and about a third of the way through the rock scrambles opted to swallow our pride and turn around with life and limb intack.   This hike is a challenge in the best of weather, but my cargo was simply too precious to risk (i.e. son).   But as far as the scenery, views, condition of trail, etc...   OUTSTANDING.   There is a reason this mountain is so popular.   If you've debated a winter hike but have never done one.   I can tell you, that we were down to base layers in no time and having to slow pace to prevent sweat.   Give it a go, beats the humid Summer trips.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The weather was unseasonably warm today so I decided to take a day and finally do this hike. I went by myself (would not recommend) and only saw 2 other people all day long. I took my time on the scrambles the rocks were wet from all the ice and snow. Parts of the trail were still icy. It is challenging. I would not recommend children or dogs at all. Even being a little short made some of the jumps a bit intimidating. At one point I went around and found another way up and over because I didn't want to jump. Another thing I would have done differently was bringing my big pack. I pack containing just my camera, lunch, hammock, water and a jacket hung me up in some spots that were already tight. I had to throw my pack ahead and then climb to it numerous times. I also missed the little turnoff inside the cave and had to retrace back to the last blaze. Gotta watch them! Over all so much fun, nice feeling of accomplishment at the amazingly beautiful summit. Next time I'll park my bike beforehand at the fire road as well.

By: Dave & Curt Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Great hike! The trail and the rocks were very slippery and icy due to the snow the previous day. As a matter of fact, there were snow flurries when we started. We dressed in layers and it wasn't long before we were both down to our T-shirts, gloves and hats. I was glad I wore nylon running pants since sliding and scooting on snow covered rocks was required for me to get through the scrambles. I was also glad I had brought a pair of Yaktrax to help with the snowy/icy trail. We saw a few people on the trail but overall, it was very quite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 19, 2013
started at  8:00 AM - 22 degrees - had the trail mostly to ourselves - I'd heard good things about this hike and along with grandson (23) son-in-law (38) this 69 year old  had a great day here - rock scramble is similar to but not as long as Katahdin in Maine - I agree you should be in reasonably good shape to make this an enjoyable experience - I will return!

By: HeidiBadger Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Day started foggy and rainy...was having doubt about the conditions and if we should go...also went by the review from Friday's hiker.  Arrived at lower parking lot just before 9am and there were about 20 cars in the lot.  About an hour into the hike we got above the cloud line and the rest of the hike up to the summit was warm and sunny...several other hikers in shorts and tanks.  No ice or snow on the trail but some parts were a little wet.  We definitely overdressed.

Definitely NOT a crowded day for Old Rag...most of the time, we were by ourselves.  Got a hand a couple different times over some of the more challenging rock scrambles and climbs from fellow hikers.

Had lunch at the summit in the sun and amazing weather.  Clouds made the mountains, valleys below look like they were snow covered.  I think there were probably less than 30 other people at the top. 

Definitely a challenging hike, but felt so energized (at least mentally) at the end of the day.

By: ORMS Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 11, 2013
From Shenandoah National Park:
"Even with the recent warm weather, both the ridge and saddle trails on Old Rag remain ice covered, along with most trails in the park. Hikers should be prepared for very icy and slippery conditions on several miles of the trail. Traction devices designed for winter hiking are highly recommended. Remember to always carry a flashlight, map and extra food and water as winter hiking can take much longer than one might expect!" ORMS is NOT on the mountain in the winter.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, January 1, 2013
I got to the parking lot at 5:20am.  To my surprise there were 6 cars already there.  I hit the road at 5:30 and began the trek upward.  It was very cold and was icy the whole way up.  With the amount of snow it was easy to see where I was going.  I didn't encounter anyone till the opening of the rock scramble.  1 person was heading back and the other turned back right shortly after him.  Looking back now I probably shouldn't have done the hike alone due to the icy conditions, but overall enjoyed the challenge of climbing through the ice and snow.  I got to the summit a little after sunrise and found around 20 people already there!!  I can only assume they came up the firebreak trail on the back side.  Overall the climb was a challenge and it was a great way to start the New Year.  Due to weather hike with a friend for safety and have the right gear.  Still a great hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Old Rag is a different kind of beast when it has a decent snow/ice pack. I'd estimate everything from barely an inch to a good foot, complete with snow bridges between some boulders. The upper 500' of the mountain had a good half inch of ice in the trees, must have been a heck of an ice storm up there.

Nearly everybody I saw had no form of snow/ice protection at all. As a result, I only saw a few people after the first major obstacle, the "Entrance Crack" on the first outcrop. It was nice to have the summit area to myself. I wore my microspikes up the Ridge Trail, but switched-out to crampons and walking axe for the scramble.

It was a real treat to have the upper half of the mountain almost to myself with alpine conditions.

By: Altitude Amigos Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Great hike in SNP, one of the best views you can get in the Mid-Atlantic. We did this early on a cloudy near-winter Sunday morning after a rain, great recipe for solitude on this hike. We probably saw only a dozen people before we hit the fire road on the way back, really opened up the hike for us. It's much easier to navigate and explore without the crowds, which are often all over Old Rag. On a wet day like that, it's especially great to not have a crowd- you can take your time when necessary and not have to wait on people ahead of you. We started from the parking lot around 8:30am, got back in the car around 1, including a few stops for views and a lunch break at the top. This hike is a very good workout, you'll feel it the next day. Be prepared for a little of everything on this hike. There's uphill walks, scrambling, rock hopping, a bit of climbing, squeezing into tight spaces, and even some crawling. Other thoughts: would not recommend doing this after rain or snow- lots of very slick rocks can be very dangerous. Can only imagine what it's like when there's ice... Even on a cloudy day, the views are still great. We could still see lots of  other mountains and ridges popping up through lower clouds, a really neat effect... Make sure to bring plenty of water and food, you're going to need it. Overall, great hike, great time, we'll do it again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 6, 2012
I hiked Old Rag this morning for the 20th something time, but it felt like an entirely new experience.  I left the parking lot at 5am under a half moon and clear skies.  I made it to the trail head without any light, but quickly had to switch on my headlamp to see the blazes... having hike this trail so many times, going in the dark it became an entirely new trail.  I hit the scramble around twilight, and it was like I was just transported to the lunar surface (but not really).  At first I was thinking this was a terrible idea, but the scramble was no problem in the darkness.  I made it to the summit in time to see the sunrise, and for the first time ever I did not encounter a sole until I hit the head on the way down.  Crazy awesome!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
This was a great hike. It was all we had hoped. I am 55 and my friend that went with me 60. The switchback up to the summit was great. Not too steep. The scramble was challenging, but very doable. I felt the workout on my upper body the following day. I am a 5'4" female and needed a little boost in 2 spots and jumping down from a few spots was a little bit jarring on my old knees We really enjoyed this part of the hike. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy going the hike down Saddle Trail and Weakley Hollow Road were. I expected it to be be steep. The temp was perfect, probably about 55. I would say this is a moderately strenuous hike. We did it in 6 hours, but we played on the summit a lot and took our time through the scramble to take in the views and to be safe. There were just a few minor wet spots and they were slick. I would not attempt this hike at all in wet or icy conditions, though the more adventurous might, I am not that brave due to a slight fear of heights. Happy to have followed the recommendation to go on a weekday. We saw others, but not crowds and no waiting and times of complete solitude. I will do this hike again. I think late spring would be beautiful.

By: Brett Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Amazing hike.  There is a great variety of challenges to climb between the rock scrambles and slopes and formations.  It is truly an amazing treasure to have in Virginia.  Plenty of Vistas to keep you happy and invigorated the entire time.

By: C Dawg Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 10, 2012
This remains one of my absolute favorites. One could see the aftermath of Sandy with trees uprooted and lying on the path. Snow had almost melted. I started the hike at around 7 am and was back by noon. There were not plenty of people since I was early. I saw the least amount of hikers this time around. I've been to Old Rag a few times. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I sat at the top of the peak and absorbed the view. There was no wind at all and the sun was breaking through the clouds. It was heavenly.

As everyone before has said, take plenty of water and something to eat. Even on this cool November day, I used up nearly 1.5 L of water. Also, rock scrambling can be challenging and unsafe if you are not mentally/physically prepared.

By: chris driver Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 10, 2012
This was a great trail and had some amazing views. The trail starts off pretty easy with an uphill hike on a rocky path, then when you get to the rock scrambling it gets a little challenging bc you have to climb down and around and up huge boulders. The trail is designed well and there are arrows to point you into the right direction so don't be afraid of some of the obstacles you might run into. Although dogs are prohibited, I brought my dog (4 year old boxer) and getting her pass the rock scrambling was a true challenge. There were many instances where I had to pick her up and carry her over some dangerous rock scrambling but with help from some fellow hikers, we were successful in safely finishing the trail. The worse part was walking the fire trail back to the parking lot. It was almost 2 hours and it was dark so it felt endless. I would not recommend this trail for young kids, animals, older folks or out of shape folks. Overall it was an amazing trip. ( HU Note: Reminder, Old Rag is one of a handful of trails in Shenandoah NP where pets are prohibited. Here is the link for the others: )

By: E. George Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 9, 2012
My husband and I hiked this trail for the first time in 30 years! I was determined to make the hike again before we got too old. At ages 55 and 60, we might have been pushing it...but what a blast! We started out around 10:30 a.m. and were back by 4:30. Probably could have done it a little faster, but I suffered leg cramps in the scramble (should have hydrated in advance!). There weren't too many people being a Friday, but we did pass a school group of about 25 kids and adults. The weather was fantastic, the rocks just as challenging and "fun" as I remember...but maybe a little more slick from time, wear and tear. Definitely would NOT do this in rain, snow or ice. Preparation is critical. Take plenty of water, food/protein/energy bars, wear hiking shoes and allow plenty of time. Also, don't attempt if you are out of shape. (We do a lot of three and four mile hikes, so we were somewhat prepared.) And, it takes a lot of upper body strength to pull yourself up, under, over and through the rocks. But what a thrill and what a great way to experience nature.

By: John M Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I think I've hiked this trail somewhere between 15 - 20 times in my life time. I love it. Views are excellent, the rocks on the ridge trail are fun and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. Since I started hiking it as a kid years ago, I've seen some slight changes, but nothing major. One thing that comes to mind is the natural stairs the trail goes up where one has to slide under the boulder to get past. Many might not know, but that boulder wasn't always there. I remember hiking one time and seeing a group of men pushing on that boulder when it was on top of the rocks above the stairs. That was years ago though. Another noticeable change includes the beginning part of the Ridge Trail being re-routed.

I hiked it on a Tuesday with my 9 yr old daughter in order to avoid crowds and saw 20 other hikers at most. She enjoyed the rocks in the upper part of the Ridge trail, but like most kids wasn't too excited about hiking the ridge trail up until the rocks.

For those looking to camp, I thought there were several good sites. I've camped in the area along the ridge trail (just before the rock scramble) and thought it was a good area because it's proximity to the rocks. Makes for good star-gazing at night and starting the rocks 1st thing in the morning is good. Other good areas include sites just out of site of the Byrds Nest shelters, for the water. The lower Byrds nest has a privy. The upper Byrds Nest has rocks I used to love to climb as a kid and are still good to sit out with a good view.

I haven't found anything I've had as much fun as the rocks on the ridge trail but am still looking. 

By: Carri Michon Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 5, 2012
Our family hiked this trail for the first time today.  What a fantastic hike!  Since we had boys ages 8, 11 and 13 with us, of course the "Rock Scramble" section was the family favorite. We are a very active, outdoor family so the boys were nimble enough for the difficult rock climbing section of the trail.  I wouldn't recommend the hike for younger children or those who spend more time indoors than outside being physically active.  Also, we did the entire loop, parking lot to parking lot in 6 hours but didn't leave our car to start the hike until noon.  With the dimishing daylight, we were in dusk the final mile back to the car (It was 7.5 miles total).  If hiking during daylight savings time, head out by 11:00 am or earlier to insure you get back before dark. 

By: pdudley Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 27, 2012
Two ascents, with polar opposites in weather, but lots of pictures to give an idea of what to expect in varying conditions on the summit. ASCENT 1 had beautiful clear skies, low lying fog and morning tints of color. Honestly, one couldn't wish for a better day than this on the summit. ASCENT 2 had slight drizzle, summit shrouded in clouds, and a slippery scramble section, making for a picturesque creepy late October day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Hiked early Thursday morning starting at 8:30. Great hike that most anyone in good shape can do. My wife decided to hike it with me at the last minute and did fine. Needed help in a couple of spots though. The leaves were for the most part in peak though a few areas past peak . Great time of year to go . Temp in mid 50s at start and getting to mid 60s by end. In cooler weather carry one liter per person and in hotter weather double that. Took us a little less than 5:00 with wife wantiing to stop for rest and take pictures. This should be about right for most folks (5 hours) . Would do again next time up that way. A nice little bed and breakfast called Sharp Rock Vineyard and Farms is the closes place to stay which we did only a mile or so away which made it easy for a early start. He can even drop you off at the upper parking lot if you want and save yourself .9 of mile walk.

By: wjackowski Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 21, 2012
The hike was great and  the weather was perfect, but lost my camera at the end.  I belive it fell off just as we got back to the parking area.   I am offering a reward if anyone should find it.  It is an old cannon camera in a soft black carrier.  It is not worth much but has a lot of sentimental pictures on it.   My email address is

By: BLG Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Beautiful today, one of the best outdoor experiences I've had. I can't urge strongly enough to be walking by 7:30 (though that meant getting up at 4:45AM for me today) at the latest to avoid crowds in peak seasons. You don't want to be caught in line at a crevasse or single file rock scramble like this is Disney World.

Also, pack light, some people had way too much stuff to scramble on the rocks effectively. My group did the hike in 5 hours and got back right at lunch time. Instead of carrying lunch up, next time I'd only bring maybe 1.5L of water and a snack.

Highly recommended.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 19, 2012
We hiked Old Rag for the first time this past Friday, October 19. I consider myself a relatively adept hiker, and I am glad that I have some decent hiking experience under my belt. I would definitely not recommend this hike to beginners. We arrived at the parking lot early-8:15am-and there were only a handful of cars there. It was quite overcast, but we thought that the fog would burn off relatively quickly (it didn't!). The start of the hike was quite peaceful-we were basically by ourselves. It was a fairly easy uphill through several switchbacks and our stops were minimal. We quickly caught up to two groups of hikers that had started ahead of us, but they were the only other people we encountered. We entered the first rock scramble and I found it to be pretty challenging (unaware of what was to come!) but I managed to get through relatively easily. My husband did offer me a hand in a few of the more steep/challenging scrambles, and I'm not sure how I would have managed without him. We came to the first overlook (unfortunately it was still fogged in) and talked to a woman who told us we still had a ways to go with more difficult challenges ahead of us. We continued up the mountain and encountered more challenging scrambles/climbs, but, again, with the help of my husband, I was able to manage them without much difficulty. There were a couple of areas that were slick, due to the previous evening's rain showers and the inability of the sun to break through that never-ending fog! We reached the top and waited a solid 45 minutes for the fog to clear but it didn't, and reluctantly, we headed back down via the Saddle Trail and fire road. Total hiking time was 2.5 hours to the top and just under 2 hours back down. My suggestions-bring plenty of water-we had 3 liters with us and drank almost all of it, on a cool day. If you need to bring a pack, bring a smaller pack. I had a larger pack with me and there were a few times that I had to remove it and hand it up to my husband in order to maneuver around a tight pass. Wear good, sturdy shoes and comfortable hiking pants. Layer, layer, layer! When we were at the top of the mountain, waiting for the fog to lift, it was very chilly, especially since we were no longer exerting ourselves at that point. I enjoyed this hike immensely. It I hope to do it again-hopefully on a clear day so I can enjoy the views from the top.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Old Rag did not disappoint it was everything I hoped for and then some! Furthermore, it was a perfect Fall day to go hiking. In preparation for the hike, I suggest looking at some videos on YouTube. There is especially one video ("Old Rag Boulder Scramble Part Two") taken using a head camera, which gives a good first-hand perspective of what to look forward to and how to navigate the rock scramble. But don't let this psych you out because the hike is worth it.

My sister and I started around 11:30am. There were not a lot of people, probably due to our later start time and because it was the middle of the week. The hike up to the rock scramble on Ridge Trail was nice. We took a break at this flat rock outlook (great view!) before we started the rock scramble. I suggest taking breaks for water and food when needed and really enjoying the amazing scenery throughout the hike, which offers views comparable to those of the summit. The rock scramble is definitely challenging, but doable. It requires you to be agile and sure-footed to maneuver through narrow passages and bounding over cracks from one boulder to another. In certain spots, my sister (who is shorter than me) had a little trouble reaching from one rock to another. But this is where a hiking buddy comes in handy!

The hike back down on Saddle Trail and subsequently Weakley Hollow Fire Road was much welcomed, as we were tired and achy. Also, there were cute streams and bridges to cross near the end of the fire road. The next day you might feel muscles that you didn't even realize you were using, so it would be nice to have another day off from work, school, etc. to rest and recover. I will definitely be hiking Old Rag again in the future!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
My second time doing this hike and my daughters first.  We did it to celebrate her 13th birthday.  Weather was perfect.  Started at 1030 and took 6.5 hrs to complete.  Saw just a few others but mostly hiked by ourselves.  I packed in a piece of birthday cake and we celebrated on the summit with a girls soccer team, also climbing that day,  singing happy birthday to my daughter.  A beautiful hike only made better by the special occasion.  As my now 13 yro put it the views and experience was well worth the effort into getting to the top.  I guess you can raise a great kid without instructions.  Back to the hike, we drank about 150 oz between us, mostly on the way up.  Great hike but lots of work, plan on being in pretty good shape.  Strong legs will carry you part of the way, but a strong heart get you to the top. 

By: Sophia Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 15, 2012
Easily my favorite hike in all of virginia! Did this on a monday. Left the lower parking lot around 8:30. Started raining fairly heavily while we were doing the scramble, which made some of the climbing a little iffy/slippery, but the views through the mist and clouds were indescribable. Avoid crowds, bring a buddy and at least a liter of water and your camera! We went clockwise, definitely wouldn't suggest going counter clockwise or you'll have to do a lot of the best scrambling on the downhill.

By: Lam Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Just letting every hiker know that a charity group of 60+ hikers is heading to Old Rag at 9am on Saturday, 10-13-12.  We will be in groups of 10 but there will be some bottlenecks during the rock scrambles so if you do plan to go, please plan accordingly.  Thanks all.

By: Joe Plenzler & Kate Germano Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Awesome hike! Best one we've done on the East coast so far.

Thanks for the great advice. We took it and got on the trail by 0715. We only saw 10 people on the whole hike...until we made it back to the trailhead around 1115 and there we passed at least 100 on their way up. So happy we started early!

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Thank you for the great advise! We are from Switzerland and were looking for a good day hike in the East. We definitvely found what we were looking for: Spectacular views, an always exciting trail - even liked the fire road back to the upper parking area - and some good physical challenge. We were extremely appalled, however, by the trash along the trail - picked up quite a bit and wished we brought a trash bag along. It culminates at Byrd's Nest shelter. Do this one clockwise, the other way around is only OK if you want to get to the top and return again as the downhill scramble could be iffy even for more experienced folks. Counterclockwise should not be underestimated as well this hike is not for young kids as the elevation gain is too high and distance rather long. We arrived at 9:15AM on a Tuesday at the parking lot and hiked and scrambled in solitude. Bring enough water along on hot days but leave your large backpack at home. I would never recommend to do this hike in the rain or at night.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 7, 2012
It couldn't decide if it wanted to rain or not today but I took a chance. I am a novice hiker and I'm doing it to get in shape. I read the reviews and the information on the NPS website. Also I'm 6'-2" ~235ish. I followed the blue blaze on the way up and the trail is taken care of well and the ascent is fairly easy due to the swicthbacks. One gains a lot of elevation but it just does not feel that way.  No doubt if you haven't hiked much it will wear you out.  I was told it's best to get the hard stuff done first and that meant the "boulder scrabble" The blue blazes are many and not too far apart.  Those boulders were tough!  I did this by myself and used caution not to be a statistic, if you're going to get hurt in the park this is most likely where it will happen.  In fact I saw three persons(with orange shirts) who appeared to be a resue team right at the summit... they were coming and I was going and we met by chance. In retospect I probably should have had a hiking companion.  The boulders were a bit damp/wet but it was not raining, sort of a mist.  You need hiking boots for this hike I had to toss one of my "nature made" walking sticks but the other I kept and I'm glad I did, I relied on it. Just when I thought I was at the top I said "Okay you can let it rain now..." and it did, one problem... I wasnt at the summit I still had a bit to go.  Go prepared!  Once I got to the boulders I had a thought to turn back but heck I made it that far.  The rest is cake, with a stream babbling nearby. I'll do it again, after I recover

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 7, 2012
continuation- I mentioned the 235-ish for a reason.  I had a fairly large hydration pack on and two water bottle fanny pack.  I had to take off the fanny pack to squeeze through some of the narrow spaces. If you're a large-ish person keep this in mind.  I did however get some pics of the clouds... below the elevation I took the pics.  That was cool!

By: Robert Lemon Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 21, 2012
Old Rag never dissapoints.Wheather was great,perfect day to enjoy the beauty of the Mountain.My son Eric joined me to hike this old mountain for the (4th time). We have hiked it a few times over the years.This is a Great Hike in the Spring and the Fall. My best advice is to wear proper shoes and pace yourself. Take your time going threw the rock scramble,watching were you place your feet is very important!!! 

By: B & J Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 20, 2012
This is an amazing hike. We were a bit worried about length & elevation based on info we read but the views from the summit are well worth it. We truly enjoyed the rock scramble across the top of Old Rag, was unlike anything we've ever experienced before. The initial climb isn't really that bad so don't be worried about the elevation change. Coming down was hard on our 50 yr old knees so we were thankful for the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. If you enjoy hiking, this is one you won't want to miss!!

By: kate hines Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Was anyone else disappointed that someone with great effort has built up a rock base at the trickiest part of the rock scramble thus making it easier? I was! I've hiked Old Rag over 20x and there is always the challenge of this one part to look forward to, but no longer as someone has slid rocks down the crevice. So sad!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 10, 2012
WARNING Old Rag Trail is close tomorrow WARNING 9/11. Please check with SNP for more details.

By: Jen Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 13, 2012
This was my first time hiking Old Rag and what an experience!  It was definitely challenging but different enough not to become drudgery.  The rock scramble was a blast . . . and the views!!  Unlike others' comments I welcomed the easy slope and hike down the fire road at the end.  I plan to come back and do some trail runs on the beginning and end of the hike loop.
Water, water, water -- bring plenty of water.  It will be worth its weight.  And something to eat for quick energy as you may find yourself running out of juice rather quickly.  If this is your first time through, the hike will likely be like nothing your body has encountered before -- or at least with any frequency.
Can't wait to do it again in a different season!

By: Haqtastic Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 11, 2012
This was my second time hiking Old Rag so I wanted to try something different. I took three other people with me (2 first timers) and started at 2 AM from the parking lot. Since we had first timers with us, I decided to lead the group counterclockwise, tackling the fire road first. We set out with headlamps and made the summit by 4 AM. It began to drizzle a bit but didn't produce enough to deter our spirits. After a change of clothes and finding a few rocks to block the wind, we hunkered down for an hour and a half til sunrise. I watched as a group of hikers were making their way up via headlamps as well and sat in silence while the others rested. Shortly after day break, we made our way down the rock scramble, stopping for pictures. Any feelings of exhaustion caused by the climb to the summit were replaced by the views illuminated by the sunrise. I love sharing these moments with others and for the first timers with me, this was something remarkable. Going down the rock scramble is much more challenging (in my opinion) than going up. We passed 40 or more hikers on the way back down and greeted each one with a "good morning". Most of them were shocked that we were on our way down and inquired how long we were up there. We refilled out water at the first spring, hopped in the car, and drove to Sperryville for breakfast. This was by far my favorite hike in Virginia to date, and the first time I have hiked using a headlamp. In all, the hike took a little under 5 hours. I used my Osprey Stratos 36 pack and carried most of the gear so the others could enjoy more of the hike (about 25 lbs). It gave me no problems with scrambling and the extra weight was a great workout. I know a lot of people are put off by the number of people on this hike during the weekends, but why complain. The more people willing to enjoy the outdoors, the better. If you want to beat the crowds, sacrifice some sleep and get out earlier.

By: Ricky Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 11, 2012
This was a great hike with excellent views. We started at 8:00 am, and didn't really encounter what I'd consider a lot of people. Sure, there were others on the trail, and we bunched a little in the rock scramble, but since we weren't concerned with absolute solitude, it was kind of nice to socialize with some other hikers. I'd like to try to clarify two things about this hike that I was a little confused about going in. First, you really do need to take a minimum of two quarts of water per person, as recommended by the NPS. I wish I'd brought three. Second, I did not understand what the phrase "rock scramble" meant going into this. For anyone else who's confused, it means "rock climbing." You will be using your hands and feet to climb rocks. The only difference between a scramble and a climb, as far as I can tell, is that in a scramble you never get far enough off of the ground that safety harnesses seem worth the trouble. Don't get me wrong, you could fall and hurt yourself badly doing the scramble, but I think a reasonably fit and coordinated person shouldn't have much to worry about.

By: Vince Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 4, 2012
This was my wife and my first time hiking Old Rag, and really our first significant hike period. We arrived at the lower parking lot around 8:00 and there were already about 15-20 cars. We made it to the top in 2 hours and 50 minutes. It was amazing. Great hike, awesome views, strenuous, and a lot of fun. There were people, but not too cowded. We brought lots of water, and packed in a carb loaded picnic. We made it down in 2 hours. My legs were burning by the time we got back to the car, but we laughed and talked the entire time. 18 years married, with 4 kids and we agreed one of the best days ever.

By: Mark Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 28, 2012
Five of us - wife son, 18 daughter, 14 daughter, 13. Kids athletic - us, no what we were. After reading the Old Rag warnings, youngest had contacts for local EMS (thinking ahead for mom and dad). We were fine & the hike was glorious, beautiful. Arrived at Berry Hollow at 8:15: 2 hours to the top & 45 minutes down. About 5.6 mi by this route. Spent an hour at the top. Took plenty of water and energy snacks. Spent time looking at the geology - USGS has great trail review. Last here 20 years ago & the area is even more amazing . The people training on the circuit were amazing. Some running the long summit loop repeatedly We saw three fellows reach the summit running in gas masks & waighted body armor. DC area - sometimes too interesting.

By: Craig C Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hydration is top priority on this hike. Please keep in mind is that there are no juice bars or lemonade stands on Old Rag Mountain.  Thus, you will either need to build your own or have one airlifted in order to complete your hike, as it is nearly impossible to sip juice or lemonade from your canteen without attracting unwanted attention from snakes, jackalopes, and wayward Webelos scouts. 

A word of caution: if you choose to build a lemonade stand, you will require a team of at least 10-12 Sherpa to finagle the lumber (and the obligatory change purse) up the perilous pitch.  I also suggest that you speak directly with the US Forest Service regarding their guidelines on both airlifts and lemonade vending before coming to Old Rag, as some red tape time should be calculated into your trip. I initially began my search for strapping sherpa while making the rounds in the Old Rag parking lot some months ago, but quickly realized that I would have to make a sidetrip to the Kaakoram Mountain Range to secure the right team, which greatly added to the expense of this 8.7 mile hike. 

A quick anecdote on provisions: Fortunately for my unstrung quartet of Übermensches, we spotted a unhinged snack vendor near Balance Rock (who apparently became disoriented and made a couple of wrong turns on the way to Nationals Park in DC) who supplied enough Mr. Pibb and schnitzel to keep to give us that little pick-me-up we needed for the return trip down on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.  Since this vendor sighting was a low-probability morsel of serendipity, I highly recommend that you carry your own sausages and soft drinks to avoid the dreaded 'bonk' that may strike even the most experienced hiker with little warning, making a good day of hiking no better than a bad day of fishing.  Hopefully, the bonk will not sneak up on you like a deer tick or a dangling participle.

For seasoned hikers, a word or two now on arctobatics (the art of performing extraordinary acts of balance in a bear suit):  Like you, I always look forward to the possibility of getting dressed up like a ferocious carnivore and improvising gravity amongst the summit boulders on a makeshift trapzee and / or juggling chainsaws whilst moonwalking on a highwire between the Bryd's Nest and Old Rag shelters.  While I have tirelessly read and re-read the SNP regulations without finding any stipulation that may prohit or at very least discourage such revelry, common sense tells me that you'd be better off leaving the bear suit and chainsaws at home for your Labor Day picnic. 

Clearly, Old Rag isn't for everyone, but it isn't for anyone else either, or for any body that isn't elsewither inclined to at least every-other-day acts of any exercise. At ease.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 15, 2012
Today was my second time hiking Old Rag. I hiked it with my boyfriend a couple of years ago and have been meaning to come back ever since. This time I went by myself and, knowing the trail can get crowded, got an early start from the parking lot at 7:30. Only passed three people on the way up, stopped a couple times briefly to snap a few pics and reached the summit in 1 hr. 45 minutes to find that I had the summit all to myself! Climbed a big rock and enjoyed the breathtaking views in peace and solitude for 20 minutes or so before a few other people arrived. Definitely worth the early start to have those few minutes alone with the mountain. Took the saddle trail and fire road back, running for the last 3 miles or so to finish the circuit in 3 1/2 hours.

I would not hesitate to recommend this hike to anyone who's up for a challenge. Your first glance at the views from the summit will cancel out any pain in your legs! I, for one, will absolutely be going back in the fall, if not sooner.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 15, 2012
This was my 6th time hiking Old Rag, and, as always, the fun of the boulder scrambling and the views from the summit made the sweating worth it.  Not liking to stand in line at the tight squeezes, I left the parking lot at 6:37, reached the summit where I chilled for a while munching and admiring the view, and hustled back by 10:22.  Only passed three fellow hikers going up, but bumped into several more coming up the trailhead access road and fire road as I was heading down.  This is a great hike to use as a work out/tune up for bigger badder trips - strenuous yet not dangerous, and a good physical challenge that won't eat up a lot of time.   

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 12, 2012
This was a very challenging, but rewarding hike for me. I went with my brother, who hikes often and found this easy. I'm kind of fit, used to regular walks in a hilly neighborhood or 30-40 minutes on the elliptical each day, but this was more difficult than I expected. I am not an experienced climber and needed his help on a couple of the rocks. Both of us are in our 50s.

Timing: We left the parking lot around 11:35 AM, took a couple of 10- or 15-minute breaks, a very leisurely one of probably an hour and 15 minutes at the Old Rag Shelter, and got back to the parking lot at 7:40 PM. That made 8 hours from start to finish, but I could have done it without difficulty in less than seven. My patient brother could have done it in five.

Water & Food: Between us we took 3 liters of water and about half of a soda. We were okay, but would have enjoyed more, say 5-6 liters total. We also had plenty of snacks and ate at Rudy's Pizza in Sperryville afterwards.

Solitude: We saw only 20-30 other people ranging in age from 5 to in their 60s, and were not slowed down by crowds at any point. Most people were doing well and enthusiastic. If the Findlay, Ohio family reads this: I hope all of you got back to the parking lot before dark.

Bears: We saw two or three bears (the first two sightings may have been the same one in different places) on either side of the fire road. They saw us and watched us from a hundred or so feet away, but we kept walking and talking normally and they turned and went away, fortunately farther from the fire road in each case.

Photos: We didn't want to carry a camera and relied on our cell phones to get pictures. There is no signal on the mountain, so the batteries died quickly and we missed some shots we would have liked. Take a good camera.

Three days later, and I'm still sore but glad I did the hike. We were surprised that it wasn't crowded on a day with ideal temperatures (low 80s) and no rain. The bears may be enough to discourage me from doing it again, however.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 7, 2012
Great hike and scramble. Lots of fun. Was my first time at Old Rag and I was silly and decided hike it on a day that showed record heat along the east coast. I started up the blue blazed trail and came out on the service road. Ran into mama bear on the service road. She kinda pushed me away. Or at least her walking towards me gave me the impression I was not welcome. So I briskly went on my way. Was fun to see though. My advice, take lots of water, I went through a 100 oz CamelPak like it was nothing. Also, bring a few granola bars or clif bars. I only brought one and by the time I was done I was hungry enough to eat a cow. Overall, lots of fun. Will be back to tackle that scramble again at some point.

If you are driving in from the DC area (Arlington, DC, Alexandria, you get the point) leave early. Like 530, 600 am early. That will put you at the parking lot around 730-745. Few cars in the parking lot and its a heck of a lot cooler.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 4, 2012
I got to the parking lot around 730am.  There were only a few people in there.  The weather was perfect out and there were very few people along the trail up.  I got to the top and there was a pretty strong wind but it was a great day to hike this course.  This was my 3rd time doing this hike and is my absolute favorite hike thus far. I have not found another trail that has the view like Old Rag.  Bring lots of water though you will get a good workout. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 23, 2012
Hiked up the Berry Hollow Rd. to Old Rag Shelter. There is a good spring below the shelter. Then up the Saddle Trail to Byrd's Nest Shelter. Most of the shelter is enclosed as a maintenance shed now, which is a real pity. the balance of the shelter is being used as a toilet by dayhikers. This site is in much need of a pit or vault toilet. There is no viable water source at this shelter. Setting up camp below the shelter at noon, we hiked up to the top for the balance of the day Saturday. Bringing our camp stoves and food, we had dinner and watched the long, slow sunset on the Solstice Weekend. Virtually no one camps on Old Rag, making us the sole surveyors of the panorama. Once dark, we hiked back down to our camp and had a great night in a perfect campsite. Sunday we hiked back to the top to refill our water from one of the many rock pools on top (You'll need a good water filter pump for this.). Then, it was back down to break camp and head back down the Saddle Trail and home. If you haven't camped on Old Rag, you should consider it. There are very few good sites, but worth the effort.

By: STARBUCK Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 16, 2012
I have hiked several trails in the Shenandoah with members of my family, and there is no question that Old Rag is the best I have been on. We have been to White Oak Canyon a half dozen times, Riprap, and Jones Falls. None of the others can compare to the incredible views from Old Rag or the challenge of the rock climbing.

Bring a good camera because you will not want to miss the views. I'm not exaggerating with all of the cool angles with the big boulders / rock formations on the way to the summit and the 360 degree view from the summit.

Take plenty of water (the park recommends 2 quarters, and you may need that much on a summer day). I saw quite a few people on the trail without backpacks or side saddles for carrying water...a big mistake in my view.

There was a rattlesnake on the trail a couple of weeks ago, according to a guy who was hiking ahead of us at that time. And today my son saw a yellow & black snake (not sure if it was a timber rattlesnake because I did not see it). I always bring a snake bite kit with me (the Sawyer pump kit with the strong suction, not a cheap scalpel kit), and I would recommend that others integrate a kit into their first aid prep as well.

I have children ranging in age from 7 to 14. While the rock climbing is an exciting challenge for athletic teens, I would not recommend taking younger children through the rock scramble. It can be dangerous at times for shorter children with some gaps in the rocks that need to be crossed.

Have a blast!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 16, 2012
I left the DC area EARLY(!!!) and was able to begin my hike around 6:15 in the morning. Absolutely beautiful day with only a few others out. A group of two left just before me and I caught up to another group of three - other than that peace and quiet.

Gorgeous day and frankly I was surprised at how vigorous a hike this was, though I was carrying my full overnight kit (~ 25 lbs) and would definitely recommend that if you aren't used to carrying your weight to go light on this one. The only thing you really need is water and maybe a snack for a little summit treat.

It took me a few minutes to find my way near the beginning of the rock scramble but really only because I wasn't paying attention to the blue blazes (duh). So once I saw one, it dawned on me that maybe I should pay a bit more attention instead of scampering around looking for a trail on angled boulders. I hit the summit around 8:45 and stayed a bit to enjoy the views. Easily the best views of Virginia I've seen since moving here from Washington state. 

The path down was generally uneventful and I did pass more folks as I descended. I was privileged (?) to see not one but two black bears. The first I encountered just above the Old Rag Shelter about 15 feet from the trail... staring at me. I made eye contact and initially stopped and then slowly proceeded to move down the trail, but the bear remained where he was so I resumed my normal pace downhill. A bit scary for my first SNP hike to encounter the bear so close, but, hey, that's why we hike! The second bear I encountered was just off the Weakley Hollow Trail and this guy saw me before I him and was well into a trot to get away before I realized what I was looking at.  Of course, after my second spotting I couldn't move fast enough feeling as though I may be using up my luck. I saw another two or three spots of bear scat along the Hollow Trail which didn't ease my concerns. But, after a short time a large group of hikers passed me and as loud as they were I was relatively sure no bears would be lying in wait to ambush me (haha).

All in all, a beautiful strenuous hike that I'd recommend to anyone in decent shape. I'd likely recommend you do this as a small group because while black bears generally aren't aggressive it's a risk you take while hiking solo. I'd heard so much about how crowded Old Rag can get that I left extremely early which seems to be the right decision. Next time, I may push to hit the summit around sunrise!

By: OldRaghead Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
This was an amazing hike! We left the parking lot at 12:45 and got back to the car at 4:30. We jogged a mile or two on the way down, but kept a pretty good pace going. There are definitely parts of the hike (rocky section) that are extremely difficult...I had to help a few people up over one particularly challenging part. Still, great day out! The views at the top are truly breathtaking.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 3, 2012
Did one of my many Patrols for PATC on this day.   On other days its for ORMS.   Great day hung out talkiing to Rangers and hikers in parking lot for about an hour.   Started up trail about 1:30 PM stopped to talk or help hikers, take in nature, take pictures, or take a nap  for 10 or 15 minutes at about 15-25 places along the way.   Great sunset, wonderful Mountain Laurel, awesome moon and city lights on the horizon.   Got back to car about 10PM.   For additional info, pictures about Old Rag see my patrol blog at:     Old Rag is an awesome natural resource whose granite was formed 1.3 Billion years ago (according to scientist) hopefully it will be shared, savored and more importantly cherised by all who have the opportunity to spend on some time on her trails.

By: Arlington1 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 3, 2012
This was the best hike I have ever completed!  The views were amazing.  The hike was not only challenging, but so much fun to do!  The rock scramble is awesome and you almost don't want it to end!  My knees hurt today from the hike down the mountain, but I would definitely recommend it!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2012
My wife and I are 61 years old and we are in good physical shape.  I don't think I recommend this for people our age out of shape.  There were 4 of us on the hike.  We parked the car at about 10:30am, walked a few miles on the road and then began the ascent.  It starts off gradual and then you have to climb steps to get to the overlooks, I think there are a few of them.  We had hiking shoes, some people wore sneakers and a few in flip flops (not recommended).  We saw serious hikers and casual people.  I would not call the trail crowded but not deserted either.  I recommend food and plenty of water.  One of the people we were with loaned me the camelbak full of water, I drained it all by the time we finished. Recommended over carrying water bottles.  We snacked on nuts and apples and small sandwiches along the way, we did not rush.  The views are magnificient.  Oh yes, the weather was perfect, I never felt hot due to the weather.  Ok, so after we got to the final overlook it was on the way to the summit.  The Rock Scrambling, as they call it was very rigorous, as I said we are 61 years old and we did not see anyone our age attempting this.  One of the people in our party was very experienced and at times went first and decribed how to go up or down with hanging onto the right part of the rock and getting your feet in the right place.  One of the most challenging parts was a squeeze up with one of the rock walls wet.  I recommend a good pair of trail shows to hold on.  I still have some scrapes on my arms and legs.  I was thankful we took what is called the easier way down, we did not go down the rock scramble.  I think the entire hike was over 7 miles, we started at 10:30am in the parking lot and returned to our cottage at 6pm.  The best shower I ever took!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 17, 2012
This was a fabulous hike, but not for the weak at heart. I am female and I went alone. I had to park in the lower lot and hike up approximately .5 miles to the trail head. It was a Thursday, so there were other visitors around me, but not annoyingly so.

The first part of the hike is an uphill trail hike on a rough, which gave me a workout. I did it very quickly, passing a few hikers and arrived at the rock scramble covered in sweat.

The rock scramble was tricky. I was able to navigate the entire scramble on my own, with the exception of one point where a young man gave me and his girlfriend a hand up. I'm not sure how I would have gotten up without his help. If you are scared of heights, this may not be the best hike for you, as there are a few times you will need to jump from one big boulder to the next. The views are astounding!

When I neared the summit, I hung my shirt up to dry, put my jacket on, ate lunch and fell asleep on a warm rock for 45 minutes.

I finished the trail by hiking out on the fire road. It was a wonderful treat to be able to stop for a few minutes and soak my hot feet in the cold stream and relax.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Did this hike as a work function.  We got to the parking lot around 9am and started our hike up about 9:20.  Everyone from our section had a great time. This is the second time that I have hiked this trail in 2 months and it has become one of my favorites. I look forward to going again real soon.  Get there early though if you plan to go on the weekends.

By: Feiyu Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 4, 2012
There is at least one ticky place in the rock-scrambling area. The rocks actually became a little slippery after rain on Friday night, which made me fell off twice until I tried the third time after a short break. My both knees were bleeding at that time, but it's good to make it finally. Suggest team work as the other put one foot for you to step up as the backup to deal with the challenge. Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 30, 2012
Without  a doubt, this was our favorite hike. We have been hiking  many years in New York and Pennsylvania. The last 3 years we have done many hikes in the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. Did Mount Rodgers last year, the distance was about the same as Old Rag, but the climbing was so much harder and a lot more fun on Old Rag.
Went on Monday morning, left the lower parking lot at 8:45AM. You can not park on the upper lot anymore and this adds a couple of miles of road waking to the overall hike.  After 3 miles we came to a steep rock climb section. We thought it was the rock scramble we read about and said to ourselves that it is not too bad of a hike. We were wrong, the rock scramble was ahead of us. We had 2 hard areas to cross. We are small framed ( 5ft 9 and 5 ft ) and in our late 50's but in good shape. ( We hiked about 75 miles total in 2 months before to get ready ) The first area we had to scale up the side of a 15ft rounded rock. If we had slipped off that, would have had some bruises. The second area was about a 2-3 foot gap between rocks with an uphill slant to the rock we had to jump to and land with our bodies flat across the rock. If we slid back down, we would have fallen about 15ft onto a rocky floor.
I pushed my wife across and then I had to jump by myself. I crawled about 3 feet across the rock on my belly about an inch movement at a time until my foot was able to get some traction. It was exciting ! You think you are getting to the end of the scramble after you cross every large boulder but there is always another large group of rocks. We only saw a few hikers all day, so you need to choose the day to go on. With a lot of hikers, I could see how long waits could occur. You can cross the areas that are hard but you need to determine how you will do it and take your time climbing. Smaller people can crawl through openings and other people have to climb over and around some rock formations.  At the summit the view is great in every direction.  We ate lunch and did a bottle of champagne and rested our feet. ( Our 35th Wedding anniversary ) The long walk down the mountain and to the parking lot was hard on the toes. One of the best hikes we have ever done.  Remember: Good hiking shoes, gripping gloves and some comfortable to crawl over and down rocks.

By: Spence Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 30, 2012
This was a fabulous hike! However, to be honest you do need to have some semblance of fitness: I would say be able to walk 8-10 miles on flat surface with no adverse reaction.  There are two areas that I would say are very tricky and can cause pause (if you are afraid of heights), but for the most part a great "mountain climbing" hike.  Please keep that in mind, as this is not a Sunday stroll to the woods hike.  Important to note: WEAR PROPER FOOTWEAR (i.e. shoes with good grip).  Hydrate and eat well as you will burn calories I weighted 270lbs and burned 4666 calories during the hike. 

By: dayhiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 28, 2012
Are you all crazy??? my idea of a great hike does not mean going with 2-3000 of my best friends! I've hiked Old Rag a few times lately and the overcrowding is just amazing... more like a woodland Kings Dominion than a mountain hike.. complete with waiting in lines, lots of trash, human waste, and testosterone crazed males, dragging their muted dates along (can you say - "hold my beer, watch this!"... ) 
The park really needs to consider limiting numbers... the damage to the trails is astounding..
.. just my .02

By: Kim Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 20, 2012
What an amazing day! I hiked this with my parents there mid 50's, my sons 5yoa, and about 2 ( in a backpack , of course!) It was perfect! The mountain was quiet and those we met were kind and happy to be there. My 5yr old did amazing. He is athletic and did the loop without a single complaint. Grandpa is fit and was able to assist in the rock scramble when needed, which made it possible to do this hike. We took lots of small breaks and had lots of energy snacks, trail mix, bars,fruit, etc. The toddler was amazing also. He "hiked" a little on the ascent and on the fire road. It wasn't bad doing the scramble with him in the pack(total about 40 lbs)) but again that is dependent on your own personal skill and fitness level I want parents to know that younger children can do this hike, just make sure of your skill and fitness level. It was very rewarding and it's great to share such an experience with them. I look forward to many hikes ahead!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2012
This is around the 20th time I've made this hike, I love it every time.  Of course, you really have to hit the head by 7 or 8am at the latest.  This was the first time I've hike up and back via the scramble, its a lot more fun this way.  Very different coming down thru the scramble vs. going up, but I liked it.  I do have to say that I am disapointed with the neighbor who decided to clear cut his parcel of land just at the trail head, kind of disapointing.  On a side note, I was bit by a dog hiking with a group of people, I didn't think anything of it until later, but if this was your dog, or you know of this dog (about 40 lbs, black with a  white underbelly, hiking with 3 people in their early 20's on the scramble around 8am) I would appreciate getting in touch with you (I'm not interested in pressing charges, just making sure I don't get something...)

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2012
This was my first time hiking Old Rag.  I enjoyed every step of the hike.  While we had to stop at a choke point or two the hike itself was amazing and I can not wait to do it again.!!

By: Patrick R Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Arrived at the lower parking lot around 6am with around 15 cars total in the lot. Started the hike about 615a just as the sun was starting to rise. We passed a few people who were on the way down from overnight camping or watching the sun rise but for the most part we didn't see many people. Made it to the top about 2 hours later and took our time on the rock scramble, no lines, no people! Continued on our way down the fire road and made it back at about 12pm just as the hordes of people were walking up from the lower parking lot. The parking lot was almost 100% full when we returned. Start this hike EARLY on the weekends. Just before daybreak is best.

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 13, 2012
I grew up and live about 15 miles from Old Rag, and this was my first attempt at the hike. It was tough, but something I felt comfortable in completing. I'm not super fit, pretty far from it, honestly I'm 5-10, 230ish. There was only one obstacle during the scramble that I felt I would have had some trouble getting over without some help (and probably due more to my short legs than my fitness level). Everything else was pretty straight forward and easy. We completed the hike in 6 hours, with a couple of breaks (including 1 that was about 45 minutes at the summit). The worst part of the hike was the long, boring hike down the fire road. My feet were killing me with about 2 miles to go. I look forward to my next Old Rag excursion. Definitely do this hike on a weekday!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 7, 2012
We left the lower parking lot just before 2am, 34 degrees and hiked by headlamp light.  We were able to watch the sunrise from the first open, flat slab of granite just beyond the no camping sign.  We continued on and made the summit around 9am.  The most difficult part of the scramble for us had a large blood splatter on the spot we kept slipping onto as we got up and over it, so apparently we weren't the only ones who had trouble at this spot.  We continued to see blood drops on the rock for the next tenth of a mile or so.  This hike is no joke!  You can read my full trip report at

By: Doglover1970 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 7, 2012
I typically love hiking Old Rag, despite the crowds.  However, Saturday was awful as there were busloads of people there.  While I understand not wanting to limit the number of people daily who can enjoy Old Rag, I do not believe that buses should be permitted.  That is just a complete overload of people on the trail at one time which ruins the experience for everyone.  It was AWFUL.

By: SarahB Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 5, 2012
Just the right temperature.  Not too crowded.  Excellent views, again and again and again.  Challenging but not impossible.  This was my 4th time and we will climb again. (We are in our fifties and had our 16-year-old daughter with us.)

By: Mark R Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
We started at 230 from lower parking lot. My son ( age 14) was on spring break. We saw several hikers coming down. The Rock scramble was a CHALLENGE. My wife and I are accomplished triathletes and we found some of the rock climbs physically very hard.

The reached summit at 430 ( 2 hours) and there were only 2 other people. Theday was warm and windy. We came down the Ridge and Weakley Hollow trail. This was "boring" according to my teen son. The river was high and very pretty. Reached lower lot at 645 ( 2:15) so still had some light ( sunset 7:40) GREAT GREAT Hike

By: Liz and Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 2, 2012
We had a great time today.  This is definitely one of my favorites with all of the rock scrambles and the incredible view at the top.  On a safety note- this is a great hike to do because it is popular and there are usually other people hiking in your proximity, so if you get into trouble help isn't too far away!

By: Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 30, 2012
I am very experienced on this trail.  I  could not belive what I saw today!   Today's weather forcast was sunny..  The weather was far from sunny....cold rain ...and I saw around 30 people in shorts with no rain gear.  It came to the second shelter and decided to decend down due to safety reasons. (I did the Saddle Trail today .)  It was so cold up there you could see your breath.  People did not seem to understand the dangers of hypotherma.  These people were taking a chance of getting seriously hurt.  The only thing that saved these inexperenced hikers was the fact there was no wind.   The experienced hikers I seen today were smart and got off the mountain. (They also had rain gear.)   Please if you are not a hiker please don't do this hike, leave it to the experienced.  Try an easy trail first, 9 miles is a long hike. You must be prepared for bad weather on this mountain.  You can always hike this trail another day.   This is just not a walk in the woods.  I agree with the guy a few reviews down....if you don't know how to stay on the trail GET OFF this mountain.   I am also tried of picking up your trash!  

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 30, 2012
I was there the same day as the previous reviewer and I have to agree with her.  It's very fortunate that the temperature stayed up and the wind down.  I played through a big group of underdressed youngsters on the scramble, running around on wet rock in chilly rain, seemingly without a leader.  One of them was nice enough to offer me a hand up one of the tighter passages. I'm a fat old guy but I know what I'm doing.  But when I got to the top I was thinking that could have been trouble.  There are definitely some spots that are deceptively easy an untimely slip could lead to big problems.   That group needed better leadership.  Anyway I had a blast. Old Rag is a great hike/scramble and a must do for those who can handle it.  I plan to go back soon, and to get on the trail as early as possible. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 30, 2012
I hiked Old Rag Mountain on 3/30/2012 and the weather forecast was supposed to be sunny with less than 10% of chance of rain. I started around noon and it soon started rain. It rained good for more than an hour! I was glad I had my rain jacket and pants in my backpack. I saw a border collie at the first false summit and the dog was very friendly. The dog had a name tag and it belonged to a local resident. After playing with the dog awhile, I continue my hike to the summit. I descended the same ridge trail and saw the dog was still there with another group of hikers. The dog greeted me and lead me all the way down to the parking lot for 2 hours!!! then she left to her home. Overall, very fun hike!

By: Glen Meatman Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 17, 2012
What an awesome hike. A full body workout with great views and fresh air. We got started early as suggested here by other hikers and hit the trail about 730am. We virtually had the trail to ourselves with time to eat lunch on the first vista. Believe it or not, I thought coming down was more difficult than going up. Trail coming down we passed maybe 20 people going up and that was it. Something to note though, the trail is not easy to find if you haven't been here or are with some one who has so make sure you know where you are going or you will drive around looking for it. Cant wait to do it again

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
let me start by saying that I have hiked Old Rag at least ten times over the years, my first time was in 1981. the last time i hiked it(before today) was in 1999.  I cant even begin to express my sadness in how this mountain has changed for the worse, it's drastically different than i had remembered it.  The Hemlocks at the foot of the mountain are all gone now and the trail itself is at least 2-3 times wider than it ever was, there are areas at the top of the mountain that are roped off because people have endlessly trampled the vegetation and there are shortcuts on almost every corner and switchback....what a shame. then you have people like "josh" who hike it  3 times in one day? How irresponsible, give the mountain a break man, it is waaay overused.  I for one, after seeing the condition of the mountain, agree that SNP should greatly limit access to Old Rag.

all this being said, it is still a great hike and a great workout for anyone.  the Vista's are second to none. it was a great sunny day and me, my girlfriend and my 77 year old father started at 8 am at the lower parking lot. we took our time going up the trail and were at the summit by 11:30 am. stopping to explore all the different rock outcroppings and enjoying a nice lunch along the way.  In my opinion this was a 5 star hike 20 years ago ...after seeing how much it has changed for the worse i give it a 3 at best.

By: Michelle Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 11, 2012
I love Old Rag! It is a very challenging hike though. The rock scramble is not something you want to do on your own, always bring a buddy. I always go up the rock scramble and down the fire lane. It normally takes me 4 hours including lunch to hike this trail. It is a fantastic hike, but you will be sore. The views are amazing in the fall and well worth the hike every time.

By: Michael Rosin Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 8, 2012
This was the first time I've done any major hiking in years, and the first time on the east coast.  I must say, I had one of the most fantastic days I've had in a long time.  It was strenuous, and my friends and I were tired at the end (we ended up doing the last 45 minutes or so in the dark- got a late start), but we had a feeling of accomplishment at the end.  We did the whole hike without any foreknowledge of what to expect which made the rock scrambling (we actually discovered that term from a fellow hiker we passed), which perhaps would have helped, but not knowing what to expect next made the more exciting parts of the trail that much more exciting.  It is fortunate that we are all in good shape, as it was fairly arduous.  When we got to the rock scramble we fairly flew through it- it was like a giant playground!  That part was, to me, more fun than reaching the summit.  Can't wait to do it again!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 8, 2012
This was a great day weather-wise to hike this trail....the crowds were mostly pretty good....a little backlog in the scrambling but otherwise....just being crowds.

I seriously love this trail...I am training for a long series of day hikes in the near future and I think this is a great training run. I did the route three times yesterday, with some trail running involved. I tend to pace decently, so I got the first run done in 2:40...the second in 2:10, and the third with the backlog mentioned above in 2:30. It was also a great day to test out my new trail running shoes.

I can't recommend this place enough for any level of hiker...the challenge is solid, the views are amazing, and the rock scrambling is always a lot of fun.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, January 3, 2012
As everyone said, terrific hike. I did this hike once before when it was in the high 90's and swarming with people. The second time was a very different experience. We started around 1:00 AM going up the steep trail, headlamps off. We got to the rocks, decided they were in good enough condition to cross at night, and got to the summit around 4:40 AM taking our time to stop and smell the roses/sit and look at the gorgeous night sky and lights from the valley. It was in the mid 20's and EXTREMELY windy, but worth it to watch the valley go from pitch black and cloudy to full daylight (6:30 AM - 7:30 AM). We came down by way of the fire road and left around 10:30. We saw no one the entire time.

It is possible to safely do this hike at night if you are already comfortable hiking on gentler trails in the dark, and you feel you are fit enough to climb over 2000 feet and scramble over rocks and still have plenty of energy to get down safely. We brought along a couple winter sleeping bags, which were bulky but would have proved invaluable in an emergency. Watch for ice, spotty cell phone reception if any at all, and maneuvers that will have your head 10 feet off the ground without much beneath you. Watch out for how you are climbing up rocks, as it's easy to put your arms in a position that would dislocate your shoulder if you were to suddenly slip. You don't need upper body strength like the SNP website is so fond of saying, just a strong butt, strong knees, and good shoes.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 2, 2012
I have hiked this route 4 times (3 since October)  The last two were hikes to catch sunrise from Old Rag.  Party of two, we hiked the fire road from the lwoer parking lot Sunday evening and camped near the Old Rag Fire road- about an hour hiking. From the campsite to the summit took around an hour and five to an hour and ten minutes (with full packs).

We reached the summit around 7:10- plenty of time to take the packs off, eat a snack and snap some pictures before sunrise.  Got some awesome sunrise pictures.  Absolutely beautiful.  Temp's were in the 20's, and our Camelback hoses started to freeze. Overall we were quite surprised how dry it was considering the rain Sunday, but there were patches of ice (scattered and avoidable on the trail).  There were also some light snow flurries.  The hike down the ridge trail took two hours and we encountered around 20 people to the lower parking lot.  We did run into two couples with dogs. 

FOLKS: Please remember to leave your dogs at home for this hike.  Dogs are not allowed.  I don't care if you pickup after them, they are well behaved, or they once saved a drowning child.  THEY ARE NOT WELCOME.  You breaking the rules does no good for the hikers that follow them.

This was my first hike where we saw no one at the summit. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 31, 2011
My kids and I have done the Old Rag circuit hike for the past 6 years on New Years Eve day and it is always a lot of fun and a challenge, of course.  The weather was great, around 52 at the trail head, but cooler and windy at the summit.  It was a very clear day and the views and distance were spectacular.  There were a fair number of hikers, but not too crowded.  Can't wait to go back.

By: Sarae Ang Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 29, 2011
Absolutely great hike, brought two friends which was there first (I wouldnt suggest this to anyone) but they kept on chuggin.   This time of year there are ALOT of slick spots at the rock crawl, be extremely caution.  I must agree, if not experienced, I would not suggest a solo run.  Worst problem we had was due to us starting so late, we decided to take the fire walk to decrease any injury trying to do the hike in reverse at dusk.  Luckily we brought two flashlights and made our way through.  From this experience I know for a fact that I would not dare do this hike in the summer b/c it has to be wayyyyy to crowded.  You can really tell where places would get funelled fast.  But honestly an absolutely great hike, and a gorgeous view.  A must hike atleast once.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 26, 2011
A homecoming of sorts.  My grandparents were born and raised in nearby Nicholson Hollow and relocated to make way for the SNP (thats another story).  Have been on the Nicholson Hollow Trail before but this was my first on Old Rag .  Had the pleasure this time of making the trek with two of my sons.  The rock scramble was great but kind of slick from use and a bit icy and definitely lives up to the 'strenuous' label.  At age 55 (and not in the best of shape) the scramble is doable as long as you take your time and have a hiking partner or two. Would not recommend hiking the rocks alone.  We started early (7:30 am) and were passed by only a few other hikers.  Weather was clear, but cold, and very windy at the summit. Great, great views at the top.  Had lunch at the 'Byrds Nest', and returned to the parking area via the fire road.  Definitely worth the effort and can now take this one off my 'bucket' list.  Used 4L of water.  Note: coming down the trail was harder on my knees and ankles than going up and the use of a hiking stick on the scramble is more of a hinderance than help. Happy Trails to you.

By: Taylor Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 19, 2011
We started up Old Rag around 10am. It was a beautiful day with almost no clouds in the sky. The rock scramble was very fun! We had lunch at the summit and took our time and stopped a bunch to take pictures of the vistas. The hike took around five hours. I would do it again in a second.

By: Russ Huxtable Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Left the lower car park at 0900 it was a cold but beautiful day. Very few people for such a fantastic day, we only saw 5 others all day.  Had lunch at the summit alone with stunning views.  The crisp clear day with a dusting of snow and a little ice made it even more perfect.  A great day for our first time on old rag. Completed the circuit in 4 hrs with a coffee stop and lunch. Not bad for a middle aged couple (53, 47)

By: Art B III Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 10, 2011
This was my third Old Rag hike this year (12-15 in total). To avoid the crowds I typically leave the main parking area just before dawn. The ascent up the ridge trail was enjoyable as always. The trail was clear and outlined with a light snowfall on the adjacent forest floor. Near the top of the Ridge Trail a few rocks and rock hand holds were covered with ice. The ice coverage was a little worse than a mid-January 2011 hike. As usual the summit was spectacular and blustery. We then hiked down a short distant to the Byrds Nest shelter. Unfortunately most of the shelter has been closed up to store rescue supplies. This shelter had been my breakfast cooking spot forever. After setting up our backpacking stove on a &ldquorock table&rdquo and finishing our breakfast we continued down the Saddle Trail. A number of locations were covered with ice, once again the typical areas, nothing unusual. Leaves masked a few ice spots. The long walk on the fire road was enjoyable. Many others have commented that this stretch is boring. The remnants of the Old Rag Village, the changing flora, the different view of Old Rag and the streams are all interesting. We encountered a steady flow of hikers headed up the fire road. The Ridge Trail and Saddle Trail are showing signs of overuse. The National Park Service and local Club have done a good job maintaining these trails. Unfortunately a few hikers leave litter and other evidence of their presence. I do think that if the NPS was able to maintain a presence at the entrance station during off peak times, even winter mornings, a significant amount of entrance fees would be collected. Many other reviewers have accurately summed up this hike. It is a spectacular, well worn hike w/ minimal solitude. You should be in good physical shape, have some hiking experience, be prepared, be considerate of others and respect the land.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 4, 2011
While there are some Olympic caliber trail runners who can do the circuit in far less than two hours.   A group with little children or older folks should plan on at least 5 hours.   Three hours up and two hours down.   The next few weeks will have the earliest sunsets of the year.    Unless you are comfortable hiking under headlamp it is best to clear the summit no later than around 3PM which means you need to start from the lower lot before noon.   Since your probably going to spend close to four hours driving why not spend even more time enjoying the outdoors.  Give yourself permission and time to have fun.    If your one of the lucky super fit ones who can comfortably motor along at a three hour or less circuit pace consider adding in Mt Robinson  and or Nicholson hollow to your circuit.  For those who love to push for fun be aware there are individuals who have completed THREE Old Rag circuits (close to a marathon) in a day while training for major trail runs.   While a little preachy because it is an extension of my Old Rag volunteer activities I try to give some useful advice for Old Rag visitors on my Old Rag Patrols and Hikes blog.

By: Jordan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 3, 2011
Went up the fire road from the lower lot, got up to Robertson summit in around 1:45. Went down the back saddle, fire road to Old Rag saddle trail to the summit. Fired up the grill, had lunch and went down the ridge trail. 12ish miles and 4,000' up and down. Pretty tiring but totally worth the effort. Good mountain to enjoy the area and train on.

By: Mike Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 2, 2011
Hike easily done in less than 3.5 hours, even stopped at the summit for a while.

By: Rachel H Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 26, 2011
Somehow I grew up in northern VA without ever making it out to Old Rag, but this morning I rectified this situation. It's true that there's no solitude to be found here - on this extraordinarily warm post-Thanksgiving Saturday we arrived at 7:30 am and the road up to the trailhead was already staggered with little groups trying to give space to those in front of them but also aware of those on their heels. Returning to the lower parking lot (the upper lot was closed - for the season? for good?) at 12:30, this situation was even worse, and I have no idea how anyone just arriving would be able to find a parking spot. But the crowdedness occurs because the hike really is remarkable for its incredible views on clear days and the challenging rock-scrambling shortly below the summit, which is probably why people return to this hike again and again. Despite the aching calves and what felt like an eternal walk out along the fire road, I had a great time and am glad to be able to add this to my list of memorable dayhikes.

By: Allison Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 26, 2011
Wonderful hike!! Scrambling part was intense, but awesome. Super, super crowded, but we saw TWO BEARS at the top!! Would definitely go again.

By: Don Binder Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 7, 2011
Hiked this with my 11-year-old daughter on a Monday when she was off from school. Had a wonderful time, especially with the rock scrambling, which we did both ways. Not crowded at all, and a lot of the fall leaves were still on the trees, which is unusual for the first week in November. Even stranger was the left-over snow from a week earlier--enough to make snowballs here and there to throw at each other! This is my fifth time hiking this trail, and each time has been a joy.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 7, 2011
P. S. One more note. On our way down, we saw hikers on their way up well into the afternoon. As we warned many of them, such hikers should not expect to get to the top and back down before sunset, which is now around 5 pm with the end of DST. Unless you want to hike the back end of the trail in darkness with flashlights (generally not a wise thing), the latest you should begin this hike is 11 am--and even that is pushing it!

By: Ms Rae Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 6, 2011
what a great day!  The hike was strenuous but fun none the less.  It was well marked and the views were breathtaking.  We didn't make it past the rock scramble because we didn't know if we'd make it back before sunset.  I will definitely do this one again.  There is a parking fee of $8 per person or $15 per car

By: Lisa Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Great Hike!  Awesome views! First time doing rock scrambles and bouldering and loved it!  Kinda crowded..but manageable.  Slight bits of ice and snow....made things a bit slippery in places. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Don or others attempting Old Rag in the next few days. 

This last weekend the six to eight inches of snow from two weekends ago was almost gone.    There were only a few small patches of snow left.   There were still many places where water was seeping over the trails from the snow melt.     Expect that ice patches will form every evening if the temperature goes below freezing like it did  this last weekend.    I never felt like I needed to put on my micro-spikes this last weekend but there were places on the trail that I was walking with a lot of focus so that I could avoid ice patches.  Over the next few days it looks like the lows high in the mountains will be above freezing.   For a weather forecast specific to SNP above 2,000 feet you can click on the following link:

As part of my volunteer outreach efforts I try to provide some idea about conditions (trails, seasons, crowds, weather) on my Old Rag blog but of course in winter conditions can change dramatically in a few hours time.   My Old Rag blog is found at:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 5, 2011

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 4, 2011
Planning a midweek hike on 11/9 and am very curious if there is any remaining snow or ice on the upper half / rock scramble.

By: Novice Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 3, 2011
What a wonderful hike on a beautiful fall day! Temps in the 40s in the am and the 60s in the afternoon. First time the wife and I have ever hiked this and we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent. We are in our late 40s and in good shape so we did fine but it was very tiring. There were many times I had to assist my wife and her short legs. Anyway, glad we did this hike and encourage others to do the same.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 2, 2011
For all of you researching this site in preparation for a hike this weekend, Nov 5-6. The trails in the shadows and on the NW side of the mountain are very treacherous  with packed snow and ice. While the daytime temperatures have been rising above freezing, the longer nights are well below 32. 
The result is midwinter trail conditions....  with the very high visitation that always occurs in Fall. Old Rag has been and will be colder than wherever you are coming from.

As you are aware, or should be if you are not, a slip and fall  in the scramble can have very significant consequences. Ice and snow exacerbate those slippery conditions. .. and a fall can result not only in a physical injury but a long cold wait for help.. Remember those who respond to accidents also have to deal with the ice and snow.

Please, if you are planning a circuit hike of Old Rag this weekend, bring along traction devices for your feet.. NOT crampons.. but something along the way of Kahtoola Micro-spikes...  Dress in layers, bring water and a high energy snack, and as always, use your best judgment.. give yourself permission to have a really nice day..  If you are not 100% comfortable when you begin moving past the first false summit to start the scramble.. then by all means enjoy the first false summit and head back down the Ridge Trail...
We hope you have a memorable and safe hiking day on Old Rag!

By: Jonathan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Went up the day after the region got its first snow of the season.  Coming from DC where nothing actually stuck, it didn't cross my mind that we'd be considerably challenged with 6 inches of snow on the rock scramble.  It was a little unnerving at times, but I had a blast and was glad my naivete didn't lead me to question whether or not to go up in such conditions.  Looking forward to slaying it again without the snow!

By: Jordan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Tough Hike in the snow. This is my third time taking the ridge route up this month. Two weeks ago it was 60 degrees and calm, today there were 6" of snow on the summit ridge and the wind was howling (pushing me back at times). Parts of the rock scramble were unsafe, particularly the spots that require steep, sequential scales. The exposed ledge halfway through the scramble was a little unnerving, but the snow luckily offered firm footholds. I fell several times, though made sure not to put myself in an exposed place without good holds.

Wouldn't recommend going up with this much snow on the route, though at times the firm snow made the climb easier on the joints. The contrast in summit and ridgeline views were impressive as the east valley had little to no snow. I saw about 10 groups coming down as I ascended and realized during the tricky sections of the scramble that there were substantially less tracks in the snow.

Glad I went and love the route, though I wouldn't recommend going up when the mountain has snow and ice. The more awkward parts of the scramble are pretty easy to get hurt on. A few positives in the conditions was the ability to do some quasi-glissading to speed up descent on the saddle route and less stress on the feet/knees because of the cushion of snowpack.

I'd do it again with a partner, but having a rope or a push on the steeper rock ascents is a good idea with the poor hand holds and traction.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
As prescribed on the site, we went on a weekday to avoid a crowd. It was my first time hiking: a ton of fun and a bit of difficulty. Loved it though! The views were amazing and the weather was perfect.

By: Jeremy Dautenhahn Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 23, 2011
My 2nd time on old rag this year. Over the years I have learned that there is a HUGE difference between starting the hike at 8:00 a.m. and starting at 9:00 a.m., as far as crowds go. That one hour can easily allow 50+ "casual" hikers to get in front of you. I am 2.5 hour drive away so getting there early is a challenge, but well worth it. Yesterday, we made it to the top in 2 hours and did not run into a single log jam even at the 3 to 4 places there are ALWAYS log jams. If you know the moutain, you know what I'm talking about. It was 34 degrees at the base when we started, mid 40's at the top, and 60 degrees at the bottom when we finished. Awesome day. Late October is ALWAYS the best time to hike Old Rag.

By: C&J Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 21, 2011
This hike was like hiking the beltway, complete with the traffic.  Entirely too many people, no solitude, and not worth the effort.  Many people were entirely unprepared.  Rocks were slippery and parts impassible because it was wet and worn from too many people hiking the ridge trail. 

By: gayle Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 20, 2011
It was AWESOME!!!!  This was my second time - the first being 10 years ago - amazing how much more challenging it seemed ...  even though I'm in decent shape - it definitely was more challenging at 50 than it was when I was 40!!!  Darn this growing old thing!!

One tip - get a pair of cheap work gloves from Home Depot - the kind with rubber on the palms - they are less than $4 - but on those rocks they were PRICELESS!!  The best thing that I threw in my pack!!!!

Huge thanks to our "Heroes" Dave and Mike who helped us navigate a crevice jump - amazing how your mind can psych you out on a little jump.

And to "Billy Goat" Ben - who does the hike every year and who has been up there at dark - you were an inspiration as you hopped across the rocks ahead of us.

Definitely recommend a weekday  - it was not crowded and VERY enjoyable.

I enjoyed every part of the hike - even the fire road at the end was just beautiful - the entire road was covered with golden leaves - it was like walking on the yellow brick road to Oz  ...  and then the creek was just overflowing with water from the rains the day before - the sounds of it was awesome!!! 

I savored every inch of the trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Hiking the Ridge Trail/Rock Scramble was one of the most amazing experiences of my life..I've always wondered what it would be like to be on the top of a mountain..WOW...the hike up was spectacular and the panoramic views of the valleys below were times I had to turn off the fear button..not too fond of friend Gayle and I pushed and pulled each other to the top..we had some wonderful Mountain goat climbers (Mike and Dave) that helped us over the crevice near the top..I would recommend this hike to anyone that is in decent shape and would truly love the journey up a mountain with the most amazing views you'll ever see.. I'm still basking in the wonder of it all..

I'm almost 66 years old and I did it!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
We hiked the Old Rag Mountain Trail on my birthday and it was just fabulous. The weather was beautiful, the trail was not as packed and the view and the colors of the leaves were just breathtaking. It was an experience of a life time and i am so happy that we did it. I definitely reccomend it to all my hiker friends who have not been there yet. LOVED IT :)

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Great rock scrambling experience and beautiful views!

We got started relatively early (8AM) and for the most part were able to beat the crowds.  I hiked with two other friends, all of us basically being amateurs when it comes to scrambling hikes like this one, although I hiked (read: survived) Huntingdon Ravine on Mt. Washington last year, but we were all in very good shape.  The scrambling challenged all three of us, but ultimately we passed the test quite well.  There were several different areas that forced us to pause and really think about how to get up or down.  One section in particular is pretty much hand over hand climbing, but was not at 90 degrees and wasn't very threatening in terms of a long fall, which was ideal.  We got through it surprisingly well, and ended up helping the people that let us pass them on that section.  Even when the scramble wasn't too challenging, it was still fun going through the various rock formations, like deep crevaces,  a natural staircase, a short winding cave, and ducking under overhanging boulders.  Getting to the summit was very gratifying, and we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Hawksbill Mt., Stony Man, the other mountains of the Blue Ridge, and down to the valley 2500 feet below to the east.

The fall colors were really nice, though probably one week short of their peak, but it made the switchbacks through the forest to start the hike and the switchbacks through the forest on the Saddle Trail really nice.  As we were forewarned, the fire road was pretty dull even in the fall foliage, but it was still a nice time to chat and reminisce about our accomplishments.  We did the hike in about 5 hours, with a stop at the peak, which surprised me, since, as mentioned, we were basically amateurs.

When we arrived back at the parking lot, it was completely full and a lot of people were just beginning their hike at around 1PM.  The three of us agreed that a lot of those people just arriving (especially the ones dressed for a day in the city or wearing a purse) probably did not do their homework and might not summit, or would summit but would be getting dangerously close to not finishing before nightfall.  We beat the crowds, so I can't say this from experience, but we feel like the two or three toughest sections of the scramble must back up at peak midday hiking times, almost like waiting for a Disney ride.  We saw very few people in front or behind us, but even then, we caught up to the people in front of us on the toughest part and were caught by the people behind us on the same part, so given how many cars we saw in the parking lot and the amount of people that had just entered the Ridge Trail when we got back, its hard to imagine it doesn't back up.

It is a great hike and if you are in good shape and either have experience scrambling or know you'd be able to make a couple technical hand-over-hand moves without too much trouble and without getting psyched out, this is a must-try.  However, several recommendations/observations:

-Start before 9AM on a weekend.  It is worth it to not have to fight for parking and to be able to go at your own speed and have some solitude at the peak.  Also, in the fall where daylight runs out before 7, don't plan to summit if you arrive after 1, unless you've done Old Rag before and know you can do it in time.  Even then, I've gotta think you'll get behind people and be controlled somewhat by the speed everyone else is going on the scramble.  You never want to plan a hike that finishes within an hour of nightfall, because you never know what can go wrong.

-Long legs are an advantage.  The 5'3" girl in our group had a distinct disadvantage.  She did fine, but had to work harder at the climbing sections to make it.  Not saying don't do it if you're short.  Basically just an observation, you can still do all of it regardless, but it takes more effort, and if not good with technical climbing moves, maybe a bit of help

-There really aren't any sections that put you precariously on the edge of a cliff or large drop.  Slightly scary thing for some might be a couple short jumps over crevaces.  They are all easily doable but some people get nervous about those things anyway.

-If the scramble sounds too tough but you have the endurance to hike a long way, you can still summit Old Rag via the fire road and Saddle Trail, but it is the long way around so allow a little more time, and I'd still recommend starting before 9 on a weekend to assure getting a parking spot.

-Budget some time to also drive Skyline Drive.  Although crowded just like Old Rag at peak times, it is spectacular and worth the time and effort.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 10, 2011
This was an excellent hike with great views, especially with the foliage turning already in the higher elevations. As everyone else mentions, the trail gets full very quickly. I left the lower parking area around 7 and there were only 5 or 6 other cars, but by the time I got to the top the summit was packed and it was difficult to find a spot to sit and enjoy the views. There was nowhere out of hearing distance of other peoples' conversations... why was everyone talking about work on their day off? I'll never understand some people.

The "rock scrambles" are challenging enough to be a good time, but every obstacle is highly doable with a little forethought. You're rewarded with premium views as you get higher, so it makes any hardship worthwhile.

The trail back along the fire road was a bit tedious. If you wore heavy hiking boots (as I did) this would be a good time to change into sneakers or lower trail shoes, because walking all that way on mostly flat ground in heavy boots was pretty uncomfortable.

I wish I had arrived earlier in the morning to avoid the summit crowd, but it seems like this peak is too popular for its own good.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 9, 2011
Great hike, even if a bit crowded. In a few more weeks the leaves will be perfect.

I'm writing this in hope that someone found the camera I lost that day. It's a Canon Powershot and was in a black case that could be worn on the belt of a backpack. I lost it up in the "rock scramble" part of the hike.

Please respond if you found it!

By: Theresa Ellis Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 18, 2011
My blog says it all:

Great experience.  Families and low impact hikers should use Weakley Hollow Fire Road to the Saddle Trail.

Physically fit and hard core hikers should try Ridge Trail.

Go early to avoid crowds and wear layered clothing for climate changes and protection. 

Take plenty of water and a camera for the fantastic scenery.

By: Eric J Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2011
Left the lower parking lot at 3:35 AM and arrived at the summit at 6:15 AM in time for an amazing sunrise.  I can't thank the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group on Meet-Up enough for organizing this trip because I have wanted to do this night hike for a long time now.  Lots of fun going through the rock scramble in the dark and having the summit to ourselves was an added bonus to our early start.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 4, 2011
Hiked from Saturday night at 7PM with my 11 year old daughter. We climbed to within about 30 minutes of the sign that says "no camping beyond this point" on Saturday, then set up the bear bag and tent. Got some great views above the clouds on a misty dreary evening. Camped where there was room for our 2-person tent on a reasonably flat section off the trail. Hikers went past later with their headlamps, as late as 11PM, amazingly.

In the middle of the night, starting at 3 or 3:15 we had the sunrise-watchers hiking by and it was hard to keep sleeping. But, exhausted as I was I rested pretty well - it was my daughter who had dreams about bears and rattlesnakes!

We packed camp at 6:30 and had breakfast at the scenic lookout where the sign mentioned above is. Then continued through the rock scramble with our packs on. Thankfully, at several spots where the scramble was tough, we had some fellow hikers to help hand off my slightly-built daughter. It was a pretty warm Labor Day weekend, so I was sweating pretty good by the time we were nearing the top, so I took a break. My daughter was very brave to take this on with a backpack that was relatively full-size for her, and we agreed that her brothers needed to do this hike with full packs someday, if they're manly at all.

Had lunch at the crowded summit the "Disney lines" formed up as folks caught up to us, and it got worse and worse, so we didn't stay at the top long. Saw some Boy Scouts repairing the Byrd's Nest shelter as an Eagle project - now that's brave! - to carry all that wood up that steep section from the end of the fire road looked like a real challenge.

The fire road was a welcome gentle downslope for my daughter (and I!) after going through the scramble. A fabulous hike, well worth the effort, and we're going back with the boys (15 and 16 now, as I review this in August 2012) soon.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Hiked this today with my husband and four kids (ages: 5, 7, 9, 11). We had a great time. The kids did fine though the rock scramble along the Ridge Trail was very hard on this mother's nerves. I had last hiked this as a teenager and had forgotten how scary parts of the rock scramble are. Nine miles is a long way for anyone, but thankfully, the last 3 or 4 are really easy. Would not recommend for a child less than 7. Also, it was very helpful to have 2 adults helping with the kids through the tricky parts. From the lower parking lot up the ridge trail to the summit and back down the fire road it took us five hours total.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 25, 2011
OK, this is now my favorite challenging hike. Similar, in challenge, to Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas. Brisk pace allowed me to summit in 2 hours, not much dallying on the demanding rock scramble (about 1 hour of the hike up). I spent an hour at the top, probably saw only a dozen other hikers in that hour, and 1 Ranger. Easily decided that the circuit (Saddle and Fire trails) hike would be too boring, so I went down the ridge trail (rock scramble, again)to take pictures and enjoy the many view points, taking care, and my time, and chatting with the oncoming traffic. I reached the end of the scramble and photo shoot at 2:45. Saw the path dog (F. O. ? :)), then headed down through the forest. The storm hit. HARD. Heavy rain, lightning, and thunder, directly overhead! Soaked in a matter of minutes. Another memorable facet of a wonderful hike. I will do this hike any time I'm within 2 hours drive and have a free day in my schedule.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 20, 2011
Hike @ Old Rag mountain is my first hiking experience and I loved it...Initially I felt that I may not be able to complete it but when rock cramble hike started...I really enjoyed it and got excited to complete the Hike.

Views are awesome!!!!!

I went with friends (group of 8) and had so much fun..I luv to go there again and again....

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 12, 2011
I've hiked about 50 hikes now, and this is the second time I hiked Old Rag, this time the correct way. (as opposed to backwards) Just like last time the view in the end just isn't that good, and I can't understand why everyone thinks it is. Ive seen better views on other hikes. Moreover, just like last time, the entire world is up there. Last time it was virtually a kegger on top, complete with music and drinking. This time it was girls talking VERY LOUDLY about boys they dated. It's virtually impossible to appreciate nature up there with all of that going on.... very annoying.

I personally am not of fan of the rock scrambles. The reason why is the same as above- too many people hiking them. The granite is getting worn smooth on the more difficult areas and is in many places slick. On one of them my foot gave way and I fell 5 feet and busted my knee open. Fortunately I wasn't hurt too badly and continued on my way. Inexperienced hikers, out of shape hikers, and hikers without adequate footwear should not venture on to the rock scramble. It's really not safe.

I just think this hike is way to much effort (hardest one I do), a little too dangerous, and a little to time consuming for a less than adequate payoff. (way down on my list of great views.) I probably won't hike it again....

By: DC Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Great hike. We had a blast doing the rock scramble. I will say the hike back on the Fire Road is the most boring hike of my life!

We started 9:00 A.M. and got back to the car at 2:20 P.M. The lot had only a handful of cars when we started, but when we got back it was full. Theme of story: get their early, less packed.

If your not in the best of shape make sure you have others to help you. We had to help a few hikers thru the rock scramble. Most people are very friendly. All in all it was a good hike. I look forward to doing it in the fall.

By: ZACK MCDANIEL Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 7, 2011

By: M Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 30, 2011
A very challenging hike on a well marked trail. The vistas at the top are absolutely amazing. I choose this trail as a workout and made the entire trip in about 3.5 hours, including a short 10 min break at the top and a few stops for pictures. I also walked/jogged most of the way down the last half, especially the fire trail. If one is going to take in the scenery, I'd recommend planning for a 5-6 hour hike. I started around 8 am and there were already a couple of groups at the top. B the time I returned the parking lot was nearly full with more cars arriving. I recommend getting the parking lot as early as possible if one would like some moments of solitude during the hike. The ranger staff is very friendly and helpful and most of the other folks I met along the way were nice too. The rock scramble is fun but no joke if you are not in shape.

By: Todd B Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 17, 2011
What a day!  I hiked old rag circuit for the 4th time but first with 8 kids.  Great weather and while the parking lot was crowded not too bad at all.  Stream was very low.  The hike seemed very hard today, not sure if age or heat, but when I did this a few years back I don't remember the effort to go from the first peak to the final summit.  Very Bad accident on the road to Sperryville, a car went off the road, looked like a couple of people were killed, brought back reality a little too quickly.

By: Heather D. Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 14, 2011
This was an amazing hike, done (luckily) on a day with beautiful weather, not very hot and incredibly clear to take in all of those stunning views. Also, the mountain was not very crowded. I recommend going on a weekday. Of special note, we descended in the a later afternoon (around 5 o'clock) and saw a black bear in the woods near the Weakley Hollow fire road. A really exciting day!

By: Rob Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 10, 2011
My son and I hiked up Old Rag Mountain this past Sunday, 10 July 2011. We arrived at the Old Rag lower parking lot just before 8:30 am. I was somewhat surprised by the number of cars already present. There was even a waiting line at the three porta-johns. I was not expecting to pay a fee, but a friendly ranger informed me that it would only cost me $8.00 since kids under 16 are free to hike. I paid in cash, but they do take credit cards. I started off with my 100 oz. CamelBak water pack and my son (11 years old) carried 60 oz. of water.

To access the trailhead, we had to continue walking along the road from the lower parking lot. It then turns off to the left and leads up to the upper parking lot (closed to cars) which is where the trailhead is accessed from. It&rsquos almost a mile walk.

Upon arrival at the trailhead, I took a quick look at the posted trails. We had the choice of doing the shorter &ldquoA” route, which is up to the summit via the Ridge Trail and then back down the same way or the longer &ldquoB” route, which goes to the top via the Ridge Trail and then continues on along the other side of the mountain via the Saddle Trail and then joins up with the Weakley Hollow Fire Road which leads back to the start.

We chose to do the longer 7.2 mile route &ldquoB” loop. The advantage of doing the longer loop route is that you don&rsquot have to descend back through the rock climbing obstacles along the ridge. It&rsquos not that the climbing is technical (although it could be for some depending on skill level), however this is a very busy route and unless you do this hike very early in the morning, you&rsquoll be sure to encounter hikers trying to come up when you&rsquore going down.

The hike starts off along a nice forested path with plenty of shade. It&rsquos a steady incline that quickly gets steeper.  There are a number of switch backs and we soon got a glimpse of below.  After about two miles of hiking we reached a rocky overlook. At first I thought we were near the summit, but looked to the right and saw that there was higher ground ahead.

The trail continued on along a rocky ridge with some very interesting rock cracks and rock faces to navigate. At several points, we had to wait for other hikers to get down through or over an obstacle. My son thoroughly enjoyed this part of the hike.  Once again, we reached an overlook that at first I thought was the top, but then realized that there was yet more high ground ahead. At this point there were quite a few people who stopped here for a rest, however we chose to hike on to the top.

Not too much further along, we finally came to a sign pointing to the summit of Old Rag. There are a number of very large boulders at the top and we climbed up the one that we judged to be the highest. The top of the boulder we climbed up had several small pools of stagnant water on it that attracted a lot of yellow jacket bees. However, they didn&rsquot bother us as they were more interested in the water.

After climbing the boulders on the summit, I stretched out on a big rock slab in the sun and took off my right boot. I noticed my heel was getting a little sore and sure enough on further inspection found a good quarter size open blister. Fortunately, a fellow hiker from Billerica, Massachusetts saw my dilemma and offered some &ldquomoleskin” bandage material.

We both headed down the Saddle Trail towards the Byrds Nest Shelter. At this point, we were both out of water, but of course the rest of the hike was all downhill so it wasn&rsquot too bad. With the aid of gravity, it was a quick hike down past both shelters and to the junction where we picked up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. It was a nice walk down the fire road, but it seemed to go on an on.

After about four and half hours from the start, we finally arrived back at the start of the trailhead. We continued back down to the lower parking lot. Back at the car we were happy to finally get out of the hiking boots and drink some cold water from our cooler. We&rsquore looking forward to hiking Old Rag again this fall when the trees turn color and of course its cooler out.

To check out my photos of Old Rag and other trails, please visit my blog at:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 9, 2011
As my initial hike this season, I found Old Rag to be quite challenging for a 60 year old man.  My Grandson went with me and lead most of the way.  He was my inspiration to continue the hike after my legs wanted to return to the car.  However, the views from the top are well worth the effort.  A great day in the field with my Grandson!  We are going to do it again in the fall, when the leaves change should be another great hike!

By: Al Rios Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 9, 2011
I've been hiking Old Rag since 1999, and thoroughly enjoy it each time. At 57, the full-body workout is much welcomed and needed, and the opportunity to meet very interesting people is a definite plus. A lady from Denmark commented that she tries to climb a mountain in every country she visits, and Old Rag ranks at the very top of the list for its mixture of hiking and scrambling.

By: Robert Drejer Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 8, 2011
Hiked up Old Rag yet again and I'm still always seeing or ending up with something different to do. Large fog banks were rolling in most of the morning with the entire summit covered in fog by noon. Not much in the way of views because of the fog and later on, clouds. On the way back down (on the Ridge Trail) it started raining, making for some rather slippery and downright dangerous sections of rock scramble. The rain continued until well after making it back to the parking area. Still better than hiking it in the snow though.

By: Tony E. Senter Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 5, 2011
This was the most intense thing I have ever done. I was terrified of heights and had know idea of the things i would meet on the trail. I had to stop and pray several times at several points of the rock scramble but once i put satan and the fear he placed in me behind me i was on my way. I conquered my fear of heights and many other things on this hike so it was the best hike I have ever been on.

By: Allison from St. Louis Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 27, 2011
We picked a great day for this hike, as the temps were decent and the trail was not very crowded. This mountain kicked both my husband's and my butt, but it was totally worth it!! The rock scramble is an awesome workout. Bring lots of snacks with you as you will get hungry. I would love to do this again!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 25, 2011
Like others have said it really is best to arrive early. We got there around 9 am and the parking lot was nearly full. We were shocked by some of the other hikers who came in sandals with very little water. These were the people that we passed very quickly. I was with a very good hiker and we finished the entire loop it about 4 hours with lunch at the top. We were really moving. We got caught behind a large group of scouts who after a while let us pass. We figured out it was best just to kindly ask to pass just about everyone we came up on. The views are truly great but don't press your luck- it can get pretty dangerous. Don't try the rock hopping unless you really know you can make it. The rocks up there are not a place to showoff. We saw the rangers going up to help someone who got a little too frisky. Also- I recommend bringing a ton of water because it can be very physically challenging for those not in shape.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I've literally hiked this trail approximately 100 times in the last 20 years, with a few years where I was driving up from DC every weekend for months.

This is the best hike on the East Coast, I think. It's a loop, so no backtracking, the rock scramble is very fun, and the whole thing is a class act all the way.

I have a buddy and we do it as a race. My best time is 1 hour 21 minutes 40 seconds, which consisted of a 45:20 ascent. This requires running the entire thing, which is very challenging. Now that we're in our 40s with kids, we train for our races (which are much more few and far between). We're doing it again this weekend and I'm aiming to beat 1:20 and really wishing I can make it under 1:15.

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 12, 2011
One of my all time favorite hikes, Old Rag does not disappoint. Arrived early on Sunday, pulling into the parking lot at 7:00 AM. For a weekend, the trial was suprisingly uncrowded and we saw only four other hikers on our assent. Enjoyed about 20 minutes on the summit with no other hikers around, a rare treat. The hike down the fire roads, while less adventurous than the assent, is underrated. The tree canopy is magnificent, the road is easy on the feet and it is a nice way to wind down the more grueling first half.

Saw more folks in the early afternoon, including folks heading up from the parking lot in flip flops with only one small bottle of water...not good.The rock scramble is challenging, so if you have issues with upper body strength, you may want to reverse this hike and do it as an out & back up the back side of the mountain.

This is a fun, but serious hike. Wear proper footwear and bring plenty of water, especially if it is 3 liter camelback served me well. Trial mix or other portable high energy snacks are a must as well to keep your energy levels up.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 4, 2011
This was my first hike at Old Rag and I arrived at 7:20AM on a Saturday. There were already about 30 cars at the parking lot. The weather was beautiful and temperature for that date was 60F-80F. I took short breaks to take pictures and 30 min lunch break and it took about 6 hours. Even though it was not hot that day, I drank 2.5L of water. I heard people saying they ran out of water even before the summit so make sure you bring plenty of water. Don't forget bug spray also because bugs are constantly attacking you. The hiking was not that hard and but my hands were scratched from rock scrambling. I will wear gloves next time. The return trip to parking lot via the fire road was boring so I played games on my cellphone and almost stepped on a black snake.

By: Bill Jackson Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 2, 2011
This is truly on of the best hikes in Virginia. While it is a rigorous hike you can stop if you get winded. I have hiked it 7 times over the last 20 years and never get tired of the beautiful view at the summit. this time I hiked it with my wife and afterwords we stayed at new Luxury Yurts that just got built close to the trail head you get to off of 670 (Old Blue Ridge Turnpike) they are called the Cabins at Rose River Farm-- you pass them on the way in. They have a great website. Anyway, relaxing and spending the night instead of driving back to DC was a great move!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 30, 2011
The first part of the hike was great, but went downhill pretty quickly after we hit the summit. If I could do it all over again, here is what I would change...(see below)

 I realize some of this might be "no-brainer" type of stuff for seasoned hikers so bear with me, I'm a first timer )

Appropriate shoes/clothing -  Shoes that are light and have a thick sole are best. Wear two pairs of light socks to help prevent blisters. I wore hiking boots with a pair of thick running socks, and I got the biggest blister known to man on the back of my foot. My advice for apparel would be to wear non-constraining clothing that you can contort your body into various positions without being uncomfortable. You will be required to do a lot of rock climbing on the summit.

Time of year - I would go in the Fall when it is more amicable weather. The 45 minute rock climbing at the summit in the beating down sun was strenuous and caused us to drink more water than normal.

Sunscreen - Make sure you bring the most powerful sunscreen you own, and continuously apply it every 3-4 hours. You will be sweating like crazy, so that is why you have to keep applying it.

Water - We brought 3 liters of water, all of which were completely gone by the time we got to the summit. We met other hikers on the trail who also ran out of water. My advice would be to buy one of those camelpacks with the big water pouch, then bring several extra liters just in case.

Food - We brought some beef jerky and some fruit which was not nearly enough for a 6 hour hike. And yes, it is going to take you six hours. I seriously don't know how some of the people on this site can complete this hike in 4 hours. It took us 3 hours to get to the summit, and we moved pretty quickly.

Insect Repellent - There are a lot of bugs on this trail. Make sure you get some heavy duty Deep Woods OFF or something like that before going. We were continuously spraying insect repellent on us during the entire hike, and we still got attacked repeatedly by the bugs. We saw some people with head nets, which I thought was a great idea. It makes the hike a lot more comfortable when you don't have bugs buzzing around your head and ears the whole time.

Skip the Fire Road - Although the road had some picturesque streams and small waterfalls, it was never-ending and boring. We were exhausted and dehydrated by the time we got to the Fire Road, so we just wanted to get back to the car. My advice would be to go back down the same blue trail you used to get to the summit.

I hope this was helpful to all of you out there!

By: PeterwithouthisdogJordie Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 30, 2011
I hiked Old Rag for the first time yesterday. I did it on the fly, realizing that since I can't take my dog with me that I would rather hike when there were a lot of people around- and there were a LOT (there was only one space in the parking lot when I arrived). I started the hike about 1:30 in the afternoon. Suprisingly, most people are heading down at that point. I didn't take the route to the rock scramble, actually mistaking that where everyone was exiting (the fire road) was the way to go up. I ended up going exactly backward, which I think wasn't nearly as hard as going the other way. Once at the top, there was enough time to take many pics and head downward. It's extremely beautiful up there, and well worth the effort. I have to say this though, I saw several people who had some issues on the hike. This is one that you should not do without doing some hiking elsewhere to condition yourself for it, as it is a difficult hike. I have to say that I have done some pretty challenging hikes in the past, but this was the first time that I used all of the water in my CamelBak, two miles before the hike was finished . I had a great time, and met someone whom I hiked the way back with, and we might be hiking together again in the future. All in all a great day!

By: Rena Marie Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 27, 2011
This was an awesome hike! My boyfriend has done it before, trail running up until the rock climb, and then runnning back down through the fire road. We took the same route. We started around 10am, and finished at 3pm. We we weren't going to do the whole thing, just climb to the top and turn right back around. But once we got to the summit, my legs were done and I would have had to use all upper body strength. So we took the the fire road back. We ran some of the way down and took a break by the Hazel River for a cool down. We've done plenty of hikes and climbs together, but this one was amazing. We saw deer, black rat snakes, a black bear and falcons, who were out feeding their babies, which was scary since I'm afraid of birds. Overall, it was a great day. Will be heading back real soon!

By: Les Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 26, 2011
I suffered due to the heat and not being in the shape I remember being in, but took plenty of breaks. About 6 hours round trip, up the scramble and down the fire road. It was the first time, but won't be the last time I hike this route.

One comment: Porta-potties in the parking lot were in sorry shape. Not vandalism, but they desperately needed emptying.... Didn't seen any particular signs of graffiti, vandalism, trash, or people blazing new trails.

By: Big J Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 26, 2011
This is an amazingly fun hike! We were camping at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park and the drive to the trailhead took about an hour. We started at about 8:15 and completed the hike at about 1:30. We took 4-5 short breaks and spent about 30 minutes on the summit. My wife and I went through about 5 liters of water. It was a hot day (90 + degrees) but it was significantly cooler on the summit. The rock scramble is really fun and mildly challenging. There were 4-5 other groups that were in the area but but most of the hike we did not see them. I recommend a weekday hike if you want to avoid crowds. I will definitely return to do this awesome hike again someday.

By: Jeremy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Got to the lower lot at 8:30 am which is about 30-45 min later than I would have liked as the lot was already jammed full. But being a beautiful Sat in May I expected it to be crowded regardless. I thought the trail was in excellent shape. Really only ran into two log jams where the total wait time was about 25 min combined, so not that bad. I love this whole hike except for the fire road. Although the scenery along the fire road is nice and the stream is beautiful, 2.5 miles of walking on a dirt road is not what I drove 2+ hours for. But as always, Old Rag is a great hike.

By: Stephen Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 20, 2011
This is my first time doing this hike.

Got to the parking lot around 7:30 AM.  It was a Friday, and there was only one other car in the lot.

Went clockwise, which I think is good as the second half is easier, and my legs were kind of shot from the rock scramble on the way up.  The fire road is a good way to end the long hike.

This is my first real rock scramble in decades. There were some parts that I found challenging, and I was a bit surprised by this.  Perhaps next time it won't seem so hard, since I know what to expect.  I was with my 18 yo daughter, who jokingly remaked that our ability to scramble up the rocks was "pathetic" compared to her friends...

The views were great from the top, and you pass a very scenic river on along the fire road (it ws raging today)..

The Rag Mountains Stewards post below scared me a bit, but I saw very little trash or destruction, and thought the trail was in fairly good shape, especially considering its popularity, but what do I know?  A hearty thank you to those who help maintain it.

We saw no on the entire hike, except for a backpack and a climbing rope going over the edge of one of the minor summits.

By the time we got back to the parking lot, there were a LOT of cars there (maybe 50?).

The Garmin said 9.29 miles, and it took 4:23.  We did not rush, but we did not daudle.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 8, 2011
I met a very distraught gentleman the other day... He's a neighbor to Old Rag... He was concerned about all the trash  and food left "all over the mountain".... and he went on and on.. I explained to him that one of the purposes of the ORMS program was to attempt to educate the hikers and climbers on Old Rag about the impact of their ways... and their careless laziness.... and the hazards to both the mountain's ecosystem and to their safety.

As one of the posters below noted so well... this is not your urban, neighborhood park.... this is a National Park and designated by Congress as "wilderness area." We are so lucky to have this resource so close by!

Each year, the Stewards are on the mountain more than 40 days .. some of us are up there more than 50 times, each, per year.  From my recent observations and discussions with other Stewards and "neighbors to the mountain"..


I would like to think the gentleman's concern from the other day was an exaggeration... but it's not.
The amount of human waste, used toilet paper, trash, and food scraps (all on the TRAIL!!!) is disgusting.
The destroyed saplings, the stripped trees, the new, unauthorized social trails (which are eroding like crazy), the signs (graffiti) written on the rocks, the vandalized privy ....  Sounds like a wonderful place for a family hike, huh??
(by the way.. the NPS SAR gear storage near the summit is NOT a bathroom!!!)

The bottom line is that it is AMAZING how much destruction is being done on Old Rag by folks who supposedly come to enjoy the wilderness experience.
The ORMS program was created as a way to help keep the NPS from restricting visitorship to Old Rag. We are trying to be proactive with the public as well as provide first response for accidents... but we can only be effective in that mission if the visiting public responds..
It is very sad to see how much abuse is being dished out on Old Rag by lazy, sloppy, careless visitors.. for more images .. see our blog

Please, enjoy your hike on Old Rag! But make sure you take your trash and waste with you, so that tomorrow's visitor  has the same incredible experience as you do!
Good, informed mental and physical preparation will make a world of difference in the experience for both you and your group.. AND the people who come out next week!

Have fun!
.. and be safe!

By: Daniel Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 30, 2011
Weather was perfect! In the 60s all the way to the top. Hiked clock-wise, up the ridge trail with a few switchbacks, then rock scramble, then peak, then down the other side. A few things: Some of the reviews below are obviously written by people who don't do much hiking. There are really not that many switchbacks going up on the ridge trail. It's fairly steep, but nothing out of the ordinary for HIKING UP A MOUNTAIN, which some people seem to forget when they try to assess the difficulty. So if you have never HIKED UP A MOUNTAIN before, just realize that doing this is harder than just taking some nice stroll in the woods. For those of you who are used to this, Old Rag presents no unusual difficulty, other than the rock scrambling, which is simply awesome.

If you have never rock scrambled, this is a great introduction. You might feel a little scared on a few of the challenges, but it's a great feeling when you figure it out, like a little puzzle that has several solutions. Just take your time do not rush you can do it. If you don't know how to tackle some of them, wait until someone passes you and see how they do it.

About half way through the rock scrambles you'll have constant scenic vistas all the way to the top. Stunning on a clear day. The top was pretty crowded when we went, but it was a weekend in spring, so nothing unexpected. Once we left the top we were back to our usual leapfrogging situation with a few other hikers. Going down on the other side wasn't as interesting as the other side of the mountain (ridge trail), and the beating on our ankles and knees began to hurt once we were on the fire road. However, there is still plenty to appreciate all around you, including a beautiful stream, several crossings, the forest with all its variety of foliage, and the aching satisfaction of having hiked an 8-9 mile loop up a mountain and back.

The upper parking area is closed to the general public, so you have to hike 0.8-0.9 miles in to the trailhead. I can't imagine what it must have been like before they closed the upper parking area! So just be prepared that you're actually hiking and walking around 9-10 miles total. Also, be sure to eat enough fuel and water on your way up. I chugged a half-liter before we started, and had two liters on the way, which wasn't quite enough, not for me at least.

By: localhillbilly Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 2, 2011
Either it's the testosterone talking or an April fools joke... some  people can, but most can't, hike 9 miles of steep mountain with a rock scramble in 3 hours... sorry Devon... gotta call ya on it. (one-way maybe.. but not round trip)
4 hours is a maybe. but still it may be the testosterone talking .. (Old Rag IS a well-known testosterone vortex) but as the hosts of this site have indicated.. allow yourselves at least 5 or six hours... take time to enjoy it!
On weekends, if you start after 9 in the morning or so, especially now that warmer weather is here, there ain't no way you can hit that time without shoving folks outta yer way.
So now that the busy times are here, remember this...
-do yer pooping and peeing BEFORE you git on the trail.... or be set to hold it until you get to the privy... FOUR hours away.
-Take at least 3 jugs o water per person.
-Dress for the weather.. remember it ain't as warm up thar on the mountain as it is in downtown anycity VA/MD/DC...  (especially DC or Fredericksburg!) I have seen sleet and cold up until June!
-If you see an area blocked or fenced off... well  don't go thar.. that includes my yard. (I shoot). Most of them places are fenced to protect special plants or prevent serious erosion.
 -If y'aint never been there, and don't know where yer goin' , ask BEFORE you leave the area of the park service entrance shack... don't wait until the summit or dark to start trying to figger out where yer supposed to be goin.
-Don't t take yer daggone dogs up there!!! There are signs everywhere telling you not to... I can't take mine, you can't take yers.
-Don't try to park yer BMW on the side of the road.. that's the road I use to git the ole lady to and from the store.. It says no parking... I'll  tow ya away behind my John Deere if you do.
- and for pet's sake remember this.. it's a goshdern NATIONAL PARK..   prepare for it! don't be traipsing around like y'aint never been outside before... this ain't no city park with low cut grass and a parks  and rec staff just waiting to help you out of any little old fix you find yerself in... no it aint.
Have a nice hike... if you see me out in the yard stop and say hi... but don't cross the fence.
I'll shoot ya.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 1, 2011
They were serious about the rock part! I went up Strickler's Knob a couple weeks ago which was also described as a "rock scramble" and it was simple, so I didn't think there would be any problem tackling this one the morning after a snow. The rocks were coated in ice and in many places slipping off them would have lead to serious injury. Once I realized what I had gotten myself into I considered turning back. But the idea of going down that crap sounded scarier than continuing up. Take caution anyone who plans on doing the rocks after a snow. At least go with a buddy.

The rocks when you get near to the top are really amazing. I recognized a lot of it from the pictures here, but the pictures just cant do justice to the size and power of them. Its also hard to describe how cool it is to walk through the winding tunnels the boulders make.

The views live up to their reputation. The trail up the east side has well-laid cutbacks, not too long and shallow, but never very steep either. The Byrd shelter was cute and I enjoyed myself for a few minutes by the fire with a group that had spent the previous night there. It was nice to hike along the river that the fire road follows, though I think the steel bridges take something away from the ambiance.

All in all a pretty wonderful hike. My only complaint is that it's so short, though I guess you can add whatever peaks the trails off the fire road lead to.

Took 4 hours, but in good weather I'd say plan on 3.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Definitely my favorite hike around. Me and a few other friends chose a day that happened to have some light snow for our hike. This was my second time going and i'm glad we chose the day that we did. While the snow made the rocks a bit treacherous, it added to the adventure and the views were incredible. The most amazing part was the view of the forest floor under light snow in the earlier paths. By time we got to the fire road, the snow had cleared and the sun was out. We were all totally satisfied. I highly recommend hiking on a winter day, at least once.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 25, 2011
Did rock scramble clockwise with group of 6. After a number of fall hikes in both directions and via White Oak Canyon, this is my first time for a spring hike there and was surprised to find weekday parking lot 50% at 9AM and 75% full on return.

This type of heavy traffic over the years has paid a toll on the climbing parts of the rocks leaving footholds as slick as worn granite courthouse steps, making it difficult if not dangerous. There must be a way that PATC or SNP can rough up the step areas with a chipping hammer for better traction. At Mount Desert Island , Bar Harbor Maine, iron ladder rungs have been installed on Beehive Mtn and others to aid hikers up and over the bolders.

For historical interest, I'm forwding 2 B&W photos from Oct 1968 for posting. These show the stairway without a bolder. Not sure of the date, but think that bolder fell in the 1970's. Awesome, the power of nature!

By: Waggoner Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 19, 2011
Took a group of 6 Boy Scouts out on an adventure. We traversed clockwise on the loop, which is what I think was best for them (12-15 yrs old).  They saw the first part as a plain, ordinary hike but when we got to the rock scrambles things changed.  Most of the boys saw it as an adventure, but I did have one that it became a means to learn the "I can do it!"  The fire road was a great ending to ease to the end.

The weather was decent with high 30's in the AM and probably low 60's mid-day.  The trail has seen probably too much traffic in some areas seeing that it was near 6 foot across.  There are many points near the top with cheater trails.  To all, please remember trail etiquetee.

All in all, this was a great hike...   PS. Leave No Trace

By: indiana_jones Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 12, 2011
I owned old rag like a boss! With my bad knee, i was able to do it today in 5 hours which isn' t too bad...went in the morning, several people beat me there, i was there at 7:30 am. there is still ice on the trail, on the "cold" side of the path if going counterclockwise you'll see a lot. on the warm side of the path going clockwise you will find some ice......I seen a lot of people going up slippery ice rock today on one of the obstacles.... DON'T DO IT! that's the place someone could break a leg or something else. its the boulder with a gap that you have to go wayyyy up using the gap. it would be much smarter to use the dry rock next to it (like i did), two handholds and a foot and you can do it yourself with no help. stay safe. other than that... the other obstacles weren't much of a with a bad knee, i was able to scramble on all 4's and slide down on my rear end (wore jeans just for that purpose...). so considering the ice and my bad knee, 5 hours wasn't too shabby (this including a 30 minute lunch on the summit enjoying the view). great hike! the rock scrambling is a lot, perhaps more than you may think. you do not have to jump between the huge rocks before the summit, there is a bypass trail.... so look for it if u have bad body parts that don't like to jump. this is the old peoples friendly writeup for this hike :-) take a walking stick, may be the extra one at trailhead. good times.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 6, 2011
This was my second time up this year. Did the standard route, starting around 10am and returning around 2:30pm. 4.5 hours seemed a bit long, as we hit a few bottlenecks during the rock scramble. Hiked it solo in 3.5 hours on a Sunday a few weeks ago, but started up the trail around 7am that time, and wish we had done the same this time. It really is great having the summit to yourself.

We would also get stuck behind a group of climbers for a couple minutes at a time on the way up the first two miles. Note to slower climbers, if someone is on your tail, please step aside and let them pass, it's pretty simple. The weather was terrible, a slight drizzle and very windy at the top, but even that couldn't stop us from enjoying the great experience that is Old Rag. Can't wait to climb again! 4 out of 5 only because of the bottlenecks. Other than that, this hike would be perfect.

By: AnnMav Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 5, 2011
I have done this hike twice and should have only done it once.  It is VERY dangerous with the rock scramble on the way to the top, especially if there is any moisture on the rocks.  For the thrill-seekers, there is not shortage of times when you will say to yourself 'I could break my leg or arm if I misjudge a rock/jump/step.'  There are a lot of great hikes in the region, but Old Rag will not be a repeat.  It's also shocking how many parents bring their young children on such a dangerous hike.  I honestly don't know why it's so highly rated.    

By: Randy Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 27, 2011
Hiked this with my son yesterday.  I'm in very good cardio shape for a 48 year old and my son of 17 is as well.  We headed out from the lower parking lot at 10:20am and made it back to the car 5 hours later at 3:20pm.  Neither of us are "hikers", but we really enjoyed the mountain.  My sons favorite was the rock scramble.  I must admit I really enjoyed it as well.  The climb up wasn't too difficult though we did push pretty hard, only taking 3 brief rests.  Any less conditioned and there would have been many more breaks taken for sure.  We took the clockwise direction which was ~2 miles upward zigzag to the rocks, .9 miles over, around, under and through the rocks to the summit, and then 4.5 miles back down to the upper parking lot.  From there it is .8 miles back to the lower parking lot where everyone parks.  The last 2 miles seemed to take forever on the fireroad and this is where my son and I really started feeling our legs and feet.  Thank goodness for ibuprofin.:)  We both packed out with 2 liters of water, fruit, sandwiches and other snacks.  You need plenty of fuel for this one.  Will I do it again?  Definitely!  Will my son?  He says yes, but he said he would go back down the same way we went up because it is a shorter distance and he likes the rocks.  We saw less than 20 people all day, so this would work if not crowded, however going against the flow on a busy day would not work.  Enjoy!

By: Scyth3 Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, February 21, 2011
Hiked it with my brother this morning. Very scenic, and an excellent mountain hike. As stated by the person below, if you're elderly, have small children, or are grossly out of shape, I wouldn't do the rock scramble. Now, on to the hike. There was maybe 50 or so people on the actual trail, which is opposite from spring/summer/fall (when the lot fills up). The trail is fairly easy until you get to the rock scramble, which is hands down the best part of the trail. I wear a 3L camelbak, and it rubbed up tightly on a few of the obstacles. So, if you don't like holding on to rocks, lowering yourself down, and squeezing through narrow areas -- this hike might not be the best choice for you. Other then that, great scenic views. A great winter hike, but I avoid it in the summer due to the traffic it brings in.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 20, 2011
Very scenic!  But - The clockwise side of this loop from the beginning of the rocks to the summit is not for the average hiker! Going up the rocks and crevices to reach the summit on the clockwise route should not be attempted by small kids, elderly, those with inuries, or overweight people who do not workout - they will not make it.  Take lots of snacks / carbs and water.  We had to take our packs off and pass them up at many places.  We also had to and help each other up many times.  Several spots require hands and the entire body to navigate an obstacle.   Many places to slip and fall if you are not careful.  This was fun and demanding but I just want to caution others that they may need to take the counter-clockwise route to the summit and back instead of trying to complete the loop.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 5, 2011
This is a fantastic winter hike and I enjoyed it more in January then any other time of year.  To have the entire summit of Old Rag to yourself is just surreal.  The ice formations and stark landscape were visually interesting, and the solitude and quiet were magical.   If you're going to go, avoid the long lines and crowds during the summer and fall, and experience a classic Virginia hike the way it should be. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I sort of knew what to expect with all the reviews here, so I was very prepared as far as gear goes (maybe over). I went with a buddy who had done the hike twice before. The forecast called for a sunny calm day with a high of 36, so perhaps a little cold, but we figured we would get warmed up with the activity (we did). We were also worried about some snow/ice on the trail, but the spots that were icy could be easily walked around. The initial switchbacks were a good warmup and the rock scramble was all that and a bag of chips! Next time, if its not too busy, I will do a round trip instead of the circuit with the Saddle and Weakly Hollow, because Holy Jeebus the last 3 miles are PAINFULLY boring. When we got back to the parking lot there were less than ten cars there, so the cold months are best for avoiding the crowds, but I will still do this again in the Spring/Summer. Thanks everyone here for your tips!

By: Scott Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 13, 2010
I always like to bring new folks to experience Old Rag and all its glory and today was no exception.. I could not have planned a more perfect weather day as we got started on the trail at 0830am... blue skies , no wind and temps in upper 30's to start ... 2 of the folk have been here before with me so they are old hat but the other 2 were new to Rag.. We had a great time and were in no hurry.. got to the top at 1pm and temps in 50's to maybe 60.. just great... views spectacular and was surprised to see so many leaves still hanging on.. My new friend Jeff had a blast. He was like a schoolkid lost in a toystore.. he wanted to climb every rock, every challenge.. it was great.. He truly shares the appreciation for God's creative handy work.. I finally got to see the old rag dogs... they get up to rock scramble but don't seem to get to the other side of mountain... one is friendly and the other just wanted to be left alone.. after getting near the end of the fire road we dipped our tired puppies(feet) in the very cold stream... coming back home we all had that tired but good feeling of accomplishment for the day... thanks Old Rag and cya again.....  Scott

By: Hokie Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 3, 2010
This was a great hike to do in the middle of the week.  We got to the parking lot around 1130, finished the hike around 530 after taking breaks at most of the viewpoints.  The advantage to doing it midweek of course is that there were not that many people out.  Total- I think we saw 12-14 people during the entire  hike, which made it much more enjoyable (others that have done it on weekends have said at some points in the scramble you line up 15-20 people deep to climb up the rocks, go through tunnels, etc).  One of the surprises we saw- we were on one of the false summits looking back towards where we had come from the scramble- and on one of the others there was a dog at the very top. I have no idea how it got there- because this was past some of the tough hand over hand climbs- but he was there walking around!  (hope he made it back down!!)

The one recommendation I would make- do not take a big pack with you.  I love photography, so I had a large pack to carry my camera, tripod, etc.  I knew there were some small areas- but I had to take it off so often it got annoying- and when I didn't take it off it definitely made hopping some of the crevices and rocks a little more challenging than if I had a simple small daypack.

By: A Bodner Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 1, 2010
We did this hike on a weekday with 7 adults and 7 kids. Kids were 7, 8, and 10. We went up to the summit, then back down the same way, avoiding the long fire road. about 7 miles round trip from the parking lot. took us five hours and 45 minutes total. The kids had a blast we couldn't keep up with them on the rock parts, try as we might. I definitely recommend a weekday for this hike, and plenty of water. And kids need to be fairly athletic or at least pretty active. At 2 hours from DC this is an awesome hike.

By: Karen & Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 31, 2010
We couldn't have asked for better weather today!  The rock scrambles were challenging and I needed a boost up a couple of times, but overall I did okay.  I concur with the other hiker reviews--arm strength is required as you need to pull yourself up or hold yourself steady as you slide down.  The views all along the way were spectacular.  The trail is very nicely blazed and the crowd was manageable.  I can't wait to try it again, and when I do I plan to bring a peanut butter/jelly sandwich and some fritos to have up on the summit.  My Kashi trail bar wasn't nearly enough for the 5-1/2 hour hike.  

By: Nicole Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 31, 2010
We had great weather for our hike this Halloween. My friend and I started out fairly early to beat the crowds and were able to enjoy the hike up in solitude. The views from the top were spectacular with all the colorful leaves and blue sky. We came down the same way we went up cutting off a few miles, but adding a bit more challenge. We really enjoyed the rock scrambles both on the way up and down. Gloves with grip are a great thing to have on this hike as you are often grabbing sharp rocks. If you can go during the week day this hike is even better!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 30, 2010
To begin with, I used to be hiking every month with my boy scouts troop for more than 10 years, so I can be considered to have some experience. This was my first hike since I moved to VA and let me tell you that I'm IMPRESSED.  The colors in this time of the year are beautiful and the temperature was just perfect (about 55). The way up is super exiting and interesting, even thought I injured my lower back while climbing to gain some time over a slow moving family. The way down is not that exiting but is relieving for a guy with his back hurt. total time: almost 8 hours, including a lot of pic stops, snacks and lunch & beer at the summit.

NOTE: this is no Sunday after church hike, so if you are not physically able to do it, just don't attempt.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 23, 2010

It was great (except for the human bottle necks).  Super weather, foliage near peak, and perfect hiking conditions. We left the parking lot around 9:30, made the summit around 1 after several breaks, then down the long long fire road. The rock scramble was great, and its amazing how comfortable the granit is at the top.  Suggestions are to bring at least 1.5 L  of water per person (if the temp is 60s), and wear grippy hiking shoes.  Even though the climbing surfaces were dry, some parts were very smooth and had an incline that caused firmer soles to slip.  And oh yeah, we're both over 60 (one of us well over..the other one lies).  Have fun.

By: CKP Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 16, 2010
First hike for me (44 y/o female) - temp started in the 50s, was probably 70s by the time we got back to parking lot. Started hike clockwise at 0843, finished around 1:00 pm with only a few stops for pics, and 15 mins at the summit.  Definitely glad I wore a light sweater I could take off and put back on.  Highly recommend camelbak for water, electrolyte gel packs (easier and faster to consume than power bars), hiking shoes or boots, lunch, and camera.  Requires a lot of leg and arm strength (depending on pace), and some of the rock scramble requires pulling yourself up.  Narrow passages discourage large backpacks. It was definitely a total body workout, but I would do it again (hopefully soon!).  The walk down takes forever it seems, but very pretty with the fall foliage.  Definitely get there before 0900 (at the latest), to avoid the crowds.

By: usna98 Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 1, 2010
This was the first time I've hiked Old Rag in the 30 or so years I've been camping in Shenandoah, and it definitely will not be my last.  My friend and I left the D.C. area early on Friday morning and got to the trailhead at 8:45am.  There were only two other cars in the lot when we got there.  The combination of severe weather the day before (torrential rain and flooding) and the fact that it was a weekday probably kept most people away.  We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day with clear skies and temps starting in the 60s and climbing to the low 70s.  We both carried daypacks with plenty of water and snacks to eat along the way.  Good hiking shoes are a must for grip on the rocks and the descent back down the mountain.  We took the loop clockwise, going up through the rock scramble and back down the fire road.  The rock scramble is probably the most fun I've had on a hike - though not very technically challenging, it definitely requires some planning to get through some of the more dicey areas.  We brought climbing gloves based on the recommendations of others, but ended up not needing them.  It took us about 5 hrs to complete the circuit with plenty of stops for pictures and a lengthy stop at the summit for a snack.  We ran into around 7 other people on the trail and by the time we got back to the parking lot, there were about 20 cars there.  Like most people, I thought that the last 2.5 miles on the fire road was fairly boring, but the change of pace and mostly flat surface was welcome.  Unfortunately, we did not see any wildlife on the hike.  I am looking forward to hiking Old Rag again, and will probably try it in the opposite direction the next time for something different. 

By: Yololli Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 26, 2010
First hike ever!  Took my 17 yeard old son and friend.  Had a great time getting to the summit.  A bit of physical arm strength is required at the summit, but overall, what killed us was the LONG walk down the firetrail after the summit was reached.  At least it seemed long, I think we were just tired.  We loved the rock scramble, this made the hike!  Keep in mind, we're new to this and we were not prepared.  We each carried a bottled water, New Balance shoes on me, the boys sported their typical skateboard shoes that apparently grabbed the rocks rather well since they're made for gripping.  The rocks were just a bit slick due to a few morning showers but easily passable.  We were all complaining of foot pain towards the end, next time we'll dress appropriately.  Great time, GREAT views, pretty cool day!

By: Greg B Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 24, 2010
totally awesome! left the parking lot around 10 and arrived at the the summitt at 1:30.  Took a 20 - 30 minute break half way up and then ate lunch at the top.  Probably won't see another 90 degree day like this day for the rest of this year (let's hope), but regardless, bring plenty of water.  I had 3 liters with me and some in the car for after the hike.

I ran from the summitt down to the parking lot a litte under an hour, so the extra water in my car was critical.  The rock scramble was amazing and the views were ridiculous.  Would love to go back in the winter when visability is better.  We encountered a bit of a haze due to the heat. 

All in all, the best hike I have been on!  You will not be disappointed unless you are complete snob!  I promise.

By: Stephanie and Jonathan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 18, 2010
Parked at Berry Hollow this time and did the hike backwards. Had never realized how much of a downhill the fire road is until I had to hike up it at the end of the hike! It was fun and challenging to do the rock scramble in the opposite direction. If you've done this hike before and want to do something new with it, I would definitely recommend doing it backwards! *You can get to Berry Hollow parking lot by following the directions for the White Oak/Cedar Run hike and then going past that parking lot for around 3/4 a mile or so.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 18, 2010
First time hiking Old Rag (40 yr. old female & 46 yr. old male). We began our hike at 8:45am. We finished, just shy of 6 hrs. We hiked at a steady pace, rested, snacked, and took many photos in this time span.


Hiking Boots. (over any other kind of shoe.) "Grippy" Gloves for rock scramble. Bug Spray before you begin. A LOT of water, small gatorade, protein packed power bar, banana, orange, trailmix,  w/ ziplock baggie to bring your trash back down with you. CAMERA! Couple of Bandaids...just incase. 

***The Emergency Ranger Phone Number! Pay attention to the numbers handpainted on the trail markers, so if you need help you can tell the ranger which marker you are near, so they can find you w/out any trouble. 

Side note: We came across a boyscout troop that did not know about the numbered trail markers nor did they have the emergency ranger phone number....and their troop leader had a sprained ankle and needed medical attention. Glad I had that information to share with them, so they could call and get the help they needed.


The Rangers: get an A+... As we went down the mountain, we passed the Rangers going up the mountain to help the boyscout leader. They were friendly and quick to respond.

Steep Incline at the beginning ,gets your heart rate up. Challenging and Exciting Rock Scramble. 360degree view from the summit...Awesome! Decent was good stuff...but then became a little boring walking the last part down the emergency fire road. (But after having fatigued our leg muscles, boring was kind of welcome).

Personally, we wouldn't take our kids until they are in their mid teens...we saw some young children up there...but personally we felt like there were too many "danger zones" for little ones. Plus it is a challenging hike.

By: Nick Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 11, 2010
A big group of friends were going to hike Old Rag, but we have a new (3 month old) baby. I searched the hiking upwards reviews and saw that parents had successfully made it to the top with small kids, but no one mentioned hiking with a baby. Having done the loop before, we decided to go up and back on the fireroad/northern side, skipping the rock scramble so that the infant front carrier wasn't a problem. Great views from the top for baby's first summit. Tired shoulders and back, but nothing a couple Advil couldn't handle.

By: Jef Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 9, 2010
Started at 7:00 am and had the place to myself.  Rock scramble was great and I brought gloves, which helped alot.  The top was anti-climatic,but great views.  The parking was good but u have to walk a half mile to the trail head.  The trip down the mt. was boring and at the bottom u had to walk 2 1/2 miles on a fire road to the trail head, and once there 1/2 mile back to the car.  If it weren't for the rocks this hike would have sucked.  Crossed it off my list, won't be back.

By: The Stars Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 6, 2010
The good: The rock scramble was fun and took a good while. Amazing views. Great workout.

The bad: Everything outside of the rock scramble was boring and tenuous (long switchbacks to get to the rock scramble and miles of cut stairs and fire road to get back. No wildlife. Long distances between porta-potties. Gets crowded around noon.

Our recommendation: Start early to avoid crowds. Only bring a small backpack. The rock scramble is too tight and you will find it tedious (I broke mine in a crevice, then had to finished the scramble with a one strap backpack). Wear shoes that provide traction for the rock scramble. We made it with sneakers but slipped a lot and those rocks are sharp/rough. Next time we do it we are bringing gloves. You use your hands A LOT for the rock scramble.

Overall: We are glad we took 4 hour drive to climb Old Rag. The rock scramble and the views at the summit made it worth it. It was 53 degrees when we started our climb at 8am. Wouldn't want to pull a 4 hour circuit in anything over 70 degrees. Also, there are two ways to the summit. The front side with the rock scramble (challenging) and
the back side (way easier). We went up the front and down the backside. Most people were doing it this way but we did pass people coming up the back side (and down the backside) so don't let the rock scramble sway you from hiking it if your older or out of shape.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 4, 2010
Awesome hike.  Don't do it at all if it may be wet.  If dry it is real safe and you can totally avoid cliffs etc - although you can find them too.  Third time doing the hike.  Taking it slow it can take 6 hours.  If you move along you can make it in 4 hours.  Ran on the flatter spots today and turned it into a workout today and it took 3 hours.  Thornton Grill in Sperryville is a good place to get lunch or dinner.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 22, 2010
Great hike, but I wanted to send out a little caveat to other people like me - if you're even mildly afraid of heights, this trail is may not be for you.  I never had any doubts I was fit enough to complete the circuit (which fortunately turned out to be true!) but the rock scramble is high and open and there are numerous places where you won't have good footing.  I thought I knew what to expect, but I didn't at all.  There were several places near the summit where I was very, very afraid and had to push myself hard mentally to keep going. I also had a lot of support and encouragement from my fantastic husband. All-in-all though it was fun.  My husband, who has no fear of heights, had an absolute blast the whole way.

Not trying to discourage anyone at all here, just wanted to give a heads up so others like me can be prepared. I'm glad I did it and I'm already thinking about doing it again.

By: Steve Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Started from Berry Hollow lot at 8:00 a.m., went up and back via Saddle Trail. I expected lots of company, but saw only two other people the entire hike. I was on the top for 45 minutes completely alone. It was a hot and humid day - which maybe explains the lack of hikers. But it was breezy and mild at the top.

By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 3, 2010
We did the hike a little differently.  We parked at the Berry Hollow parking lot, took the Weakley Hollow fire road up to the trail start, then went counter-clockwise.  It's a nice route because we got to the bathroom area at Old Rag Shelter fairly quickly, which works well if you drove to the mountain.  The trip to the top took not much more than an hour.  Sat on top for awhile, enjoyed the view, then did the rock scramble "backwards."  Fun way to do it.  The only issue is the walk back up the Weakley Hollow fire road once you reach the upper (closed) parking area at the base of the trail.  That part of the hike is 2.5 miles, all uphill.  (If you do the hike clockwise, you take the fire road downhill the entire time, obviously.)  Once you reach the trail start  at the summit of the fire road, you walk downhill for about a mile to the parking lot.  Positives:  Easy to park at Berry Hollow, nice quick run to the top.  Negatives:  Long walk up the fire road.  But fun - if you want something different, try it.

By: Button Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 1, 2010
Nice hike, but of course...too many people.  I've done this hike twice. My only complaint is that the rest of the trail (other than the rocks) is actually pretty boring.  There's really not much to see.

By: Marshell Chandler Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 31, 2010
I hiked this trail for the first time last fall, a week before the peak of the fall.  I was not prepared for the difficulty.  I had brought only 1 bottle of water, no energy bars and didn't prepare physically.  Still, I made it and was amazed by the beauty of this mountain.  Knowing that I'd be back, I had to bring my wife.  This time, more prepared, it was a much more enjoyable hike.  This is my wife Kim's first hike in the Shenandoah.  She absolutely loved it. And we'll definitely be back. I made a 'Group' on Facebook to show many pictures of this hike. Search 'Old Rag Trail Hike, Shenandoah Mountains' in the groups section.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sorry if this is an insanely stupid question, but I've never been to SNP or Old Rag. I'll be there next week, and want to do this hike, but I'll be by myself. Not too concerned about the cardio endurance, but am concerned about need for upper body strength and the fact that I'll be by myself and won't have someone to give a push when needed. So my question there anyway to reach the summit by avoiding the rock scramble all together? Would the counterclockwise route do this, or is there no way to get to the summit without the rock scramble? I know this would not be the best experience, but I don't want to skip the whole mountain. Thanks. HU Note: 2 ways to get to the Old Rag Summit without going up the Ridge Trail and doing the rock scrambling. 1. As you stated, do the trail counterclockwise and you will also reach the summit then turnaround and go back down the same way, or 2. Park at the Berry Hollow Parking just beyond the White Oak Canyon Parking. This avoids most of the Weakley Hollow Fire Road from the counterclockwise way in No. 1. It is also a shorter route.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 25, 2010

This was our first trip to Virginia, and definitely will not be our last. We Brought our camper and Camped at Big Meadows. It was fantastic. I found the hike online before we went, and prepared our gear in case we got stuck or injured on the mountain. I'm 6' and weigh in at 290#'s. It was a difficult hike for me, but I finished the circuit in about 8 hours along with my wife, who is extremely physically fit, along with one of our friends who is in rather good shape. It took it's toll on each of us. The sights were fantastic, and we all enjoyed the rock scramble more than anything else. Small Packs would have been better, we were each carrying 3000-3500 packs weighing about 30-35#'s a piece with food and water. But as stated we over prepared. had we not I would probably not made it as i did dehydrate, and suffered from heat exhaustion about 30 minutes from the summit. we each carried 100oz hydration packs and two 30oz nalgene bottles a piece. Make sure you take gatorade powder or some sort of electrolyte replacement with you. we carried an all sport a piece, and would have done better mixing heavily along the way to replace the electrolytes. All i can say is that i would do it again in a heart beat. I shattered my knee two years ago, and have been very inactive do to it, and not wanting to mess it up again. but this was the beginning of getting back in shape. It's strenuous, but can be done!

By: Cindy Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
As an earlier poster mentioned, the upper parking lot has been closed since April 2010, so the hike from the lower lot adds an approximate 1.6 miles to the hike.

This was my group’s sixth or so hike up Old Rag. As always, we had a terrific time and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and amazing views.

The weather was great: 80’s, cloudy during the uphill climb, bright & sunny during the rock scramble and lunch at the summit. The trail conditions were perfect with the exception of one tricky part on the scramble where one of the rock walls was quite wet. We got up just fine, but it was a little more challenging than usual.

We ran into the Old Rag dog part way up the scramble. He was taking a break in the shade. We’ve seen him several times now on Old Rag. Occasionally, he joins us for part of the hike on this day, he had already made the climb.

We ran into only a handful of other hikers and at least three or more park rangers. We didn’t see a single wild animal (excluding birds) this time. All in all, it was a wonderful day and another spectacular climb up Old Rag.

By: Britt Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's as close to a bluebird day in July as we can have in Virginia.  Not a cloud in the sky all weekend and low humidity made for great climbing weather.  As a group of ten with skill levels from Advanced Mtn. Rescue to rock hugger, we were able to push pull and coax so everyone had a great day.

Cooling tired feet in the creek at the base was a just reqward for everyone.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Great hike saw a black bear had frozen water not thawed out when i needed it bad idea great views breathtaking first time hiker weighing in at 6'3 240 not a good first hike lol but wanted a workout to burn 20 but gained because of leg muscle and was sore head from toe from rock scamble good footwear suggested my bones im my feet hurt from bad shoes another bad idea but amazing experince

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Great hike saw a black bear had frozen water not thawed out when i needed it bad idea great views breathtaking first time hiker weighing in at 6'3 240 not a good first hike lol but wanted a workout to burn 20 but gained because of leg muscle and was sore head from toe from rock scamble good footwear suggested my bones im my feet hurt from bad shoes another bad idea but amazing experince

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 13, 2010
We did the hike counter clockwise (orange blaze- fire road to the blue blaze) like some other people suggested and I am glad we did.  We saw a deer, a bear, and a snake along the fire road.  It was very warm and we each drank about 2 litres of water. We hardly saw anyone on the way up but after we hit the summit we encountered people every few minutes.  Going down the rock scrambles seemed a lot easier than going up, be ready for some tight areas.  It took us about 4 hours to complete the hike and the only break we took was at the summit.  Overall it was a great hike!

By: Jayme Levy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 5, 2010
This was an amazing hike with the rock scramble being quite challenging. The weather could have been better as it was about 100% humidity that day but definitely worth the drive. I highly recommend!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 29, 2010
This hike was definitely very strenuous if you go the clockwise route to get to the summit.  The rock climbing or as they say scrambling was very unsafe the morning after a rainfall and you should factor this in before deciding to go clockwise to the summit.  If you decide to go counter clockwise it's a much safer journey and includes 2 shelters and one Pit Privy(old fashioned style port-a-john).  We spotted a black bear cub near the old rag shelter standing on a deadfall, but never saw it's mom.  We stayed back and made noise so it would wander off and hopefully momma bear wouldn't feel the need to defend the cub.  We also saw some deer and people riding horses on the return down the easier route.

We recommend taking plenty of water, cameras, backpacks, lunch, snacks, and a very positive attitude.  The upper parking is no longer allowed, so you have to hike from the bottom parking area which makes it a total of 9.40 miles if you do the complete loop.

We were a little upset with the fog, but what can you do?  it was still a very challenging, yet rewarding trail.  Please go the counterclockwise route up and down if you are not in the best shape or have little kids with you.  My girlfriend and i both had difficulties going through the scramble, we both have run 10k's and she's a rock climber, so it's going to be tough!  The rock scramble is definitely something not to be taken lightly.  Thank goodness my girlfriend is a rock climber, otherwise i would have been toast.

There are port-a-jon's in the lower parking area, and upper parking area.  You pay a park fee for a 7-day pass into the park at the little ranger station either on your honor or when they open.  There were lots of people on this hike, but that made it a little safer knowing someone could hustle back to the ranger for help if need be.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 15, 2010

WOW !!  What a hike ! Me and my 13 year old son did this hike and it was great !

Alittle long but it was great at the top .

took a Amateur radio up with us , 2 meter and a back pack beam antenna and worked over 200 miles on 5 watts .

Can't wait to go back !!!

Have fun all !!!    73s KJ4EOZ / Doug

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 7, 2010
I've hiked this mountain several times (perhaps 6 or 7 times, including in the dark under the stars) along with dozens of different trails and this one remains one of my favorites in the area.  The rock scramble breaks up the monotony of just hiking up a hill.  The views are absolutely spectacular as well!  It's takes the better part of the day to complete the whole loop and it can get crowded on nice weekends but it's always worth it!  Pack lunch, you'll get hungery!  Be careful to hike it when it's raining or just after it has rained because the rocks can be very slippery.

By: henchman626 Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 6, 2010
This was a great hike! Today was my second time hiking the Old Rag loop. My first time was a couple of weeks ago when the weather was in the lower 60s. Today's weather was in the mid to upper 80s. Needless to say, the hike was much more strenuous than my previous visit to Old Rag Mountain. I absolutely love the rock scramble on the top of the mountain and the views are priceless. If you are into photography this is a great place to get some nice shots. There is a lot of wildlife to see. We came across a few snakes on the way down. Nothing poisonous, they were both black racers. If you are hiking on a hot day, just make sure to bring enough water. I finished off my two liters right near the end of the hike.

By: georgiahiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 24, 2010
This was a fantastic hike and my new favorite in the East.  I started this hike around 9:15am on a Saturday when it was threatening rain and I pushed quite hard to get to the boulder field before they got wet.  I passed at least 30 people on my way up as I was keen not to get caught in a bottleneck at the scramble.  The rock scrambling was an absolute blast.  I couldn't believe for how long the difficult terrain continued.  I felt like a kid again scrambling over an obstacle course.  In certain places where the rocks were wet it was somewhat difficult to maintain footing.  In one particularly wet spot I was forced to crawl on my stomach to keep from sliding off the rock.  After having the summit to myself for 20 minutes (and making a few phone calls), the crowds joined me and soon there were at least 20 people all vying for good views from the top of the big rocks.  So I took the long route down which was relaxing and easy on the knees.  I even found a spot halfway down to just sit on a rock and enjoy the silence.  I was back to my car at the lower lot (upper lot permanently closed) in about 4 hours and 40 minutes.

I'd recommend that you think twice before attempting this in the rain, unless you're a strong individual.  I'd also recommend gloves.  The granite can be rough on your hands.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Got on the mountain before the sun came up and had it all to myself until 10am.  This is one of my favorite hikes in the park.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 17, 2010
This is certainly one of the best hikes I've been to. The views from the top are out of this world. I went with bunch of friends there today. There were too many boy scouts along the path which slowed us down considerably. Certainly, take lot of water and food, and possibly a wind-cheater when you go there. It can get cold and windy even when it is sunny. I went there alone once while it was raining, I did it at start of spring. Can't wait to go when the fall colors appear. It would be awesome.

P.S. : The upper parking lot has closed permanently. The whole circuit is 7.2 mile. Those additional 1.8 miles to upper parking lot and back are the most boring ones :-(, especially while coming back !

By: Todd Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 17, 2010
Wow! I think I'm more sore this time than when we did it last weekend? Went as part of a group of 6, with 2 virgins. Everybody had a great time! Recommend stopping by the Sharp Rock Winery after the hike. Great place to relax and hang with Oliver(Saint Bernard). Really try to get there early or on a slower day. It may not have been the Boy Scout troops that slowed everyone down, but waiting in line for 15 min to get through a tight passage is no fun. Looking forward to going again soon!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 17, 2010
We aren't regular hikers. This is the toughest one so far for us. Climbing rock was really a challenge and I didn&rsquot expect it. But it feels like a big achievement now. I only knew it was an 8mile trek. It was fun in the beginning and i kept on laughing saying 'It is a heck of a hike'.. man. It was just me and my husband helping each other. As we continued we really struggled to make it thru the rocks. Many times we felt we are not going to make it. Finally glad that that we made it to the summit. We took the saddle trail to come down. That was a longer route, but easier. We were very badly exhausted and dehydrated. We felt feverish in the night. Lesson learnt: start early and carry (and drink) lots of water even if you are not thirsty. The hike was adventurous for us and glad to burn considerable fat from the body.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 11, 2010
1st timer. Wow, talk about a challenging hike! Being almost 300lbs didn't make it any easier, but I did it. After drinking 100oz of water and a few snacks, I still shed 9lbs on the climb. My brother and I did it in preperation for a group hike at the same location next sat. Rock scrambling was a welcome change after 1.5hrs of uphill hiking. The views were tremendous and well worth the exhausting ascent. I would recommend Old Rag to anyone looking for a strenuous, but not extreme hike. Allow yourself the full 5hrs and expect to meet many kind hikers along the way. As the last mile or so has some possibly dangerous sections, I wouldn't recommend it for either unexperienced or under 13 hikers. We took the Saddle trail down(long way). I'm looking forward to taking the Ridge Trail(same trail you take up) next week. It is $8 per person, for the minimum pass. However, for $30 you can purchase a year pass which allows up to 4 people and grants access to Skyline Drive. Happy Trails!

By: Fanics Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 10, 2010
This was my first hike of Old Rag this season (5th or 6th hike over all) and it was very enjoyable as always. Gorgeous day with clear skies and temps in the 70s. Started at lower parking around 2:40pm and reached summit by 3:55pm. Did not linger on the summit for long as it was too crowded. Jogged on the way down and got back to lower lot by 4:40pm for a personal best time of 2 hrs flat. Passed another group of about 5-6 people who were also trail running on the way down. Everyone I passed was very friendly and happy to share the trail. Looking forward to clocking in at under 2 hrs next time!

By: Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 10, 2010
I've done many day hikes in Va. and this was the BEST.  I camped with my 10 yr. old son in SNP during Easter Break and we hiked on a Monday.  Get started as early as possible. At 9:30 am there were a few cars in the lower parking area (the upper is now closed permanently) by the time we finished, the lot was jam-packed.  This hike offers a lot for a day hike. Distance, elevation, vistas and of course the rock scramble.  The next time I hike this circuit I would like to back-track on the return. My son and I loved the rocks and they are worth hitting a second time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 5, 2010
Second time doing Old Rag.  Hiked it last November.  Second time seemed a little easier, maybe because I knew what to expect.  We were fortunate enough to have the Old Rag Dogs travel with us up the mountain.  They are great ambassadors.  It was a beautiful day and no haze meant beautiful views.  As always, fellow hikers were very friendly.  Not many folks on the trail that morning, though.  Only incident was for my son (12 yrs old)  When we got to the part where you have to jump across the crevice and climb up a rock on the other side, he almost slid back down into the crevice.  I had to catch him by the arms to keep him from going all the way down.  The rocks were a little slippery and he just didn't have enough momentum going to get him up the other side.  Make sure you get a good jump there.

By: William age 13 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 20, 2010
I think that the Old Rag trail is worth it. I am thirteen, and I hiked this with my dad for the first time. The hike up the mountain on the Ridge Trail was lots of fun and the boulder scrambling was challenging and definitely the highlight of the hike. The views were good once you got above the treeline, and the views from the peak were spectacular. The day I hiked it was a warm, clear day without a cloud in the sky. As for wildlife, I didn't see much other than a few birds and insects. Bring tons of water and food, you'll need the energy and hydration. I suggest going back down the mountain the Ridge Trail because the fire road was long, tedious, and seemed to last forever. Overall, I had an excellent time climbing up Old Rag Mountain and I would recommend it only for people looking for a hard, streneous hike.

By: VArunner Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 20, 2010
I hiked old rag the first day of spring. It was a beautiful sunny day and many people had the same idea! This was my first time hiking old rag and it was a great experience. I can't wait to do it again in the summer and fall. It is a difficult hike dealing with the rock scrambles but it's exciting and well worth the views. There were a lot of people with small children (under 10 yrs) who were trying to maneuver the rock scrambles. They were having a very difficult time. I would recommend this hike for people 12 years and older. You have to be in good physical shape and upper body strength on the rocks. Be prepared with plenty of water and snacks.

By: Zachary Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 13, 2010
I have been to old rag 3 times. The first time I was just starting middle school and never made it to the true summit, after 4 years I convinced my dad to take me back for spring break .But it had stormed that morning and due to the low clouds When we got to the top it was too foggy to see a thing and when we got half way down the sun came out . then finally about a year later I went again and It poured down rain from the start the river by the lower parking lot was flooded and gushing over the driveways that crossed it. on the way up every raveen and creek was gushing down the mountain one after another along the trail. And deja vu again it was  to foggy to see a thing at the top and  on the way down the sun came out.
In all it was an amazing climb and I hope one day it will be the perfect day when I go.

By: Robert Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I've been up on Old Rag plenty of times at this point (over thirty) and this was the first time I've seen this much snow still on the trails. Be sure to have boots with extremely good traction that are well-waterproofed as well as long pants to protect your shins when you sink into the snow (that may have been more my problem though, I was the heaviest person I saw on the mountain by a good eighty pounds that day). The Ridge Trail is an easier hike up than I would surmise the Saddle Trail to be due to the length of moderate snow still on the Saddle Trail, but I went back down the Saddle Trail as there were a few areas of water and ice on the Ridge Trail which I didn't really want to bother with again on the way back down. The upside of the Ridge Trail is that the pinch point is almost completely filled with snow, so you can just gingerly walk up through it instead of climbing through it sideways. I'm going to give it another few weeks (maybe right before the upper lot closes) before I wander up there again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 6, 2010
This is my 6th hike of Old Rag in 2010. I would still recommend bringing micro-spikes with you on this hike until all the snow is gone. With the wet slushy snow in some areas yesterday you can't get any leverage to push off which puts strain on your knees. There are also many icy or semi-frozen patches on the trail as well as many opportunities to put your foot through 2 feet of snow just off the padded trail so gaiters are a smart choice as well.

Many thanks to the snowshoers who paved the original path after the 3 feet of snow blizzard asI saw their tracks 3 hikes ago. In the future I would recommend snowshoes after a large snow fall and then crapons or spikes after that.

There is also a good bit of mud on the clear areas of the fire trail.

Unfortunately the upper parking area will be closed forever at the end of this month adding .9 miles to the hike each way if the loop is done so don't expect the shorter hike in the future.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 28, 2010
I chose to hike Old Rag today as part of my early training and preparation for the AT later this Spring.  I started the hike from the lower parking lot around 1215 PM and chose to hike counterclockwise, up the fire road first.   The snow on the road was packed for the most part making the long ascent up a little easier.  Once on the trail heading towards Old Rag shelter the path became a little more difficult as the base of snow higher up was easily 18" to 24" deep.  I saw several people today hiking in tennis shoes and shorts!  The temperature on top of Old Rag was a cool 28 degrees when I passed over, and the snow flurries picked up the pace as the wind blew even harder on top.  Coming off the summit down the Scramble was very difficult.  Had I not had treking poles I would fallen and slipped through the tight passes.  Once off the rocks and down the Ridge Trail is was OK all the way back to the parking lot.  I completed the hike today in 4 hrs and 30 mins.  I will continue to do my AT training on Old Rag but I won't return until more snow and ice thaw.  BE PREPARED if you go.  Good boots, treking poles, warm clothes, gloves and, of course water.  Enjoy and be safe.

By: Bob Look Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 31, 2010
The NPS has posted signs on Old Rag starting in mid-April 2010 the upper parking lot will be closed to the public.  Once the upper lot is closed all hikers will need to park at the lot near the Old Rag Contact station.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 30, 2010
I've hiked this trail 8-9 times already. Make sure you have ice traction devices for your boots. We hiked it in the snow storm and it was quite a challenge! We also used hiking poles, it only took us 5hr 45 min from start to finish!

We went up and down the fire road side. It is a good idea to leave your pack at the Bird's Nest shelter before heading to the summit to save weight.

By: L&J Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 15, 2010
This was my first real hike. We chose Old Rag for the view and it was well worth it! We started at the lower lot and took the trail backwards, taking the fire rd first. There was a considerable amount of snow and ice on the upper part of the trail. Since we started in the opposite direction of most, we ended up descending the rock scramble which made it a little tricky to begin with but the fact that it was very slippery from the snow and ice made it especially hard for me. Some parts were quite treacherous but we made it down to the other side and it was very exciting.  Make sure you wear proper hiking shoes as I did not and my feet were soaking wet for more than half the hike. I also had a hiking stick which made things easier when approaching deep snow. All in all, we saw some amazing views that words can't even describe, which to me, made it completely worth it in the end!

By: Sam w/o Thunder Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 10, 2010
I hiked up from the end of 600, I think its called Berry Hollow.  Still ice and snow, so I used some short spikes most of the way.  There wasn't much wind and I think the cold temperature kept the crowds away.  I saw about a dozen people during my 6 hour loop.  Great views and a really fun hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 1, 2010


I saw many folks doing the hike without any mciro ice traction assistence on their feet.  So at least this weekend it can be done in just regular footware. 

There is lots of bare rock and the ice and snow is very thin so crampons would be a hinderance.   YakTrax, microspikes, stabilizers are perfect.  Having the right equipment will mean that your hike will be far more pleasurable, faster and safer.   

The snow was well beaten down so there was no need to break trail or worry about post holing.   Most of the trail snow had the consistency of a snow cone but some had already melted and refrozen into ice.

Many parts of the fire roads could still be skied but the snow is very icy.  There was probably a window of several days after the big snow when the skiing on the fire roads was wonderful.

Keep in mind this is backcountry.   If someone slips and becomes non-ambulatory (injuries happen here even in the summer) you are looking at MANY! hours until first responders arrive.   Your group should be prepared to self-rescue or keep a non-ambulatory victim warm for 6 to 12 hours even during clear weather.  Expect this timeframe to extend for more than a day in the middle of an intense snow or ice storm.    Some cell phones work high on the mountain but  none work low on the mountain. There is an emergency phone on the Old Rag fee station.    If you are solo on the mountain make sure their is someone that knows to call for help if you do not return when you should.   

I do a lot of patrols on Old Rag for the PATC Trail Patrol or the Old Rag Mountain Stewards and I post a blog entry for each of my patrols.   The blog is located at: .   Since I use it as an extension of my public outreach activities for my volunteer activities with (NPS, ORMS, PATC TP)  it is a little preachy.   It contains lots of pictures and lots of information and links about all kinds of Old Rag, hiking, and climbing things.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Hiked with my daughter, her boy friend and two of my sons.  Trail was quite strenuous, very snowy and icy but we had a blast. The rock scramble was a bit icy in several places. It was our first time, my daughter and her boy friends second.  We will return in the spring when the ice and snow are gone and combine it with a via feratta trip in wva.

By: skitch-locally Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 29, 2009
See this  ( The images say it all.. tough place, as in DEADLY, when iced over, and you are not prepared.

By: JBK Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 28, 2009
me too.  would like to hike on thurs / NYE.  any trail reports out there?

By: Teresa Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 27, 2009
The trails were ok near the bottom... approaching the top they were still covered in ice & snow, making the rocks a challenge. Advice to wait until the snow melts a little bit more.

HikingUpward Note: A few people were waiting for this trail report. This review was from Sunday but it looks like there will be another chance of freezing rain/snow on 12/31. Be sure to check the Sperryville weather link on the Old Rag hike page.)

By: Leo Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Has anyone been on this trial since the snow on Saturday?  What is the snow/ice situation?

I'm thinking of hiking it on December 27 if it's not totally impossible.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 19, 2009
I have hiked Old Rag Mountain many times, but this time around, it was under the most challenging circumstances. It was my birthday and I wanted to challenge myself by completing the hike in less than 4 hours.

It was cold and raining the entire time I was out there, but I finished the hike in 3 hours. It was an amazing experience and the rain made it all that more challenging. The rocks were super slippery and very hard to master. It was so muddy, water everywhere. As for solitude, yes, best hike ever, there was not another single person out there.

I wonder why?

By: Ann Beale Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 8, 2009
This was my third time doing this hike and my first time taking my 11 year old daughter. I love this hike and it is one of my favorites. My daughter is an experienced hiker otherwise I would not have taken her. She liked it too but said that the rock scramble was scary. We had someone with us who was strong enough to lift her over the difficult spots and that was very helpful. It was a perfect beautiful day so it brought out more people than I have ever seen on the trail before. My only complaint was there was a line of about 50 people or more waiting to go through a difficult spot on the scramble. I wish people would come out a little more prepared and knowledgeable about what to expect. It is a long and strenuous hike and you must be able to lift your own body weight. IF you are not experienced then go with someone who is and do a little research before you go. If you like to hike and like a challenge this one is for you.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hiked this with my 12-yr old son and my sister-in-law.  This was the first time for all of us.  We made good time going up and extensive research had prepared me as to what to expect, including the rock scrambles.  The only thing I would add to all the other reviews is that you have to be creative when going through the rocks.  I think size and body type may determine which way works best for you.  It is a very difficult hike, so please be prepared, good shoes are a must, and bring plenty of water.

Plan on getting there early to avoid the crowds at the rocks.  We were on the trail by 8:30 and did not have to wait in any lines.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 1, 2009
The following links take you directly to a great Hiking Old Rag Mountain video made by Shenandoah National Park:
High Quality 23 MBytes        
Low Quality 2.3 MBytes (dial up users)

By: Michael & Carol A Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 18, 2009
This was the first backpacking trip for my wife and I.  We were with my cousin Lisa and her husband Mike, both are experienced hikers.  This was Mike's 5 trip to Old Rag and Lisa's 3rd.  We started at 7:30 am and were able to park in the upper lot.  Despite our reservations, we chose to take the main trail and tackle to rock scramble.  The temperature was in the upper 30's with a stiff wind.  The mountain was fogged in till after lunch.  There was snow on the mountain when we reached the top.  The hike was challenging but we made it.  The most fun was on the rock scamble which would have been difficult enough in normal weather conditions, but was even more challenging with the wind and snow.  There were parts where we had to help each other and pass our packs along but we took our time and made it without incident.  As first time hikers it was an incredible first hike, with lots of memories and we look forward to doing the hike again next year.  Tips - have good conditioning (especially in your legs), having flexability in your legs is helpful to get over the rocks, and dress for conditions.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 10, 2009
Fantastic hike! Two person team of a rock climbing instructor & a Marathon runner, both of us in excellent shape and we tore through Old Rag in about 4.5 hours.

Arrived at lower parking lot and started hiking around 8:30-45ish. We came across other hikers frequently. All were friendly and helpful. Except of the bottleneck point, people were not a problem. We circumvented the bottleneck with some creative rock climbing (I do NOT recommend this!).

Enjoyable boulder hoping and our exploratory nature gave us access to some secluded and epic vistas! During the jog/run down hill, we came across people snapping pictures of a snake. Triangle head, so I identified it as venomous and later verified it to be a immature Timber Rattlesnake. Due to cold temperatures it was very slow, so we used a long stick to gently lift it off the trail and calmly warned others to be kind and avoid it. (Respect nature)

Note: Pace yourself and travel with light weight items. This hike is difficult for many people but not impossible. Avoid if you have certain medical conditions: (Heart, lungs, blood pressure, joint or bone issues, fairly over-weight, pregnant etc.) Also, not a good idea for elderly or small children.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 3, 2009
We hiked Old Rag on a Saturday morning. We arrived at 0645 and there were only 2 spots left at the upper parking area, however there were plenty of spaces on the lower parking area.  We started the hike at approx 0715 and reached the summit at 1010. The rock scramble was our favorite portion of the hike because it was both mentally and physically challanging. That part became challanging for us especially because we had backpacks.  Next time we do this hike, we'll only bring our nalgenes of water and a couple cliff bars in our pockets.   The views from the rocks were amazing on such a clear day. We passed or were passed by plenty f people on the trail. There was a good group of people at the summit but that didnt take away from how amazing it was!  We saw two snakes on the downhill section a black snake and a milk snake (which made for some pretty cool pics). I suggest starting with the hardest route to the summit first (rock scramble), it was much easier going downhill on the fireroads.  Its a pretty tiring route either way but you definitely dont want to be tired and attempting the rock scramble.  Our total trip was seven hours but we stopped a lot for pictures (there are PLENTY of picture ops).  This was an incredible hike!!!!

By: Adi Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 27, 2009
This is the best hike in the Washington DC area.
The rock scramble is fun and challenging and has really awesome views. It requires some physical strength to complete this 8 mi hike (10 mi...if you park in the second parking lot ). We started at 12.30 pm and finished it at 6 PM.
I would like to return to this hike definitely.

By: Hikermom Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 20, 2009

This is a great hike.  I would definitely do it again.

We got to the trail head at 7:50 but the upper lot was already full :(

It's really kind of annoying to have to park a mile away, but it's not a bad walk.  Left the lower parking lot at 8:10 and got back to the upper lot at 8:25.  Got to the top by 10:30, with various stops at the overlook.  It was kind of cloudy, foggy today, so there weren't perfect views, but it was nice.  Also, surprisingly few people.  The scrambling was GREAT!  Definitely not your garden variety Virginia hike.  It gave this one lots of personality and some interesting twists.  It was beautiful and fun.

We had "brunch" at the top for about an hour, and then headed down the backside.  Frankly, that was a little boring.  Those fire roads are long and tedious.  And then, of course, had to hike the extra mile down to the lower parking lot.

Still.  It was totally worth it.  If I do it again, I will do the scramble back down and skip the fire roads.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 7, 2009
My husband and I were concerned with attempting this hike on Labor Day, but arrived at the smaller parking lot around 8am. *Just* found a spot in it... Got on the trail about 8:25 (thanks to our 1 year old!) and were pleasantly surprised at the switchback section. We had previously done this hike backwards (going up the back first and then doing the fire road last) and recalled the switchbacks being worse than they were. We passed about 3 groups of people (ranging from 4 to about 8) by the second "rock scramble" section. The rocky sections were a bit slick in some areas thanks to the mountain being socked-in by a cloud and an earlier rain, but everything was safe and completely passable. Unfortunately, with the surrounding cloud, there was absolutely no view at any point along the trail, but I had never hiked in such a fog --so it was a really neat experience for me. We were really surprised at the lack of people on the trail (we passed two or three more couples on the fire road) but, when we were leaving the parking lot after completing our hike in 4 hours, found that the larger, rented parking lot was completely full.

And as for previous posts about dogs on the husband and I had done a hike in the spring of 2008 that was off-trail but used the first mile of the fire road. We were accompanied during our entire 6 mile hike by one of these dogs. I can't remember his name (Sp- something) but his owners are in one of the houses near the foot of the mountain. He is very friendly, was a great guide, and has a tag that says to not worry about his location or owners. "I know this mountain better than you," is basically what part of the tag said. But super friendly dog, and we saw him accompanying another group of hikers today, again, along the fire road. I have not seen other dogs on this trail before and I believe they aren't allowed.

By: Ashley Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 6, 2009
This was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! I have never really been hiking before so this was a first for me... I would definatly go again!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 5, 2009
Absolutely awesome -- I loved every step of this beautiful hike.  I'm going back very soon with my second son and younger daughter.  I'm making this a family tradition to hike Old Rag each year before school starts.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 4, 2009
Although extremley exhausted by nights end, the hike itself was exciting and rewarding. The best part about the entire hike was that I completed it with my 11 yr old son as part of a youth to manhood series we are participating in with our church Church of the Messiah, Fredericksburg, VA. It was inspiring and definately one of the toughest things i ever attempted and I am proud to say, completed. Most of all, I am extremely happy my son and i did it together.

Chris McCrae

By: Christopher McCrae Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 4, 2009

Although extremley exhausted by nights end, the hike itself was exciting and rewarding. The best part about the entire hike was that I completed it with my 11 yr old son as part of a youth to manhood series we are participating in with our church Church of the Messiah, Fredericksburg, VA. It was inspiring and definately one of the toughest things i ever attempted and I am proud to say, completed. Most of all, I am extremely happy my son and i did it together.


Chris McCrae

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Awesome hike! After going up this mountain previously with just one or two other people, I wanted to take a whole group (8 people) on this trip. Everyone on the group had a great time, and negotiating the rock scramble was made easier with so many people. The views are spectacular, and getting to the summit after a long trip up was very rewarding. The trip down the other side was kind of tedious but that's to be expected after working your way up. Definitely one of my favorite hikes!

By: Sgt Helgran Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 23, 2009
This hike was awesome!

The first 3 or so miles that lead to the rock scrambles were a very worn beaten path trail that you could probably have ridden a bike up. For this reason, the hike gets 4 stars.

The scrambles were excellent, with plenty of alternate routes to increase the challenge. Near the top, we climbed through some caves that proved to reach peaks that I'm certain most people do not ever see. Very challenging to take the alternate routes, but the painted path was reasonable and fun.

The hike back down the other side (if you take the circuit instead of turning around the way you came) was like the first one. Boring beaten trail that leads to a fire road. The road is just a gravel road that you're on about 2 miles. I generally prefer less worn trails where I sometimes have to clear my own way, cross rivers/creeks, and that sort of thing. The rock scrambles more than made up for it though, which is why this hike gets 4 stars. If you're up for a rock climb challenge, this is the one.

Happy trails!
Sgt Helgran

By: HikingGem Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 23, 2009
I'm just now getting around to review this hike, but wow was it a good one.  I loved the challenge, and figuring the way through the scrambles was fun. Much of the beginning was zigging and zagging up hill. That part wasn't much fun at all, but the scrambles and the views make this worth the while. This was the first hike I ever completed it, and I would suggest it for beginners. I hope to hike Old rag mountain again someday.

If you are a beginner in you live in the DC/Maryland/NorthernVA area I would suggest Difficult run. It is ideal for an introduction hike. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Thank you to everyone that clarified about the dog situation. I was under the impression originally that dogs were generally accepted through the park, and was un-aware until one of your replies let me know that they are restricted to certain trails.

Thanks again for the advice!

On that note, we're hiking Old Rag Sunday morning. If anyone is interested and wants to join us, right now our group is only 4. Anyone that wants to meet up with us, feel free to shoot me an email- we welcome the company!

Thanks again!
Sgt Helgran

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 20, 2009
We have a small group ready to hike this in a couple weeks. About the dog situation...

Is it unreasonable to think if I brought my dog (very fit, young whippet mix) that she would make it? Are dogs allowed on the trail? I obviously dont want to risk endangering my dog if it's going to be too much. I hiked the 10mi waterfall loop a month ago and feel that the dog could have made it on that one. This one seems like more climbing though, and again, i dont want to take an unnecessary risk.


By: The Closeau Brothers Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 15, 2009
This was our second time doing this one and we had a great time!  The first time we hiked Old Rag, we went "backwards" starting up the fire trail, doing the rock scrambles and then coming back down the switchbacks.  This time we did the opposite.  If you do the latter, meaning that you come down the fire trail at the end, prepare for a long walk after you've just hiked up and down a mountain!  Also we encountered two dogs at the top before the rock scrambles.  They were tagged and looked like they belonged to somebody.  We gave them water and were told that they belonged to someone that lives at the bottom of the trail.  If you go, ask the park rangers what the actual deal is with those dogs.  Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 15, 2009

My girlfriend and I are doing four hikes in four days here and we thought that we would tackle Old Rag first.  We are both 44 years old and take care of ourselves physically.  We parked at the trailhead lot, arriving at 6:30 am to find four other cars already in the lot. (we would've been there sooner if google maps didn't take us to the Berry Hollow trail...we ended up getting directions from a local guy on his way out to hunt).  If we return, I'll definitely get out early again...adding an extra two miles to the hike going back and forth to the other parking lot isn't really appealing.  The hike took us a total of six hours with numerous stops for photos, rest, and a quick, preventative maintenance, potential blister issue.  We spent about 30 minutes at the peak.  I went through 2 liters of water on the trek vs. her 1.5.  The rock climbs were pretty strenous at times, but we were having so much fun that we didn't notice until later that evening the toll it took.  There were definitely several spots where I had to pull her up along this should bring a friend along for help if you feel that you lack upper body strength.  (for those thinking about bringing dogs along, please don't...there are parts of the trail that are way too dangerous for them)

Fortunately, we didn't see any of the local dogs...(I want to see deer and bear...not somebody's scroungy looking mutt).  About a hundred yards into the trail we did hear a bunch of crashing in the brush off to our right.  A very large deer leapt right across the trail about ten feet in front of us and into the brush on the other side.  I never did see what spooked it....I'm guessing it wasn't us or it would've headed in the other direction.

Although we missed the brunt of it, I can see how this trail gets real crowded.  Several groups showed up while we were at the summit.  One idiot was just letting his kids (probably 7-11 years old) run and chase each other up there, at times coming precariously close to the edge.  I don't enjoy parenting other people's kids, but we did at least convince the seven year old to slow down and tie his shoelaces.  Some adults never cease to amaze me with their lack of common sense. (anyway, I digress....)  The views are beautiful up here but it isn't the place for solitude.  We did enjoy some though, heading out so early.   Heading off to a much easier, allowing the body to recover, Stony Man Trail tomorrow.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 15, 2009
Prior to beginning this hike, the only experiences I had were hiking on State Park trails in Michigan, which were all marked with nice trail posts to mark the way and bulletin boards every so often. You're never more than a mile from civilization, an outhouse, a drinking source, etc. And you have cellphone reception should anything happen.  I thought the hike of Old Rag would be very similar, but just a little more difficult. I had a rude awakening. Let's just say that I was very thankful that I run three miles every other day at the gym. My fiancé came along as well, and he is not so much into exercising and running, so he struggled with the hike quite a bit more than others.

We were such newbies on this trail. First, the trail isn't marked like a State Park trail. It's a series of blue spray paint lines that you have to look for once you get to the rock scramble, which can sometimes be a challenge in itself.

It was August, so the temperatures climbed up into the mid-eighties with humidity about the middle of our hike. We kept thinking we were at the top, but alas, no such luck. People along the way were extremely friendly, and when we asked how much farther we had to go, they would say, "oh, not too far to the summit!"  There was actually one extremely helpful and nice couple our age that stopped to help us when we couldn't figure out how to proceed in the rock scramble. There were markings, and the scramble required us to push with our feet off one rock and reach for a hand hole that we didn't see until they pointed it out. The girl offered to hold my bag for me, and the guy helped push us off. I'm not quite sure how I would have maneuvered that without them, so if you happen to be reading this, thanks again!

I am 5'4", so some of the hike in terms of grabbing and pulling myself up onto things and pushing off of other rocks in the rock scramble, were a little more challenging to me than my 6' tall fiancé. I definitely overcame some fears of the 12 foot deep crevices and heights that day. We packed six bottles of frozen water, but the water wasn't thawing quick enough and even with six bottles, this wasn't enough for the hike on a hot, humid day.  We deifnitely had some arguments about water conservation that day! We thought one of the shelters would have water, so we rushed to get to one of them. No such luck. It's just a picnic-type shelter. No water or bathrooms.

Overall, though, it was a great experience. Even my fiancé who was cursing the hike and me for taking him on the hike the entire time, now wants to go back. The views are something you won't get elsewhere, making the climb well worth it. In retrospect, it wasn't as hard as we played it out to be in our minds while we were hiking. We didn't die from dehydration stranded in a crevice at nightfall with no human contact.and bears roaming about.  It was an adventure, and one of things that I think everyone should try in their lifetime. The hike really pushes you. Even with me being fairly active in the gym, I still felt pain throughout my body the next day. It's a full body workout.  We'll definitely be back, but probably during much cooler weather and with more water!

Oh, and p.s., there are dogs up on top of the rocks. I am so glad I read these reviews, because I probably would have had a heart attack up there had I not. I happened to peak around the corner into one of the crevices, and there was a furry tail pointing back at me.

By: Stephanie Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 13, 2009
Hi Sgt. Helgran! I would absolutely not bring a dog on this hike. Not only are they not allowed (and there are park rangers at the entrance) but they would not be able to make it. It's not just light rock climbing, you have to pull yourself over boulders as tall as an average woman, scramble through tight spots, and balance on two boulders as you cross over a crevice. I have a whippet mix too (aren't they so much fun?), I would suggest hiking the White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run loop hike if you want to bring her. It is a little over 8 miles as well, and if you park at the bottom (the directions for the loop hike on hikingupward start at the bottom of the hike) it is close to Old Rag so you wouldn't be adding a lot of distance to your drive. That hike is a great one for dogs because there is a lot of water to splash around in, and there are some rocks that they can jump around on at the bottom of the falls. Whichever one you do, have fun!

By: Bob Look Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pets are not allowed on the Ridge Trail or on the Saddle Trail above Old Rag Shelter.  For more info check out:

Mt Robertson is an alternative mountain hike in the area.

By: Mainer Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 7, 2009
Great Hike! A challenge up top, but definitely do-able for most who have hiked before. I agreed about the dogs, we saw them on the way up (one of them walked with us from the bottom up) and they seemed hot, but fine. What amazing views! Also, it says on the trail head to expect 7 hours to do the full loop. My boyfriend and I did it in under 5, including a 30 minute lunch break at the top and some impromtu stops for pictures. I recommend this one for sure!

By: Buck Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 2, 2009
I live here, and so do the dogs you're worried about. They get up and down just fine... and are pretty durn smart as well.. go up there for the cool shade and lots of free food from folks like you.. thank you!.. I go up there a lot to... and you probably wouldn't think I'd get there neither.. no fancy shoes or campbells hump or anything.
Don't worry about them dogs none... they definitely are not like people.. much smarter and fitter.  

By: 3rd time around Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 1, 2009
This was my third time hiking Old Rag with my husband (we are both 28 y/o).  We brought my brother and his wife this time around since we are heading out west in a few week and wanted to get a good hike in before the trip.  It was a hot and humid day reaching into the low 90s.  We started out around 9:15am.  As we reached the beginning of the bulk of the rock scramble we came across a dog, mid-sized with matted fur around its neck where an obvious collar had been.  He seemed in decent though he was panting and had no water.  We were very concerned to see him up there as we had already be through some of the scramble and wondered how he would have gotten up there if it weren't for human intervention.  We called to a few hikers ahead of us wonder if they had seen the dog.  They were on a lower level of the scramble and said there were 2 more by them and both in very bad shape.  Nothing prepared me for turning the corner to see both these dog, lying lifeless under the shade of a rock in very bad condition.  They wouldn't take water or food from us and were barely breathing, one with a bad neck wound.  We were so upset, we didn't have a cell phone signal and were hours away from the ranger station.  I have a hard time believing these dog would have gotten there on their own, especiall since at least one d worn a collar not too long ago.  2 of these dogs were dying and there was no way they were going to make it as it would take hours for the rangers to get help, enough people and medical supplies to bring the dogs down and to a vet.  It was one of the most horrible sights I have ever seen and truely soured our hike and possible future hikes at Old Rag.  We got to the parking lot and ranger station but it was closed.  If anyone else was on the trail or knows anything more about the dogs please let us know.  We were so upset and helpless.

By: Matt Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 1, 2009
3rd time around -- There are a number of local dogs who like to follow people up the mountain and/or go up on their own, often resting with alarming unresponsiveness in various improbable spots along the scramble. You hear a lot of conversation with Old Rag regulars and on forums like this one. Did one of them have Holstein like fur?  Keep in mind that the human trail up the mountain is but one of countless ways up Animals generally don't follow our trail and don't have to climb up the Chute to appear around the summit.  They were probably OK, but it's good of you to be concerned. If ever in doubt just remember that dogs sweat through their paws, so if they won't drink wetting their paws down will help them regulate their body temperature.  I've often thought how cool it would be to attach a movie camera to the Old Rag local dogs and see how they get up the mountain -- they end up in some pretty crazy spots!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 24, 2009
This was our first time up to Old Rag.  We loved it!  The views were excellent and the rock scramble at the top adventuresome. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves.  We did the entire clockwise circuit hiking back down the fire trail road but if I had to do it again, I would reach the summit of Old Rag and then back track the way we came so we could do all the excellent rock scramble again.  I'm sure this idea only works with the light hiking traffic that we faced as we would be going “upstream” against many hikers on a busy day. I look forward to taking this hike again in the fall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 13, 2009
We did it!! Sylvia is 53 and I am 60. We work out daily at ACAC in Charlottesville Va. and thought this hike would be a good test of our conditioning. I had hiked it once before and wanted to share this experience with Sylvia. It was an amazing day and we completed the hike in 6 hours. We were both wringing wet and glad we had started at 7:30a.m. for the temperature rose into the high eighties by noon. The trail was empty except for a gentleman from Pa. who we crossed paths with only twice. The views are spectacular and the climbing rugged. We carried plenty of food and water and did not wish for more. We came down the back side, 4.5mi., to the parking area and found the decent tiring and painful to the knees. Sylvia enjoyed the scrambles the best and we are planning a return visit this fall. It was a great day and we recommend the hike highly.

By: Bob Look Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Always a great hike which will have its parking improved in the  future.   SNP recently released its future plans for parking at Old Rag.   For more info see the parking plan entry on my Old Rag Patrols blog.

No Pets.  Watch for ticks.  Take plenty of water.  Have fun.

By: Tomcat Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Today I hiked Old Rag with my 4 year old son and my 16 year old cousin.  It is a great hike my son loved the rock scramble.  I am very proud of my son he made it all the way up with no problems, only with a little help on the scramble.  It was a beautiful day and not too hot.   This is by far the best hike I have ever been on.

By: Amanda Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 4, 2009
We decided to do this hike on the 4th of July!! We arrived fairly early (8:00am) and missed the majority of the crowds. We are a pretty active family and found this hike both strenuous and beautiful. We also hiked with our 2 daughters, who are 9 and 7. They did GREAT and we were surprised that they barely complained! The rock scramble was their favorite part... as both of them love the challenge of figuring out which way to climb and "scramble" around the rocks. It took us a little under 5 1/2 hours to do this hike. I would highly recommend this hike!! It is difficult, but what an accomplishment.. especially for our daughters!!

By: Michael Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 3, 2009
My wife and I recently discovered hiking. We're both active people who love the outdoors, but tend to have different interests (cycling versus running, etc.). So when I mentioned to a coworker that we'd tried some rock climbing out at Carderock recently and really liked it, he recommended that we try the Old Rag Mountain hike. I'd been wanting to take my son on a day hike to the Appalachian Trail anyway, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to scout out the area.

The hike was everything I'd heard about and more. We're in our early 40's, and our son is 10. Although there were a couple of spots in the boulder scramble where he needed a helping hand, he made it through with no problems.  We took our time so that we didn't burn him out, and took a few detours to check out the views.  We still finished the circuit in just under 6 hours.

The trail itself is quite lovely. It's heavily wooded and shady for most of the hike, but gets nicely exposed near the summit. There's a wonderful stream flowing along Weakley Hollow Fire Road that's nice to stop and look at too.

The only negative about the hike at all were the other hikers. Most were very courteous, but on several occasions we passed or were passed by a group of people who talked non-stop. The worst is when you're in the middle of the switchbacks and you have one group talking on the switchback above you and one talking on the switchback below.  We brought sunscreen and bug repellent - but halfway through the Ridge Trail, I was wishing we'd brought a giant can of SHUT THE #&*$@ UP!  to use on our fellow hikers

Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, 2 liters of water per person (minimum), good hiking boots/shoes (some of the boulders can be slippery), and a camera.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 3, 2009
Old Rag is definitely one of the best hikes near the DC metro area.  Before Friday I had already done the hike twice this season, but decided to make it even more interesting by hiking it twice in one day (6hrs 5mins).  I knew there would be crowds on the top 1/4 of the mountain but most of the people were nice.  I did get stuck behind one group that would not shut up about their political views which happened to be the polar opposite of my own.  There are a couple rock scrambles that novice hikers should be aware of and  for the second time in a row I was one of the few people I talked to who missed seeing one of the many bears in the area.  I have not heard of anyone having problems with the bears, but novice hikers should be aware that they are present.  The fire road on the decent is rather boring.  Descending the same route as the ascent would be more enjoyable, but there are usually too many people ascending.  Jogging the fire road is always an option!  Each time I go I manage to run across people who did not bring enough water as well.  I would take at least 2 liters per person to be on the safe side. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 22, 2009
I hiked this mountain with my 28 year old daughter and her friend, to prove that I could still do this kind of thing with her since turning 60.  I could do it but only with a lot of help from her... pushing and pulling me through the rock scrambles.  It was a very hard and challenging hike/CLIMB.  It took us 6 hours.  For a fairly in-shape woman, this was very difficult and I wouldn't do it again.  Beware.  If you aren't young and in shape, the length and difficulty are not fun.  I survived it and enjoyed the sense of accomplishmentand but wanted to accurately describe the challenge.  Loved hiking with my daugher.

By: Mark Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 21, 2009
As just about everyone else has said, Old Rag is a great hike. It has some challenging parts, but each one is do-able given a little thought and attention. Although I had hiked it occasionally before (once with my wife, once with my mother-in-law), I have started hiking it with my kids yearly. We started this tradition last year, when my son was five and my daughter was eight. They both did fine last year and this year, although it took us a *long* time :-) to get all the way around. If you are used to hikes that are just walks in the woods, you may find Old Rag strenuous. If you are more used to serious mountain hiking, you will find it pleasantly invigorating. Bring plenty of water (2 liters per person or so), start early to avoid the crowds if you can, and have some food with you (such as a nice picnic lunch to eat at the summit). Take out *everything* you bring in, as with the crowds Old Rag sees, a little trash here and a little trash there adds up. If you are wondering if you are up to it, my mother-in-law hiked it with me in 2002 when she was 62 [my wife passed then because she was 6 months pregnant], and she just hiked it again with my family in 2009 at age 69, with a 9-month old hip replacement. Try it, you will like it!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 20, 2009
DON'T BRING YOUR DOG!  I had a tiny chihuahua I was carrying with me the day we planned on doing the hike and one of the trail volunteers refused to let us go the mountain with him.  The follwed us to the upper parking lot to insure we didn't go up despite the lame excuse of birds carrying off our dog and that we couldn't handle the rock scamble at the top I have done previously.  Instead they sent us on a hike (Robertson) up the fire road which turned into a long, grueling, interminable incline to a crappy view at the top.  I can say that it almost ruined the day and disappointed the 3 other people who came with us to hike Old Rag for the first time.

By: Steven Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
What a great hike! I hiked in the morning and it was so foggy so I was robbed of the views :( However, I had a great time. The scramble was excellent and a deer literally walked within ten feet of me. I didn't know these Shanandoah deer were so docile. Trail was pretty empty and I only saw four other parties during the hike (It was on a Tues.)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 13, 2009

What a rush!!!  Jen and I couldn't stop saying "WOW"!  The hike was everything that we had read and heard about.  The 8+ mile trip tested our endurance and strength.  We traveled the loop clockwise with the vertical trail being steep and long.  Once we got to the rock scramble, our leg pains went away.  The hike was so worth the results.  The scramble provided fantastic views and memorable scenery that we will take with us.  The hike down the other side seemed long but refreshing.  We took the saddle trail down and saw numerous deer with their young. Totally worth the trip from Akron, Ohio

By: Bill and Kristina Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 13, 2009
It was a damp morning, overcast skies, ten of us met at parking lot 2. Team Sentara! Lead by our guide and great fitness trainer, Tom! (Thanks Tom, we all loved every step of the hike, when is the next trip?)

What better way to start off hiking, I'm only hoping that there are other hikes that can equal this. It was fantastic.

The initial slope was a great warm up, The switchback sections were a good cardio workout, but the rock scamble has to be seen to be understood, a good pair of hiking boots are worth every penny, the rocks can be a bit slick from the mud from those who came before you, so traction given from good boots is an advantage,  but we had a few in fitness shoes and they made it up fine. After we made it to the top, I was just pumped, I wanted to do it again (after a hot tub and a week off)

On the back side, we came across a doe and fawn, great photo op. with mom allowing her fawn to feed.

One tip for those who want to hike Old Rag, Pack light, only take what you need, a light camera is worth it. That was my last hike lugging my big DSLR. TAKE PICTURES< TAKE PICTURES, TAKE PICTURES.

I drained a 100oz camelback, with a quart of backup to spare, I'm happy that we didnt have full sun, a hot day would have been a little differment.

Total time, with stops for photo ops, lunch, and breaks: 6 Hours, starting and finishing at lot #2. Workout stats: 4200 calories, (pusing 225 lbs up hill is hard work, even at 6'1") Fitness level: very active, Age 45.

We picked up our " I made it to the top of Old Rag" tee-shirts at a place on Rt 211, about 1.6 miles west of Main street (Rt. 522) is Sperryville.

We are looking forward to doing this hike again, in the fall, the colors will be amazing, I'm sure.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 8, 2009
i have been on the hike a few times before and it never gets "old". when i went i brought a friend that has never really done gone hiking before and she fell in love with it. the  scenery and the workout are all worth the hike. if you ever have the chance to go it is highly recomended by a united states marine to go for it.

By: Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I am 60 and just started hiking last year.  Old Rag is an outstanding experience.  We made it all the way to the summit and the scramble was indeed challenging.  The physical challenge was great and then we were rewarded with the unbelievable views.  I look forward to seeing Old Rag again.  I would agree with other comments that this is not a beginner's hike.  It is indeed challenging not only in length but climbing ability.  Well worth the effort.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 1, 2009
WOW!  What a wonderful walk.  Used to walking in the UK, this was something with a bit of a difference.  A lucky park at the top park excluded the boring lower part of the walk, so straight into the wooded part - gently climbing to the rock scramble.  This was just pure fun until we reached that niggle - you'll know what I mean if you know the walk!  Fell and twisted a knee there, but that didn't spoil what has to be the most memorable walk. Weather perfect with fabulous views throughout. Don't miss it if you have the chance.

By: SeaKayaker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hi Auntie E.  I'm the guy who offered you the Advil.  Glad you made it down okay on Sunday.  When we got back to the upper parking lot I told the trail volunteer in the orange T-shirt that someone had injured their knee and was probably going to take a while to get down.

Old Rag is one of my favorite hikes.  I'm 55 and have done the circuit 4 times in the past 2 years.  This time I brought my wife and 10-year old daughter along for the first time.  They are both mountain goats and I had trouble keeping up with them!  Best advice is to start this hike early in the morning and bring lots of water.  I went through 3 liters and it wasn't even hot out.  We had great weather and great views of the valley and surrounding mountains.  In the summer this can be a brutal hike if you are unprepared and out of shape.

The trail patrol added a rope to ease the bottleneck just after the cave and it seems to have done the trick.  The wait there was minimal.

Worst part of this hike is the walk out on Weakley Hollow Fire Road and then the final mile or so to the lower parking lot.  Very long and boring.  The views of the mountain from the fire road in the spring or fall when the trees are not  leafed out are pretty spectacular.

By: GrouseK9 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 31, 2009
Finished a climb of Old Rag with my 8 year old son today. We arrived at 6:55am and scored a coveted weekend parking spot at the Trail Head. We climbed our standard pace of 55 minutes on & 5 minute break. What a blast. Ben had an awesome time. I had to boost him up a few spots. We only lost the blue-blazes once for a few meters. The weather cleared and was wonderful. He told riddles & jokes most of the way up. We brought too much water with us, but the pizza we took hit the spot at the top. We went around the circuit clockwise and did most of our scrambling on the way up. He had great fun imagining faces in the granite. We saw a ton of Rufous Sided Towhees and even a Raven at the top. On the way up we leap-frogged 3 folks who seemed ill prepared for the scrambling. If you do this, make sure you bring plenty of water and are reasonably fit! An 8 year old can do it, but if you have been a couch potato for the last decade, you should be able to do a 5K run first.

By: Auntie E Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 31, 2009
What an extraordinary day!  A friend and I hit the trail at 7:45 a.m.  I hurt my knee just before reaching the summit.  Thank goodness for the extra t-shirt I had stuffed in my backpack.  I tied it around my knee to stabilize it, and continued with the hike as best I could.  My friend found a walking stick for me in the woods, and we made our way down the mountain.  It took us 5 hours to reach the parking lot, but nearly everyone that passed us inquired about my injury and either offered assistance or wished me well.  I was greatly impressed with everyone's kindness. One girl offered me her phone that surprisingly worked on the mountain, and one gentleman even offered to give me the walking stick he was using.  It sounds a little goofy, but it kind of restored my faith that people are good. I must also credit my friend big-time for sticking with me and helping me down the mountain.  Thanks, J!  I understand that knee injuries are very common.  When packing for the trip, make sure to throw a knee stabilizer or ace bandage in your backpack just in case.  You (or someone else) might need it. Even with the injury, I still had a phenomenal time. The views were breathtaking and the rock scrambling was a blast.  As soon as my knee heals, I'll be back!! 

By: seasonedhiker Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I have hiked this hike many times in weather varying from arid hot summer days to snowy winter storms and I want to respond to FirstTimeHiker's review...  First of all, do you really think it's fair that you rate the hike so low just because of YOUR OWN naivete in planning and execution?

You made countless mistakes on this hike and even before the hike started that caused your suffering and you think that means it's a bad hike?  The signage on Old Rag is setup so a 10 year old can comprehend it, yet your seeming oblivion to the gigantic map at the parking lot, the free handout maps at the pay station, and the countless concrete trail markers with directions printed on them is astounding... yet you still blame the hike for your troubles.

You will probably never hike again, but if you do, please do EVERYBODY a favor (including the rescue folks who would otherwise have to bail you out) and educate yourself about "The Ten Essentials" and set realistic goals for your wilderness adventures.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 25, 2009
A friend of mine suggested we hike Old Rag for Memorial Day. This is the first time I have ever done any hiking. My friend had originally hiked the first part of the trail, the 9 switchbacks got to the beginning of the rock scramble and turned around. This is what she planned for us to do this  time. We arrived around 2:30pm and parked in the upper parking lot. I was depending on her for directions and unfortunately this is were our troubles started. We ended taking Wheatley (sp?) Hollow Fire Trail to the Bryds Nest Day Camp and did the back part of the trail first. It took us 3 hours to cover this part. At this point we started the Rock Scramble and it was horrible, way too much for a newbie. At one point after we had made it down the rope we were trying to figure out how to get over, around this group of boulders. The signs were confusing. I saw at least 2 arrows and 3 blue slashes in this small area. A trio of 18 yr old boys helped guide us down through the boulders.  One of the trail guides had told us that once we made it through the Rock Scamble we would then be hitting 2 miles of downward trail. Easy walking. Ha, I beg to differ.There need to be more markers that tell you how much further you have to go. The trail guide also told us that they check the cars in the parking lots to make sure no one was left on the mountain in the dark. I know that did not happen. I was still walking down at 8pm and told my friend to go ahead and run down to her car because by that point I was not moving too fast. My knee was not bending too well and we were losing light. I told her to see if she could get a flashlight and maybe some help from a park official. By 8:40pm I could barely see were I was going and I was afraid I had somehow gotten onto another trail because these 2 miles trail seemed endless. For the last 40 minutes or so I had been called out Hello hoping someone would hear me and help. At this point I was very concerned that I was on another trail and getting further away from the original trail and my friend and any help she could find. I was trying to find a rock and a dry place to spend the night and wait for the park rangers to find me when I thought I heard something. I heard yelling and I started to yell back. About 5 minutes later I saw some light. Yeah, my friend had found some help and was coming to my rescue. I started going down the trail slowly one step at a time and kept yelling and letting her know I was OK. Well. my friend found me but their was no trail guide. She had gotten to the parking lot. Her car was the only one there. She turned the car lights. She tried calling 911 on her cell but could not get through. Then she had the brilliant idea of using the light from her Samsung cell phone to light the path and she got an emergency flare, light it and came back and got me. It was not fun. I fell down twice and the bruises and scratches on my knees are not pretty. At one point my friend fell and really banged up 3 fingers on her hand and we through they might be broken. We finally got to the parking lot at 9:40pm, soaking wet and covered with mud. In one way I was really proud of us that we had completed this trek. ( I just turned 50 and am a plus size female) but the entire experience truly sucked.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 25, 2009

First time hiker.   Sorry your hike continued to be a challenge.   Glad you made it out all right.  I am hoping you recover quickly and come back well rested on a nicer day and do the circuit in the reverse direction.   I enjoyed the time our trails overlapped for awhile.     While many treat Old Rag like it is a walk in a front country park it  is truly a backcountry wilderness hike and survival can become an issue especially when it is cold and wet outside.  Not to be overly dramatic but there are very real dangers on this mountain and people do get injured and yes some have died.    I am not a guide but work as a volunteer for Old Rag Mountain Stewards, PATC, and NPS.  You can learn more about my patrols at or  .   Your comments on signage and blazes are very good feedback.   I will make sure your comments get to appropriate parties and add some of my own concerns/thoughts.   There is no one that would normally check on cars especially since they can belong to the frequent backcountry campers in the park.   What I had said too your group was that I would check specifically for your car when I got out.  This is why I asked you to describe it.   In order to restore some of your faith in mankind,  I want you to know that I did check for your car.   I also checked for the cars of two other groups who told me they did not have any lights and were near the summit around 6PM.    While I picked up and dropped off my radio at the Old Rag Fee Station I parked my car and entered the trail from Berry Hollow on this day.   Berry Hollow is around a 20-30 minute drive from the Old Rag Fee Station.     I got back to the fee station around 10:30 and there were no cars in either lot.  Had I needed to deal with an injured hiker I may have a few hours later than this but I would have still checked or had someone else check for your car.  Of course if I had died of a stroke, heart attack, or rockslide while on the mountain you would have been out of luck.    I remained in the lower lot until around 11PM while I wrote my days report.       Visitors too Old Rag should be aware that cell phones do not generally work but that there are emergency phones at both the Old Rag and White Oak fee stations.    Visitors should also be aware that if you are injured in a non-ambulatory way on parts of Old Rag it may take as long as six hours until first responders arrive and potentially another 10 hours until your littered out to an ambulance.    While there are a few of us volunteers no one should plan on us being there and they should assume this is a self rescue mountain.    I admire the way you and your hiking partner handled the crises once it occured.    In your situation many hikers make decisions that make things worse.   You and your hiking partner did not do this and did a wonderful job of staying calm, using good judge and ingenuity to get yourselfs out safely.     

By: First Timer Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2009
This hike was absolutely amazing!  My partner and I decided it would be best to leave very early as we have heard this was a long/popular trail.  We ran in to a lot of people on the trail however when we got to the rock scramble we were alone.  It was perfect, a great challenge and a lot of fun.  Although we were not expert hikers we were able to transverse through the trail, bring a map so that you know how far and can get an understanding for the layout.  I ran out of water at the top of the rock scramble (had camel back).  This was a great challenge but also took some planning...  will definately be back out on this trail again.

By: Darren Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2009
This was really my first hiking trip and I loved it. It was tuff, but fun. I got there at 6:30 am in the upper lot and started about 7:00 am and finished about 12:00 noon. I thought the rock scramble was the best. I am 40years old. I am coming back on 5-30-09 and doing another trail at the same area. My suggestion is make sure you bring the trail maps, they are a big help.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 21, 2009
This was the first time I had ever hiked this trail, and it was awesome! Me and two friends started out just before 9 a.m., there were already several cars parked but we only saw about 5 other hikers. We started out with a very quick pace, but once we got to the rocks we slowed down to enjoy the views and catch our breath. The trail was easy to follow with all of the blue signs, but for a while it's almost like there is no trail, you are just climbing the rocks. The views were amazing! Reached the parking lot around 1 pm so it wasn't too long, the descent is very easy down the fire trail. I was very grateful to have hiking shoes on for this trail because my tennis shoes would not have kept me on the rocks for the ascent. This hike is definitely a top one on my list!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 21, 2009
In response to MJ...
The rope was fixed this past Sunday afternoon in anticipation of the heavy crowding conditions on Memorial Day weekend..agreed it is unnecessary, but it will go a loooong way toward alleviating the crowding and backlog of hikers just milling about (to the tune of multiple hours on a busy day!)
It will be very helpful to all weekend hikers if the rope is left in place.. if for no other reason than to assist others who may not have the agility to overcome the obstacle..
Old Rag Mountain Stewards

By: MJ Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
You all did a great job fixing that rope -- It was a surprise but actually pretty nice.  I would have loved that the first time I did the rock scramble!  On that occasion I did a reverse circuit so was headed down the scramble...  Getting to that point in the hike and trying to figure it out *almost* had me give up and head back up to the fire road. Ended up attaching some paracord to my pack, lowering it to the bottom, and following. I didn't have enough maneuvering room with the pack on to get down safely.  Little touches like that are great - I personally hope the rope stays - If there's a "safe" spot you can recommend I'd be happy to haul up a spare and stow it.

I can only imagine the holiday weekend crowds. Maybe I'll head up this week again with a trash bag and see how full I can get it.

By: MJ Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I can't think of a better way to spend a day than hiking Old Rag - I swear the park rangers stationed in the area have the best jobs in the country. Yesterday marked my first hike on Old Rag since last Fall - perfect weather and very few people made for one of the best days ever on the trail. One item of note is that someone fixed a rope at one of the crux spots on the rock scramble - unnecessary but convenient, and I imagine it helps a lot to speed up the queues the weekend hikers have to deal with. It's worth taking a week day off, waking up early, and getting to the mountain by 7 or 8 to experience it as it deserves to be experienced.

By: WyEast Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 16, 2009
My first time hiking Old Rag. No kidding about the crowds! I hit the trial head at the same time as a group of about 50 plus Japanese tourists (or family reunion?) from ages of about 10 to 70. So I high tailed it up the mountain, worried about being stuck behind them on the scrambling parts. I happily managed to set a pace for myself where the trail wasn't too crowded and I only bumped into one couple on the scrambling part. The summit was crowded, but the fire road peaceful. It was cloudy and foggy this morning so no views but it was still gorgeous with the rocks and the clouds. Maybe the weather deterred some people, but it was like being at Yosemite - totally nuts! Next time I'll probably do it on a weekday or the dead of winter to avoid the masses, though.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 16, 2009
Had a wonderful time on this hike.  There were a definitely a ton of people there so it was necessary to watch out for others on the rock scramble, which was more fun than I had imagined.  We were in a cloud 2/3rds of the time, but it was still beautiful in a misty and surreal way.  The fire road was beautiful and serene as well, and a nice easy cool-down after the main hike.  There's also a nice little stream at the end to cool your feet in!
We took the fire road last...I would not recommend doing it first, because then you'll be going against the crowds coming from the other direction, and you might find it more difficult doing the rock scramble backwards.
We also saw a fat, Holstein-colored dog who eagerly opted to be our spirit guide and lead us to the trail head!

By: The Tick Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 9, 2009
A friend and I had done this hike previously and wanted to get back to it before the crowds came in and this day was a good choice. I had forgotten how tiring the trip to the summit actually is. The humidity was so thick, it drained the energy right out of me.The scrambling is slow going but worth it.  The scrambling is the reason people come and did not dissapoint. The fire road down was uneventful but had a nice view of the water. Spent a while at the summit and the breeze made it a very comfortable rest. Will do again at some point. The 4 mile or so fire road is the only reason it does not get 5 stars.

By: Tony Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 2, 2009
Did this hike today.  Was pretty strenuous for sure.  The rock scrambles were fun and a bit tricky at some places.  Cloudy day today so the views were obscured by the clouds that covered the mountain, but was some good exercise and a good time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 2, 2009
This was the third time I did this hike, it was part of 4 peak marthon hike we did this year. Got to the hike around 7am, and had only a couple of cars on the parking lot. Completed the round about in less than 3 hours and hiked  to white oak, cedar run and hiked all the way upto Hawksbill through to skyland and way back. Great hike and one of my best one through the years. Next time we plan to to do stoney and mt. robertson on the way back. Took us close to 12 hours for the entire trip, every bit was worth it.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 2, 2009

It was my first hike in a long time.  Didn't expect the rock climbing but thoroughly enjoyed it.  I wore Nike Air Maxes and I would definitely recommend hiking boots.  My shoes worked fine better than the Nike Shocks that some people in our group wore.  They were just a little slippery in some of the rock climbing areas.

I would definitely recommend this hike.  Please remember to bring lots of water and to take your water bottles with you.  Thank you to all the volunteers that were picking up trash and keeping the area beautiful.

Also there were two dogs on the trail that are from the area. Bo and I forgot the other one’s name but they were extremely nice and helpful, believe it or not.

By: Jason Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I hike Old Rag every year a few times.  It is a must hike and truly amazing in the fall.  I like the rock scramble and the fire road is so peaceful. Enjoy!

Jason Watson

By: KenG Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 24, 2009
This hike was much harder than I expected.  I did it on my 60th birthday and now wish I had done it a few decades earlier.  My wife also had trouble with it, but my daughters (29 and 16) did not.  So, if you are young, strong and limber, then it is not so bad.  It doesn't hurt to be fearless either.  There is one point where you have to jump across a small crevasse and, sure, most the time you will make it with ease.  But if you don't, you will be in a world of hurt.

We went the clock-wise route, which took us over the rock scramble on the way up.  We met some hikers who went up the same way, and then turned around and came back down over the rock scramble so they could do it again.  They were very young, very limber and very healthy.  We, on the other hand, kept going, even when we felt like laying down and dying, just so we wouldn't have to face the scramble again.  The entire hike took us about 7.5 hours, and was pretty enjoyable during the first part of the ascent and then again after we finally reached the true summit and started to believe that we were actually going to make it back down.

We didn't see any snakes or bears, but we did run into the Old Rag dog near the summit and then again back in the parking lot.

I don't want to scare you off this trip, but if you haven't done it before and are on the far side of fifty, you might want to consider going up and down the counter-clockwise portion of the trail so that you can reach the top without having to go over the rock scramble.

By: Bonnie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 18, 2009
This was a wonderful hike, however, not at all for beginners. We thought we did our research- we did not, so let me warn- if you're a beginner- get ready for the challenge of your life!

Here are some pieces of advice for the beginners that I used (or could have used), and am very glad i did:
- Pace yourself, do not go at an aggressive pace. If your group is faster than you- tell them to go ahead and you will meet them at the top.
- The summit is deceiving. You think you get there about four or five times before you actually do.
- WEAR PANTS! The rock scramble is basically a 2 hours piece of the hike (I was under the impression it was a 20 min piece)
- Take breaks- it's perfectly alright. You will need them, especially as the altitude increases.
- Bring much more water than you think you'll need.
- It is 8.8 miles.

GOOD LUCK! And enjoy. Maybe i'll do it again one day...but the fact is, I finished, and I'm very proud :)

By: Bob Look Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 18, 2009

Arguably one of the top ten hikes on the east coast.

I highly encourage you to consider this hike despite the crowds. For a small mountain it offers spectacular views and a little bit of an entry level mountaineering experience. While strenuous and requiring a few short sections of (around six foot) vertical climbing I have seen hikers as young as one and as old as ninety enjoy themselves on this hike.

Every member of your group should have fun on this trip. For some this may mean trying to push their cardio limits and for others it may mean going slowly and taking frequent breaks so it may make sense to split your group based on the pace different individuals want to sustain.

If you split your group have a well communicated group management plan. It is best to keep a buddy system and have clear expectations of where the group will reunite even if that is when everyone gets back to their cars.

It is best not to allow young adventuresome kids to get out of sight on this trail. This trail has many vertical drops, and the possibility of encountering a Bear, Copperhead or Rattlesnake, Poison ivy is common. Of course none of these things should concern you if good judgment and appropriate knowledge are being used but very serious negative consequences could result if either knowledge or judgement is missing.

If you have a large group you may want to split it up just so as to limit the groups impact on other visitors experience. During Old Rag's peak times this advice is probably mute.

If you spend time near tall grass or woods in our area you should learn about and take precautions for ticks.

As the weather gets into the 80's and 90's expect each hiker to need an ounce of water per pound of body weight for the day. (At least up to 100 ounces per hiker).

Cell phones will either not work at all or perhaps only work at a location like a summit.

With the amount of traffic this mountain receives even if only one percent of hikers litter including orange peels, banana peels, and tissue paper it results in a visual assault on future visitors. Please get up to speed and practice Leave No Trace ethics.

Dogs are not permitted on the Ridge Trail or Saddle trail above Old Rag Shelter.

I am usually on the mountain as a volunteer patroller one day of every weekend. These patrols are done for either PATC Trail Patrol or Old Rag Mountain Stewards. Starting in May the Old Rag Mountain Stewards will be on the mountain on most weekend days. We are there to help with information, injuries, lost hikers, and liter pick up. We welcome questions or requests for help. Do not depend on us being available and consider this a self-rescue mountain but that said, realize we may be able to help.

I maintain a blog about my weekly Old Rag Patrols along with lots of advice at it has a link back to this site under the Blogs List section.

By: hdd Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 11, 2009

We stayed at Skyland Friday night and got a late start in the morning because the fog was so thick we couldn't see 2 car lengths ahead of us.  It wasn't fog after all, but a low lying cloud that hung around hung around most of the day and block the views from the trail.  The trail was still pretty crowded.  There was never a time when we didn't see other hikers.  In fact, we saw a little too much of one woman who decided to take a dump just off the trail in plain view of us.  We stopped as far away as we could and examined the tops of the trees and the rocks below us, anything but her in all her glory.  As we continued up the trail, we couldn't help noticing that this pig person left her used toilet paper right where she dropped it.  Disgusting.   For the most part, the trail was remarkedly free of trash, except for a few dropped tissues that I think were left by the same socially challenged woman. 

I'm only a weekend hiker at best.  The uphill climb and the rock scramble was a challenge, but not overly difficult.  There were a few places where I gratefully accepted a helping hand up the rocks.  Our 11-old-son was in his element, easily hopping and climbing from one rock to another.  We found a niche in a spot near the summit that was out of the wind to stop and eat lunch.  I actually sort of liked the somewhat windy chilly damp conditions of the day because it kept us cool.  The only downside was that we couldn't see anything but a blanket of clouds below us.  We had a good day. I'm only sorry I've never done this hike before because I was always a little intimidated by it. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 28, 2009
This was my third trek to Old Rag. Started up the Weakley Hollow fire road for a nice leisurely hike about 11 am. Quickly turned to fog half way up so as to obscure the view when we arrived at the summit. Took the celebratory photos as we ate lunch and also posed the boulder and lever scenes. The boulder scramble was fun but daunting. I was in a party of 6 and we greatly appreciated the help from each other as we pulled people up and also gave coaching for the best slide down on certain obstacles. The hike ended in a complete downpour. But no crying here. A bit of food at Brown's Chinese/American Restaurant in Luray, good conversation about the hike and hot green tea provided all the recuperation our party needed. I'm ready for another ascent for the fall colors, and hopefully, an expansive view from the summit. By the way, my party was primarily Sunday afternoon hikers.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 23, 2009
This is my second time and was as good as the first (last year in May) except the weather was even better today.  Mid 50's, Spring sun, a total of 5-6 people seen the entire loop.  Saw the Old Rag dog several times (he was leading a hiker down the rock scramble)- I'm pretty used to the hike so took it easy.  Nothing else to report everyone else has except if you're hiking in the next week or two there are a few little patches of ice you may encounter and a little mud- nothing of much concern.

To me the key to truly enjoying Old Rag is:

1) Don't race.  I have a tendency to race but have learned to relax.  You will get a workout even if you take it easy (eg. 5h).
2) Go on Weekdays whenever possible. I haven't gone on weekends but have read and heard some pretty bad stories (waiting foreever for people to navigate the scramble, for example).  On the other hand, if you don't care then..
3) Spend at least a half hour at the top and ENJOY it (eat lunch, rock hop, take photos).  I see so many people that just cruise through or turn around.  What's the point of all that work?  Enjoy your accomplishment.

Great hike and will be sad to see it go as I'm moving :(

P.S.  If you find a roll of exposed film there it's mine!!! :)

By: Linda Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 14, 2009
We have been here for 2 times.  this was our first time hiking here in Winter time. It was rainning and temprature was around 32 F. There was fog that generated a special view.   we had a great time.

By: Cindy Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 12, 2009
Our trio arrived at the upper parking lot shortly before 11:00 a.m. We felt lucky to get one of the last two spots available. By 11:05, another car pulled up, got the last spot, then, shortly thereafter, two more vehicles arrived. It was a semi-busy day on Old Rag.

The hike up was spectacular. The air was cool, and the views were phenomenal. Previously, I'd only hiked Old Rag in the summer, so the views without leaves on the trees were stunning. We met a dog part way up. (THE Old Rag dog?) His tag indicated that he lived across the street from the Old Rag parking lot. We poured a little water for him, but he wasn't interested. Seems that he was just taking a breather before heading back down the mountain.

The trail conditions were excellent. There was some damp dirt on the trail but not enough to wet our boots and cause problems on the rocks. We saw a little ice but nothing we couldn't walk around. The views from the summit were gorgeous. It was chilly up there and cold enough to see your breath – but we hung around for an hour enjoying our lunch and the serenity before taking the fire road back to the parking lot. Dressing in layers is a must.

Can't wait to go back again soon to see what a new season has brought to Old Rag.

By: Midlo day hikers Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 8, 2009

Our group of 5 (3 teenage girls, 8 yr. old boy & me) began hiking around 7:45 AM. The upper parking lot had 4 cars there when we arrived.  It took a long time to move this group up the mountain...reaching the summit around 12:30 PM.  My 8 yr. old son hiked the entire 8 mile circuit with no complaint, but the girls were a completely different story!  This is a hard hike if your not in shape.  But they loved the rock scramble and pushed themselves to finish the hike.  We met great people on the trail.  We left Old Rag with big smiles and sore feet.

By: Mike & Linda Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 8, 2009

We hiked Old Rag on Sunday Feb 9.  We got there about 8:00 AM, and the upper parking lot still had a few spaces left.  We met "Old Rag Dog" and he went up the trail with us for about a mile or so, before going back down with another hiker.

The weather was perfect, although windy on the summit.  Had a great time.

We began encountering some ice on the ridge trail about half way up, and it was intermittent from then on, in the shady areas.  There was a LOT of mud, particularly going down to Weakly Hollow, before the fire road. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 17, 2009

I do a patrol on the mountain most weekends.    Winter is a special time on the mountain.    Far fewer people and lots more views especially on lower trails that are under canopy in the warm weather.    Be aware the ice and or snow can make the route far more difficult and the lack of lots of fellow hikers adds new meaning to the concept of self rescue.   On the other hand it  is surprising the number of winter weekends when the trail is clear and dry.    I have a blog which is a photo journal of my patrols and includes helpful advice.    It can be found at:

By: Robbie Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This was my and my sons second trip to Old Rag and this time I was fortunate to have my wife and daughter join us.  The weather was perfect, approx 47 degrees at 9:30am and absolutely crystal clear blue skies!!  It was a little breezy up on top but I believe that is always expected.  We hiked up the steeper 2.5 mile side and struggled a little through the rock scramble and I'll explain that a little later.  We finally made it to the summit at approximately 1pm.  The views were spectacular and yes there were quite a few other people enjoying the day as it was quite busy at the top.  We decided to take the longer route down the West Saddle Back side, knowing it was longer but not as challenging.  We finished the hike at 3:30 and of course we did have lunch on the summit at the Old Rag Bar and Grill.  Steak and beer always good!!

Now to explain our difficulty with the rock scramble....
Before making the hike we checked out this website to see if dogs were allowed and did not see anything indicating that they were'nt so we decided to take our yellow lab.  When we arrived we saw the No Pet signs but had already driven 1.5 hrs to come do the hike so we decided to risk getting caught and took the dog (kept on leash) with us.  I had remembered the 12 foot gorge and figured that would be our biggest challenge with the dog and I was correct.  However, I had forgotten all of the other challenging climbs and we really had a time getting the dog through all of the rocks.  In the end, we survived and the dog had a great time, did not get hurt and did not bother anyone!

Please add a note to this web page indicating that no dogs are allowed on the hike!!
Looking forward to doing it again in the future but without the dog :)


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 30, 2008
What a beautiful day to go hiking on Old Rag. Could not have been more perfect. Got to take both my daughters and dad. The girls loved it and want to go back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 14, 2008

I was the fifth vehicle in the upper parking area at 8:15 Sunday morning.  This was my first time at Old Rag.  As I was getting my gear ready, two more vehicles pulled into the lot, so I quickly started up the mountain, clockwise.  I encountered some ice before the scramble, but nothing to impair movement.  I reached the scramble, and there was a lot more ice.  I exercised a bit of caution, made my way up the mountain, and stopped to help another hiker get over a particularly large rock.  I finally reached the summit (thank you, NPS, for the sign), took in the stunning views, enjoyed a snack, and made my way around the mountain in five hours.  I'll try it counter-clockwise next time.

By: Art B III Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 6, 2008
A good hike today. My third Old Rag hike this year.  Upper lot filled by 9:00. 18 degrees at 9:00. We did the clockwise loop in 5.5 hours w/ lunch and a couple of side trips. The high didn’t get over 25. We found patches of ice on the trail. There was zero melting today, all the ground was frozen solid. Light snow flurries in the afternoon. The stunning 360 panorama at the top attracts lots of hikers and unfortunately litter. Pretty steep ascent and challenging scrambles. This is not for the out of shape or unprepared. Remember to dress inlayers and to bring extra clothes, water and food. A beautiful hike but not a hike to get away from it all.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This was my second time up Old Rag and I brought my 24 year-old son with me this time.  He was visiting from Colorado and frequently hikes in the Rockies. 

We were pleasantly surprised to see only a handful of cars in the upper lot when we arrived at 9:00 a.m., and we didn't see anyone on the trail - even the summit.  He loved the hike and gave it the thumbs up with regards to difficulty, but he barely broke a sweat.  I was a little more challenged and he did have to give his old mom a hand up in one spot. 

The snow blew in right after we left the summit and we hurried down the back side for a 4-hour round trip.  It was sunny again by the time we reached the parking lot.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 16, 2008
Great hike! Needed help on a couple of occasions, both with a hand up on a few of the harder rocks and with directions at one point--thanks Bob and friend. Also, don't recommend wearing shorts...

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
So what can I add to the conversation here? If you want to go on a holiday, try Veterans Day! I arrived at the parking lot at 8:40am, with about only 6 other cars there, and when I got up to the upper parking area, it wasn't overflowing. When I got back at 2:30pm, there were definitely over a hundred cars in the lower, and the upper lot was overflowing to an extent I didn't know was legal. Thanks to my fairly early start on a holiday where not everyone gets off, solitude was about a 2 maybe even a 3. I did a large loop, adding in a climb to Robertson Mountain. For those who always seem to inquire here, it looks like there are a couple camping spots at the summit of Robertson Mountain. Just note that its eastern slope is a very steep ascent/descent. My loop was about 13.25 miles, and about 4,200' of ascent. Robertson Mountain does have a small overlook, but it's westward-only, there really aren't any good photo ops of the Ol' Rag. Next time I'll take the Corbin Hollow Trail. It's still flowing pretty well this time of year, so it must not be terribly seasonal like some other streams in SNP. As for my hike of Old Rag itself. Just read the other glowing reviews, they're all true!

By: Greg and Pearlly Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 9, 2008
This weekend was our first time in SNP. We did this hike on Sunday morning, and it's as busy as the other reviews say. We arrived at the parking lot at 8am and there were already a dozen cars there (the upper lot was full). The ranger at the parking lot was very friendly and offered some great advice about the hike. The rock scramble is indeed quite challenging but very fun. The view from the summit makes the hard work worthwhile! Definitely start on the Ridge trail so that you tackle the scramble on the way up instead of the way down. Thanks to the Hiking Upward site maintainers and the other reviewers! The maps, instructions, and tips were all excellent.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 3, 2008
At about 7AM, my co-worker and I were the first car to pull into the parking lot at the trail head.  During the first 40 minutes, we saw a number of newly posted signs that warned of bears on the trail.  The signs had a phone number on it, but my co-worker's cell phone was unable to connect from that location.  My co-worker was especially concerned, so I agreed to discontinue our hike, and we turned back.  Then about 20 minutes later we watched a family of 6 (that included one 5 year old, and two who were about 8 years old) walking up the trail without a care in the world.  That provided my co-worker with a newly found courage, so we made a 180 degree turn, and up the mountain we started again.  It was difficult to climb the rocks at many several, as wet rocks were making it near impossible for out hiking boots to provide good footing.  As a result, we used out hands quite a bit, making me realize that I should always carry gloves on this hiking rout.  We each had a backpacks that had to be removed at several locations to successfully maneuver around the rocks so next time I'll use a smaller back.  As we approached the top, we saw that same family of 6, which had so much energy that one of their crew (8 year old) was climbing a tree.  After about 3 hours we reached the top.  The view was terrific, as there were clouds floating below us, providing for great photographs.  On the way up the trail, we saw about 14 other hikers.  After about 30 minutes, we started down the same way we came up, and saw many hikers making their way up the mountain.  That was hard to imagine, as it was a non-holiday (Monday morning), but up they came in droves.  There was one spot in the rocks that created a tremendous bottleneck, as about 15 hikers were lined up to individually tackle a 7 foot drop.  On the way down, I'd say we saw about about 60 hikers making their way up.  Many of those hikers would ask how much further to the top, and we'd give an honest answer, despite thinking that some of them lacked the conditioning to make it to the top.  (Not such a big deal, as even we turned around)  We reached the car at 1PM, and were glad to see it.  Next time up, I will just bring two containers of Gatorade, an an 8-ounce bag of dried bananas, and gloves.  Anyone heading up this trail really, really should bring a friend, as there is simply too much potential for injury.  I'd think twice before bringing up anyone younger than 7 years old, as it is quite a hike.  Still, I must say, that 5 year old did make it to the top without any noticable difficulty.  He must have super genes.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 3, 2008

Excellent weather, very few hikers and fantastic visibility made up for our late 1pm start.  I read over and over that the hike takes 5.5 hours for the 8.8 mile loop.  I don't think this accounts for taking it all in.  One thing I wanted to make clear for Old Rag newbies (like myself), is that you will want to spend time soaking up the texture, geometry and physics of the granite, and of course the views.  If you are a camera nut, add several hours.  But here's the other thing, if you've never hiked the trail - you don't have to do the entire loop, and you don't even have to do the true summit.  The "minor" northern summit is fantastic.  We made this summit in a couple of hours up the ridge trail from the upper lot, explored around there for an hour or so, and then went back down the way we came.  I think this makes a fairly strenuous hike of a little more than 5 miles round trip.  If its your first hike, this route is also a very easy way to gauge your time at the summit, since you know the route back - and obviously the return goes faster with help from Sir Isaac going downhill.  I was unsure what to bring.  Next time, after a parking lot pre-hike sandwich, I think I'll bring a camera, a couple of granola bars and one bottle of water in a VERY small, light pack.  Note that you'll likely have to conserve with just one bottle of water, even in cooler temperatures.

I'm surprised that so many people bring young kids.  Some areas seemed very dangerous.

By: Jon Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 30, 2008

I accutally had a couple of questions about the hike.

I planned on doing it this weekend with some friends from out of town. We wouldn't be arriving on the mountain till about 2:00 pm and with the sunsetting at 6:15 is it possible to hike the trail? We are all in great shape, and I saw that one post did it in 4hrs 15 mins so I am holding out some hope. I am guessnig we'd have to bring some flash lights as well...

Also, can anyone recomend a good campsite near by? I can be reached at JonCunha @ gmail .com (please delete the spaces when emailing...)


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I am going at it again. Bringing my other daughter and another friend along. I got a new sport leg and with the shock absorber, it will be a lot easier on the down side of the mountain. Can't wait. Thank GOD for days off from school, it gives us another chance to get to the top before bad weather hits us. Enjoy a video I made of the hike at the bottom of the page. You can check out our last trip on this page.

By: slim local Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 27, 2008
Contrary to the previous reviewer...DO NOT TAKE SHARP ROCK ROAD... it is a local unimproved road, very, VERY narrow , maintained and open for access to local farmland and homes. It is NOT designed for traffic of the volume that Old Rag attracts (hence the other entrance 1 mile away.. duh!) Most visitors to Old Rag drive at speeds much too fast for a road of this type... Use the signed main access road!

By: Robert G. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 26, 2008

First off, do not us Google/Mapquest maps, as it gives the wrong way.  Trust me, do the following:  From Sperryville go South on 522 a short distance, and turn right on 231 (Ft.Valley Road). Go approx 8 miles and take a right on 707, Sharp Rock Road.  This goes toward the winery.  It's gravel in parts & goes over a small bridge.  After the bridge, turn right (Nethers Road/707/600) and follow to the Old Rag entrance.  We wasted an HOUR w/ our other directions, and the rangers told us they were aware and were trying to get Google to update the map.  We encountered numerous others doing the same thing as we don't get lost, use the above directions.  Other than that, the day was gorgeous and Old Rag came through wonderfully on our first visit out this way.  It was a bit wet in spots, and crowded near the top of the rock scramble (where we waited for 45 minutes)....but other than that, great views and some good excericse! With the late start, delays and lower lot parking (an added mile each way to walk), we still got around in about 5 hours. Our Google driving map directions have been updated to correct for the error in Google's directions software.

By: Kat Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 19, 2008
We hiked Old Rag yesterday for the first time.  It was amazing.  60 degrees and clear blue sky!!  The rock scrambles were a lot of fun and we got some beautiful pictures.  Ate our lunch at the summit and bumped into people we knew!  So we had some company down the hill.  We are active runners and the whole trail took us 4:15 (from the overflow parking lot).  We are still pretty sore this morning!!  There were a lot of people but we got to the trail head relatively early (9am) so there were people around but it wasn't too crowded.  When we got back to the lot after the hike, it was FULL - so go early for the least foot traffic.  Thanks so much for this site - it's very helpful!  Can't wait for the next adventure!

By: Bob Look Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am on the mountain volunteering for the Old Rag Mountain Steward and PATC Trail Patrol organizations. October is the peak hiking season for this favorite hike. We can see between 800-1,200 hikers on a good weather October weekend day. During the peak traffic time the most difficult spot on the rock scramble (which must be done one person at a time) can have a wait-in-line time of over 45 minutes. The NPS parking lots can fill to capacity with locals sometimes providing parking on their land for a fee (estimate $10). When available the parking  in the 250 space NPS lot is free. Anytime you enter Shenandoah National Park there is an entry fee and Old Rag is no exception. If you have one of the appropriate annual passes or have paid for entry to Shenadoah National Park in the last six days you are covered.   In October the individual entry fee is $8 per person.  There are a lot of nuances to the entrance fees which can be found at

Despite the numbers of hikers the hike is still well worth doing because (except for the choke points) the mountain easily absorbs large numbers of hikers, the rock scramble provides a fun and rewarding adventure and there are numerous wonderful top-of-the-world views.

You can avoid the crowds by time-shifting to very early in the morning,  going on a weekday when it is almost empty,  hiking it in bad weather, or hiking it during a less popular month. With darkness coming earlier each day it is best to bring a light or two(unlike suburban streets darkness can sometimes mean not even being able to see your hands or feet). There are no pets allowed on the Old Rag Ridge trail or above the Old Rag Shelter on the Saddle Trail. Many would discourage bringing very young children but If you are going to bring young children, it is best to have at least two adults so one can be at the bottom and one at the top of the 6-10 foot vertical sections where a young child may need spotting, encouragement, or to be actually handed up or down.

Fun Facts: Old Rag Granite was formed around a billion years ago and is some of the oldest rock in the park.

When the park was formed there were many homesteads dotting the flanks of the Weakley Hollow side of Old Rag Mountain. Near the intersection of the Old Rag and Weakley Hollow fire roads there used to be a Post Office, School, General Stores, and churches.

By: gohikego Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 10, 2008
This is one of our favorite hikes in VA.  I have been hiking this this trail off and on over the past 28 years.  And it is still the best.  However, the rocks have become very slick on the rock scramble  part of the trail.  Making it very hard to get a good foot hold.    That being said,  its still wonderful.  This is a great hike for family's.  Our 7 year old daughter hiked it with us this past Friday and  this is her third trip up Old Rag.   It did take us 6.5 hours however. And, we hiked the trail this past Aug ( the little one was only 6 yrs old then).   And then there was the first time we hiked her up the mountain when she was only 2-almost 3 years old- (now that was hard work,  not sure what we were thinking!!!!)   However, our other girls helped us get her over the rock scrambles.  It was a family effort.   Don't pass up this hike.  But, a word to the wise- try to hike it on a weekday.  On the weekends it's packed. You will have to wait in long lines to get up some of the hard to climb rock scrambles. Yes, there are traffic jams on Old Rag.   I've seen folks take for ever to over come their fears to move up the rocks.  And some are just too out of shape to pull themselfs up  and over the rocks.  SO, hike on the week days if you can.  Enjoy.

By: treshojas Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 4, 2008
I haven't hiked Old Rag since last year and I am wondering if anyone has thoughts on how wet is too wet for this hike. I don't think I would hike it in the rain. But even though they're calling for clear skies on this Sunday, it'll have been raining almost a straight week by the time the weather clears to hike. I am wondering if the trail would still be too wet/ slippery/ muddy. I can't recall the terrain exactly enough to make the call.

Thanks for suggestions...

By: reed Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wonderful!! I did it with my Fiancee and we are not hikers. We are in pretty good shape and we actually made the entire loop in less than 4 hours and we stopped to take pictures and to eat some sandwiches at the summit. The rock scramble was interesting but nothing really tough, I did have to help her out with a push or pull up in spots. I took a hydration pack with 2 liters and she took one with 1 liter and we both had plenty of water left at the end.

The views are awesome and it is a great alternative way to get in a good day of exercise and to enjoy the outdoors.

By: Ms. 45 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 23, 2008

I've wanted to hike Old Rag for a long time (lived in DC for 20 years and never done it) and declared that it's how I would celebrate my 45th birthday.  My husband and I are of moderate fitness level (mostly weekend warriors) and really enjoyed the hike.  The scrambles were fun (there were two challenging sections but fellow hikers were very patient as we plotted our course).   We saw a bear in the cornfield as we were parking and a cub ran past us on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 18, 2008

This is the first time I have hiked this mountain in over 15 years. But the difference this time is: I have one less foot and I took my 8 year old daughter for her first mountain hiking experience. All of the spectacular views I can remember as a child I now have with my daughter. Another great part of this story is that my dad also climbed with us at 73 years old. So, anyone scared of this mountain should not be because if a senior, a crippled dude and an 8 year old girl can do this hike, anyone can  do it. It is challenging, especially with one leg, but I did it and plan on taking my other daughter next summer.

The One Legged Guy

Check out the One Legged Guy on top of Old Rag Mountain

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Absolutely awesome.  One of the best father-son outings I've had with my 11 year old.  Gorgeous views. Saw some deer on the ascent and a black bear approx a mile from the end on Weakley Hollow FR.  Can't wait to do it again (just have to wait for the blisters to heal!!)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 31, 2008

I hiked this trail last summer. For the one person who asked about dogs... I brought my medium sized dog (lab/pointer mix) and he did better than i did! I even did the trail backwards so i had to go down the rock scramble, and he was fine. I suggest taking a dog for wonderful exercise on this trail!

Like i said, i went up it backwards so it was definitley exhausting going up and down the mountian. The one great thing is, if you go in that direction, at the top is a bunch of other trials. That way, you can chose which direction you want to continue without stopping on the trail. It is one of my favorite hikes! I can't wait to do it again..

By: Amy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 26, 2008
A friend and I played hooky from work and started up around 3:00 on a Friday.  We were able to park at the top lot with no problem, a bonus from the usual weekend hikes we do.  It was probably in the mid 80s temperature-wise when we started, and we kept a pretty fast pace up to the scramble, so we were pretty drenched.  The last time we hiked this we had some snow, making the rocks slippery, and it was much easier to get over some of the tougher parts of the scramble  We were treated to some beautiful vistas at the top, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your level of adventure) we did not run into the bears that other hikers seem to have seen lately.  It took us an hour to get to the scramble, and then another 40 minutes to summit, so we were going at a pretty fast clip.  We passed a couple of other hikers on the way up, but coming out on a weekday was definitely better than the usual weekend traffic.  So, if you can take the day off to do this amazing and challenging hike, do it!

By: Anonymous Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 18, 2008
A great hike, that offers rock scrambles for a family hike that are second to none.  Great scenic vistas on the rock scrambles and summit.  Also there are many great places to eat lunch while feeling a nice cool breeze and admiring the views.  Saw two different sow black bears each with 2 cubs today. The first set was less than a quarter mile from the start of the rock scramble, and the second set was approximately a quarter mile from the summit.  Overall a great hike for almost all ages.

By: ricky Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 5, 2008
i hicked this with a couple of my buds the other saturday.. it was all cool and nice. saw a bear.. a couple of baby bears... and a dog.. we tried to help out the bear with some extra food...they looked pretty hungry.. got some great pictures til she snorted and stomped the ground... probably a bad idea... as we got to what we thot was the top (turns out it wasent) we met some dog.. black an white AND full OF TICKS!... we figgered it had to be starving.. how the heck did a dog git up there? Well we stopped 'cause we were tired of carrying a cooler of beer up there... just decided to lighten our load... and theat dog just seemed to get hungrier and hungrier.. so whatdya know.. first thing bobby started chucking baloney and cheese sandwich chunks for him.. that dog was digging it! he was chowing down .. well one thing led to another and soon we wer flinging baloney and cheese like frisbies.. that dog gittin more and more excited.. well... oops... one went flying right off the top of that open space.. and wouldn't you know it.. without skipping a beeat, that dog took a flying leep right off after that sanwitch... oops... we're sorry.  we looked for him, but had no luck... so we figgered he must of finally found his way off the top of that mountain,, and hopefully back home..
I don't think he got hurt.. he landed in a lot of shrubs and trees and stuff.

all in all a really good hick..

By: Ghost of D. Laurence Rogers Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 5, 2008

I am mighty glad  you posted your review.   I was bushwacking up on Old Rag catching  some new rattlers for the next day's Sunday service and off in the distance I caught sight of Jr., a neighborhood dog flying hundreds of feet through the air like Rin Tin Tin or  Lassie with something in his mouth.   I could not see him land but it did sound like it was in a bunch of brush.  I knew Jr sometimes got bored and played  tag with moma bear but I did not think he would try Parkour.   So your posting splained a lot.   Like you, I could not find him so he must have landed okay and just takin off for home.     Of course I have not seen him doing walk-about lately so I hope he is okay.

By the way this is truly one of the best hikes ever.   You get to have fun on a granite playground.  Lots of great views.   Usually lots of intersesting; wildlife, history, geology, weather and fellow hikers/climbers.  If  you happen to see the legendary dog Jr. it is just icing on the cake.   

By: Terri Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 28, 2008
The lost dog isn't really a lost dog.  His name is Jr. and he lives at the bottom of the mountain.  We spoke to the owners who said he tends to follow hikers up the trail sometimes.  He always finds his way back home.  They said unless he's injured, don't worry, he'll find his way back. 

By: Ronnen Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 25, 2008
One of my best hikes ever.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Took advantage of cooler weather and fitted in between showers a beautiful and successful hike for an old codger aged 73. Started up the fire road about 5pm and hiked through until 1:30am. Takes longer in the dark when a full moon does not cooperate.
I have a great picture of the face of Old Rag, taken after leaf fall on a clear late afternoon. Unusual and beautiful shot I would be willing to share. I can e-mail it to you.

By: Mark D. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 15, 2008

Great hike on Fathers' day.  Two important notes:  1) there is lost dog hiding in the rocks near the first steep downward scrabble.  He's a black and while border collie and someone had left some water for him but I think he didn't have a owner there on the hike; and 2) 15 years of hiking with the knowledge that this is rattlesnake country but the first time I've ever run into one.  To expand on the 2nd point, we were at Summit Crags and bouldering near the trail when I steped towards a boulder and heard a distinct quick rattle.  I stepped back and saw I was within one foot of a coiled and ready to strike rattlesnake.  I stepped back about four feet and it finally relaxed and slithered away under a deeper boulder crack.  When it stretched out, it was about 4 feet long and very thick.  Thank the TG's for not having gotten any closer or worse.  But the hike was great.  Bouldering at Summit Crags was good but the granite is very sharp.  Enjoy and be safe! 

By: Shutter Nerd Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 7, 2008

Awesome hike!! No need to think about whether to hike this wonderful trail or not. I've hiked this trail numerous times, and it has not gotten old..

It was about 100 degrees out when my friend and I hiked it. Whether it's 100 degrees or not, make sure you bring enough water, wear sunscreen (you really need it), and have lots of fun! Definetely one of the best hikes in Shenandoah, if not the best..

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 31, 2008
This was my fourth time doing Old Rag and the bouldering part is still as exciting as ever. We got there pretty late - around noon - and decided to go ahead and drive past the ranger stand to the upper parking lot right at the mouth of the trail. We lucked out and found the sole available spot. The forecast predicted thunderstorms at 3 p.m. and we were hoping this would mean a slightly less overcrowded hike than usual. Sadly, that wasn't the case. Still, we managed to overtake most of the giant groups with children on our hike up the mountain, and were more or less undisturbed for the scrambling portions at the top. By the time we got to the last rock overlook - the one that leads to the hike back down - we saw giant dark clouds speeding towards us. We had some lunch and headed off the mountain. We were safely on the yellow trail by the time the rain hit. While it was intense and unpleasant, it didnt last longer than 10 minutes and we dried off quickly in the sun. No bear or rattle snake sightings this time. Although we did almost step on a giant but harmless black snake. All in all, fun, as usual.

By: Matthew Amon Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2008

Old Rag Mountain is a great hike.  I started at about 10:30AM and ended around 4:30PM.  My group and I could have made the circuit more quickly but we stopped at the top for a leisurely lunch/rest.  The hike up to the rock scramble is steep but manageable.  The scene is all forest with some mountain streams (ice cold) and the occassional boulder.  My favorite part of the hike was the rock scramble to the top.  It was both fun and challenging to squeeze through some of the narrow gaps and claw up the steep boulders.  The scramble is difficult but entirely 'do-able' for anyone under 300lbs and not carrying children on one's back. 

Recommendations:  1. Pack more water than you think you will need.

2.  Wear sunscreen.

3.  Wear sturdy shoes with good grips.

4.  Only hike the mountain on "dry" days.  If it's raining, even a little, forget it.  Go check out a vineyard.

5.  Plan for at least 5 hours on the mountain.

6.  Don't fret about the slow tourists at the beginning.  The climb thins out the weak.

By: Susan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 24, 2008
Great hike on a beautiful day.  We started early which I would recommend so you don't have to wait at slot canyons.  Great views and good workout.  Will do it again

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 24, 2008
Perfect weather made for a perfect hike. Left the lower parking lot around 10 am, after heading up that way from Virginia Beach around 5. Slightly congested trail early on but it seemed most people were more for a leisurely pace heading up the switchbacks, so it thinned out as we neared the northern peak. Absolutely stunning views, and they just kept getting better & better as the elevation increased. The rock scramble was probably the most entertainment I've had while hiking in a long time. Not since my youth growing up in Ely, MN have I enjoyed myself in the outdoors as much as I did on this mountain. Overall, we made the hike in 5 hours, due to some congestion going through the tight spaces before the scramble, and I alone went through 4 liters of water.

If someone is hiking for the appeal of seeing wildlife, this is probably not the best place, as the entire hike yielded only a few Vultures (although it is neat to watch birds soaring, below you), some Ravens, and one Eastern Towhee. I don't even remember seeing a single squirrel to be honest. This is probably the only negative I can come up with though, as it definitely was a fantastic circuit! One I'd recommend, and have already started, to anyone who enjoys & appreciates the natural beauty of the outdoors!

Some of the better photos from my trip:    Old Rag Mountain Photos

By: Meredith Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 20, 2008
My husband and I have hiked this trail numerous times and love it! BE AWARE THOUGH, our second time doing this hike, night fell before we made it down all the way. We missed the 'exit' sign at the bottom of the trail and spent all night wandering around lost. There was no moon that night and we had no light. (not to mention food, water, or cell reception) It was a scary miserable (cold!) night traversing the fire roads back and forth until the sun came up and we found our car. This was in September when the days were shorter, but still-- be prepared! :)

By: James from NJ Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Hiked it on a Wednesday during mid-May. Got to the parking lot at 7:am with several spots left. 2 days earlier it snowed up there...  Very few other people up there that day. This was the most challenging (for me) hike I had ever done, but it was also the most fun. I would recommend it to anyone who is in reasonablly good shape, but not too overweight, but it is not for very small children, or for those with acrophobia. Tough, slow  going on the boulder scrambles, but what a blast! I had'nt climbed like that since I was a young boy (I am mid-50-ish) ..  Keep a sharp lookout for the blue markers painted on the rocks, some are easy to miss. Great views from the top and from several other spots. Allow at least 5 hours, taking the fire road back to the lot. At the end of the day, I felt like I had really accomplished something. It felt really great to soak in a bathtub of hot water afterward. I will definitely go back ASAP.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 2, 2008

This was an incredible trail becoming very challenging but also very fun. The temperature on Friday was 80 degrees and sunny. The first part of the ascent was normal trail with some incredible boulders along the way, but was tiring due to the constant uphill climb. After reaching the rock scramble the hike became an adrenaline rush. There are some great view areas  to stop for break and a bite to eat. The rock scramble became challenging but everyone in our party including our wives who have hardly ever hiked handled it well.  Reaching the summit was incredible and a view I will never forget. As we were sitting on the top taking a break two dogs appeared. We thought they were lost and wondered how they got to the top of the mountain but I read their tags and they were from a home near the Old Rag parking lot. They must come up the trail counterclockwise and take advantage of the hikers food who think they are lost. I was one to give some snacks. This was an amazing trip and one I will never forget. I highly recommend this adventure.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hiked Old Rag twice in one week.  Sunday, April 6 nine of us started @ 6:30am in the rain and it pretty much rained the entire time.  We were a bit concerned about scrambling the rock but there was not a problem.  I drank 9 oz of water.

Friday, April 11 four of us hiked.  The weather was much warmer and there was no wind.  It didn't occur to me to bring sunscreen a big mistake; burned pretty bad.  Had 45oz of water and ran out @ the top.

Both times we made the loup in 4 hours. It was more difficult climbing as I have asthma and need to stop & open up my lungs, but once on the rocks and then returning it was not a problem.

Stop in Sperryville afterwards.  Both Thorton River Grill and Ray's have fantastic food.  Check their website for hours so you aren't disappointed.

Both hikes were thru

By: Stephanie and Jonathan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 5, 2008
This hike was great! I didn't know how difficult the rocks at the top were, and it was a challenging surprise! My boyfriend and I had an amazing time on this hike, especially since it was so beautiful. One thing is that no dogs are allowed, I didn't remember reading that on this site. The trip up was pretty packed with people, but it was nice because a lot of them had done the hike before and they were able to guide us through some tough spots. We took the back trail down and that had no people on it. All around it was a great day!

By: Michelle, Brian, Isaac Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 3, 2008
Spring break, beautiful, 70+ day. Got to the upper parking lot around 11am and there were still a few parking spaces left. Ascended quickly, becoming slightly fatigued as the elevation and grade rose. Ground was quite muddy/sloppy in a few places, including a few rare spots of ice sheet that had not yet melted. No bears. There were a few tough spots on the rock scramble, including tight squeezes and large gaps.

Had long underwear under mesh pants, and tank top under long-sleeved shirt. All of the above plus a knit hat was necessary at the summit where the wind was going full force. Otherwise the long underwear and tank top were fine for the rest of the sweaty hike.

Climbed to the top in about 3.5 hours including breaks (maybe about 2.5 hours of traveling time), then took another 1.5 to come down, arriving at the parking lot by 4pm.

I did the hike in trailwalking shoes and my toes felt a little tender from all the downhill. Relatively good grip on the uphill/rock scramble except for a few slippery spots where I had to get a little help from my two hiking buddies (i'm 5'4" and my limbs were just a little short...).

This is a strenuous but not difficult trail. If you go slowly (as we did not) it should not be particularly difficult if you are in a group.

By: Larry Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 2, 2008

After looking at the mountain for 20+ years, I finally decided to give it a try. On our first attempt about three weeks ago, we were turned around because the trail was impassable, to us, because of ice. We had made it to within about 1/2 mile of the top. Starting in Berry Hollow, we spent a lot of time looking for, and finding, the history of those that used to live there. With the temp around 20, mud was no problem. Once we made it to the top, we fully understood what Old Rag was all about. The amazing rock formations and spetacular views mean we will return. Calm winds allowed for the photos I had hoped for. Being able to see the area we lived at was pretty neat. Coming down, we saw something I had never read, or heard, anyone talk about. We were able to locate two of the falls in White Oak Canyon. It had also warmed up to the point that there were some pretty slick muddy spots on the trail.

By: Chris & Megan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 24, 2008

Megan's 3rd time and first for Chris.  Even on a chilly February day, we arrived too late at 9:30 to find a spot in the upper parking lot.  It was a beautiful clear day and warmed up to about 45 degrees.  As a result, there was still a fair amount of ice in the shadows of the rocks, which made for some tricky, slippery scrambling.  The fire road on the backside of the loop, however, found enough warmth to melt into a muddy mess.  We did have the privilege of meeting a neighborhood dog from the bottom of the mountain who climbed up most of the front side and was enjoying the sun on a rock near the top.  By the time we made our way around the loop, he was back at the bottom and harassing the horses in the field next to the lower lot.  We highly recommend boots and gloves for the rock scramble.  This is a fantastic hike, and we had a great time! 

By: G. Jordan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 20, 2008
We went during one of the windiest and coldest time of the year which made it difficult to tackle.  I think the snow made it much more challenging from both directions.   The rock scramble was extremely fun!  We enjoyed this hike so much, that we did it twice that month before all of the snow melted.  We highly recommend this hike during the the winter.

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 4, 2008

Just did this hike for the first time. Fantastic, I didn't realize that VA had this kind of hike. It was really nice to get out of the trees, it felt almost like hiking in Maine. Got on the trail at about 9:30, and there were only a couple of other cars in the upper lot (By the time we were back down, it was full). We saw a grand total of 5 other hikers the entire day, and I think that winter is definitely the time to do this trip. An added bonus is that without the leaves on the trees, you get more views from lower on the mountain. The cold wasn't really an issue except when we stopped for lunch on the summit and the wind caught you standing still.

Gloves are a must in the cold, even if you have tough hands. I found that handling the rocks while climbing chilled my otherwise warm glove-less hands very quickly and I had to put them back on.

I will jump on the boot bandwagon - wear them. I think you would be safe in sneakers if you have good ankles, but you feet will be hugely sore because the soles aren't stiff enough.

My final thought is that the climb to and from the fire road is comparatively gentle. If you are concerned about the rockscramble, you can get to the peak without too much difficulty by this route.

By: Mike Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 17, 2007
I couldn't have said it better than the previous post by John. I am from Maine and I was thinking the same thing as I was hiking. I didn't realize that there were such great hikes down here. It felt like the White Mountains and it was great to hike it in the winter. I heard it gets very busy in the summer and can see how it wouldn't be as much fun that way. One of my favorites!

By: Mac Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 1, 2007
First Time for our family of four (ages 39,36,13 &10).  39 degrees at start at 0900 -- hiked up the ridge trail.  Awesome.  Light traffic on the trail and got up before traffic started heading down.  Hike to summit took  2:10.  Leaves covered the trail making rock/root ID and footing tricky.  Water was freezing above 2500 and puddles were frozen.  Scramble was awesome.  Wear gloves that grip, hiking boots, not sneakers and pants that you don't mind sliding down granite on.  Came down via the saddle trail to the logging road & back to the parking lot in 1:15 with little trouble or traffic.  Picked up some garbage along the way.  Pls do the same as some are inconsiderate. Looking forward to coming back again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 30, 2007
I decided to do this hike on my 50th birthday.  This was my third hike of Old Rag.   First time when trees were bare.  I took a friend along--his first hike.  We are both in very good shape, the weather was cold, clear, and perfect.   We did the circuit  starting from the upper parking lot in 4 hours (including two 10 minute stops along the peaks to drink in the magnificent views on both sides of the ridgeline).   We just departed the summit heading down, thinking the day could not get any better, when we spotted a big black bear (a male, appx 300 lbs,and he seemed very mature) just off the trail about 5 yards in the woods, 25 feet away from us.  We both deliberately froze, and waited to see what the bear would do.  The bear came out and on to the trail, still about 25 feet away and remained stationary.  He turned towards us and looked at us.  Using my best ventriloquism, I said, "ok, I wonder what he'll do next?  If he comes at us we can't run, we can't climb a tree, and we can't play possum--all no go's when confronted by a black bear, and I'm not going back to the parking lot the way we came.  The only way back was walking past the bear."   The bear stood his ground for a few minutes--then my hiking buddy, an experienced Alaska guy, instructed that we should raise our arms in unison, making us look bigger, and begin shouting.  We did this, and the bear gave us a long stare, and then slowly mosied down the trail, stopping once, to look back at us.  We shouted again and then he dashed into the woods--not to be seen again.   It was an amazing experience to be up close and personal with a large beautiful creature, and somewhat high adventure, not knowing if we'd be his lunch.   Needless to say, I'll remember my 50th!  

By: Rambo Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 24, 2007
This was a wonderful hike. My friend and I ended up completing the loop in just over 3 1/2 hours. We started early and only ran into a few others making the loop in the oposite direction. This hike is a must do, and I will definately be doing it again. The next time though I will probably end up climbing the front half and then climbing down the front as well, because the last couple of miles, the loop is just an old fire road which made it kind of boring. I would suggest that you bring a good pair of gloves due to having to climb so many rocks and boulders. This trail gets an "A" on my list of favorites.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 24, 2007
A wonderful day was had and we were tired at the end. It took us eight hours at a liesurely pace with many breaks to sit and enjoy the pretty crisp day. My freind with her two children ( 7 and 12 ) were challenged and enjoyed their first hike on Old Rag. I will be back in the spring in better shape to enjoy it again and maybe there will not be so many passing us on the trail. I had remembered it to be easier the last time.

By: Doug Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 17, 2007

What a great experience.  This was my 3rd time.  I was concerned the 44 degree weather would be an issue, but since it is a rigorous hike we were very comfortable.  A little less wind would have been better.  Unlike my other 2 hikes we saw  NO ONE or heard NO ONE  the entire hike.  We had solitude.  It was a beautiful day.  The color of the leaves were incredible since fall held on so long.  We did see some ice and snow on the ground.  I'm 49, and although challenging, it was not overwhelming.  Unlike any other East coast hike I've experienced.  Regardless of the temp gloves are helpful.

By: BHN Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 17, 2007
The colors were spectacular and the climb was great. Our group of 5 boyscouts and 3 leaders took 6 hours to hike the loop from the lower parking lot, including about 1/2 hour lunch break at the summit, plus at least another 1/2 hour "caught in traffic" in a couple of the tight spots going up. All in all a great climb! I hadn't been on the mountain in about 7 years, and I'm determined not to let as much time pass in the future between hikes. I was a little surprised at how crowded it was. When we got to the lower lot at about 8:30 am it had about 20 cars (we checked the upper lot; it was full). By the time we got back, the entire lower lot seemed to be full, including one large bus. Still well worth it.

By: Amy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 10, 2007

I hiked this with a friend after a rainy Friday.  I was concerned that the rocks might be slick, and this was compounded by the sign at the lower parking lot that the Ranger did not recommend summitting that day due to snow and ice at the top.  But, we went for it anyway, and it was still a great hike -- it wasn't too slick .  We summitted in about 2 hours, and it was a bit cold and windy at the top, but still magnificent.  I would not recommend hiking on a day like that with any shoe other than hiking sneakers/boots, though.  We had to trust our shoes a lot to get up some of the more slippery slopes.

By: Jim Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 3, 2007
What an amazing hike!  At times it felt like I was in line at a amusment park.  In the end though any problems you might have will soon be gone when you get to the summit.  What a spectacular view. 

By: Eric Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 3, 2007
I've hiked this mountain a few times and it is my favorite.  I brought my oldest son on this trip and it was a real pleasure to share such a wonderful place with him.  I have never been to the mountain when there was such a huge crowd.  At one point, we had to wait in line for 45 minutes, but besides that, it was a beautiful day.

By: Maxine Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 28, 2007
What an awesome day!  It was my 43rd birthday and last time I did this hike I was 25 and way out of shape.  I remembered huffing and puffing all the way up, and thinking back, we only got to the first rock ledge.  So, in better shape, and with three adventurous kids (13, 11 and 9), I decided I wanted to try again.  Well, what a difference stopping smoking and working out makes.  I barely broke a sweat until we started up the rocks.  Afraid of heights and nervous for the kids, we overcame all and had a fantastic day.  A bit sore today, given that we missed the part about pulling ourselves up by our hands and feet (hadn't found this site).  Also, the rocks are definitely slick.  It was humbling to be sliding along a rock on my butt as a reasonably elderly Chinese couple fairly skipped by us - we caught up with them later as they were sipping hot tea out of a thermos - talk about prepared.  It was a clear day and we could see for MILES.  This is not for the faint of heart, but there was a big mix of people there, from Sunday hikers like us to serious runners, who appeared to be running with no fear of twisted ankles or broken limbs - ah, youth!

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 18, 2007
This was my second time hiking Old Rag and I enjoyed it much more the second time around.  The weather was nice, although unseasonably warm for late October.   The directions provided by the search engine linked to the Hiking Upward Old Rag page were not very helpful and we arrived at noon after planning to get there around 10 A.M..  We had just missed getting the last spot in the parking lot nearest to the trailhead, so I advise getting there as early as possible.  The views are amazing, the hike itself involves a good degree of physical exertion and it is necessary to climb through very steep and nearly vertical passages through the rocks.  We came across a black bear on the way down that did not seem interested in moving so we decided to turn around and go back the way we came. On our way back down we came across a large black snake in the middle of the path.  It curled into a defensive posture, but was kind enough to allow us to take some good pictures of it up close, as I think it was far too scared to pose any real threat so long as we kept a reasonable distance.  All in all the hike is a can't miss and I recommend it completely.

By: Jen, Erin and Todd Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 14, 2007
I am visiting my friends from the altitude-challenged state of Florida and I loved this hike! We got going about 10am from the lower parking area and were hiking for about 5.5 hours. It was a perfect autumn day with sunny skies and very light wind at the top. We didn't see any bears although Erin and Todd reported a very close encounter from a previous hike. The rocks were a bit challenging and it is obviously a popular hike but the views were incredible. Completing this hike is rewarding and soul-enriching!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 11, 2007
Today was a very windy day to climb the mountain, we got a late start around 3:00.  We made the mistake of parking in the lower lot, with out checking if the upper lot had any room(it did).  We then were worried about getting to the summit in time so we really had a quick pace up the mountain.  My daughter 10 yrs. old really enjoyed the hike and kept telling us just a little bit more.  We called her our motivational sherpa.  Well, it seemed like we were never going to get to the top to see the view and after an hour and 40 mins. we made it to the first rock scramble.  We took some pictures and rested alittle, and the clouds were moving in and it looked like rain.  We were worried about it getting dark so we headed back down.  It was alittle chilly on the way down.  We didn't see any wildlife.  We finally saw a squirrel on the road near the trailhead.  I would recommend this hike.  It is well worth it getting to the top.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Old Rag is simply one of the best hikes in VA. As many of the previous reviewers have mentioned, the panorama of the SNP is sublime, the scrambles are challenging, and the crowds can be large. With around 10 hikes under my belt, here are a some suggestions for a more enjoyable day:

1)If you have to go during the weekend, go on Sunday and start after lunch. I've never seen more than 4 or 5 people at the top at any given time, and sometimes none at all (this may be offensive to some hikers' early-to-rise trail ethic...).   Also, the heat isn't as oppressive and the bugs are less omnipresent in the late afternoon.

2) Hike the opposite way. You'll never be waiting in line at the scrambles...

3) Park @ Berry Hollow on the opposite side of the mountain. Far fewer people set off from this destination and you complete the fire road at the begining, not at the end of your hike.

By: Robert Meyers Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Tough going, harder than I remembered from two years earlier. Early rain kept the temperatures cool but it cleared enough to dry the stone. Wonderful twists turns tunnels and cracks. A little bit of color in the trees but mostly a sea of green. The forest along the fire road has really suffered from the drought and the stream is barely running. Copperhead on the Saddle Trail. Otherwise only squirrels, chipmunks, buzzards and woolybears. No bugs except around the Old Rag shelter.

By: D Johnson Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Great hike, wore me out, and I am fairly in shape.  Took 3.5 hours, and we kept a steady pace, not too fast for the older members of our group.  The best part was seeing a black bear cub about 10-15 below us on the trail near the top.  Views were also fantastic of both sides of the mountain, and rocks were fun to climb and jump across.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 17, 2007
Did this hike today and loved it.  I am originally from New England and have done tons of hiking there and the terrain is certainly different down here.  This is the first hike that I've done here that really ranks up with some of the major challenges that are in northern NH and Maine.  The rock scramble was definitely a challenge (espicially for someone 5 foot 8) but it was well worth it for the views.  And the 4.5 mile gradual downhill was a great cool-down after expending quite a bit of effort on the way up.  I would like to see a more detailed description of the scramble in print somewhere, just to give the hiker an idea of what they are getting into.  All in all, a great day.

By: Andy Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 16, 2007
Very good hike.  I met the ranger who didn't know how to work the credit card machine as well.  The bugs were not bad at all.  The temp was between 60-65 i would say.  I hiked the loop coming down the fire roads on the back side in about 6 hrs.  The rock scramble definitely had a couple difficult spots.  Hiking boots would be a help but not necessary. Hope this helps.

By: Bob Loblaw Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 27, 2007
First time hiker and I loved it.  I would've given it a 5star rating if the dumb park ranger in the parking lot knew how to use the credit card machine.  Bugs aren't bad as long as you have bug spray.  I used my hiking boots and the grip on the rocks was better than my gf's who used her old running shoes.  Just use some fairly new athletic shoes with a good sole.

By: DC Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 25, 2007
Do not hike Old Rag in August - the bugs were terrible, repeat, terrible! These biting flies were swarming all over everyone, even at the top. I felt like an animal carcass there were so many bugs. I came back covered in bites. I wouldn't hike this area for six weeks, until the bugs have subsided.

An additional tip: Wear sneakers not hiking boots; they make it easier to grip on the rock scramble.

By: clind Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 6, 2007

Outstanding hike!  I parked in betweed the lower and upper lots, not realizing that I could have parked closer.  The hike still only took about 3:10.  I packed 74 oz water/gatorade, food and first aid in the fanny pack and took off.  The first part of the hike is a gradual ascent to towards the rock scramble.  Not very steep, certainly not as steep as Little Devil Stairs or even Whiteoak Canyon.  Ah, but the scramble - great fun and excellent views!  Some of the areas of the rock scramble required some creativity, but none were very precarious.  I'm not much of a climber, but I am 6'5", so the long legs probably heiped.  Spent about 25 minutes up at the top, going from boulder to boulder, then headed back down.  Got down to the car in a little over an hour, but did run some of the fire road, as it is an easy trail.  Upper parking lot was full when I passed it at about 11 a.m. and people were walking up from the overflow.

By: Ian07 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 1, 2007
Great hike - the rock scramble was challenging at times (there was one rock I was not sure I could make it up without the help of a friend) but overall it was not too bad.

By: Max Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 27, 2007
This was a lot of fun! no doubt, it is difficult, but the views on the summit are completely worth it. I think that the most difficult portion of the hike is between the trailhead and the beginning of the rock scramble. the rock scramble was my favorite part by far.  the only reason I didn't give this 5 stars is that the return hike was a bit boring, especially the 3 mile flat road at the end.  my legs were about to fall off and it seemed like that i would never get back.

By: Tim Bo Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 24, 2007

This was my first hike; recommended to me by a friend that did it last summer.  I am in fairly moderate shape and did not have any major issues with Old Rag.  I am 6'2" so the rock scramble (my favorite part) was a little easier for me.  It was a great hike with amazing viewpoints.  Overall, for it being my first hike and seeing the "difficult" reviews; I would have to say that it was easier than I expected.  I completed the trip in 4 hours with a half hour for lunch and several 5-10 minute stops on the way up.

Be sure to check out the stream by the 10 car parking lot; it's another nice photo op.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 10, 2007

This is the best trail!!!  I have done this trail several times since 1998.  I found going up the fire trail first, then scrambling down the rocks instead of up is much more enjoyable.  My recommendations are as follows:  Ensure you have a full camel back for drinking, and extra water in your vehicle.  Carry a pair of sturdy, velcro straped sandals that have the toe open.  A lot of people's tops of their toes start to hurt from the constant going down the mountain.   Energy bars or food that will keep. Weight lifting gloves for the scrambling on the rocks.  A sturdy walking stick that also serves to help people up or down tough spots.  A good rag to wipe sweat off.  I am not a bear expert, but have seen a bear more than once.  One was pacing us.  We just talked really loud.  That seemed to work.

You have had a great work out by the end of the day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 28, 2007
What an awesome hike!  I'm not a hiker, and not in good shape, but am very determined.  I wasn't anticipating the degree of difficulty at all.  Just getting to the rock scramble is a lot of work.  And once you're there and running out of energy, those boulders are tough!  It helps to be tall to get up and over some of the rocks.  I needed help on one, and don't like heights or crevices so my buddy had to find an alternate route for me on one of the rocks.  I definitely wasn't ready for this incredible hike, but managed to get through it.  It was awesome!

By: Still gittin along Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2007

Super hike!  Warm humid day, that's OK, I needed to sweat.   I had been worried that the trail would be too crowded on Mem Day weekend, but not a problem.  There were only a few times of 1-2 minute waits at certain chokepoints.  Our group went at a moderate pace on this warm day.  We had a leisurely lunch, at least 45 min., and totaled, i think, 5.5 hours roundtrip (from lower parking area).

There was a dog (beagle) by himself on the rocks, past that first drop-in slot.  What should we have done?  Rangers down below were gone by the time we got back to parking area.

By: Northeast hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 5, 2007
Conditions: 55 degrees at the trailhead at approx. 9:30AM.  Overcast.  Sprinkling on the descent, steady rain around 1:45PM, on return to lower lot. I've hiked Old Rag using the the loop described here 3 times in the last 7 years, and the last time (in 2005) and today, I noticed significant wear on the rocks on the scrambles, which makes it tougher to find good hand or foot holds.  It's almost as though the rocks have become "oiled," too, from the hands of hikers, which makes gripping challengng.  I would not recommend ascending via the route described here if it is raining, despite another reviewer's comments that she had.  The rocks are slick even without the rain, and unless you are dressed for the weather, you're likely to become uncomfortable and chilled if you have a long wait to ascend.  Even with the wait, we summited in approx. 2.25 hours (from the upper parking lot).  Return to the upper lot via fire road was about 1.75 hours.

By: Jerry W Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 22, 2007
Just returned from the Old Rag hike.  What a blast.  It was a beautfully clear day.  Temperatures in the 70s.  What a workout!  Unlike most people, I wasn't taking it easy.  I wanted to get to the top as fast as I could.  It still took just under two hours from the lower parking lot.  The entire hike was just under 4 hours.  It says 8 miles here on Hiking Upward but I hiked it today with my ForeRunner 305 and that said 9 miles from the lower parking lot to the summit and back down the back side via the fire road.  And it felt like 9 miles!  This is my 3rd time and the rock scramble is still a challenge.  But it's also the best part of the hike!  I had 48 oz of gatorade.  Not enough!   I killed another 32 oz Coke later and still another 32 oz of water and now I finally feel hydrated again.  This is easily one of my favorite hikes.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2007
AWESOME!!! This was my first hike in a few years and I had never been to Old Rag. It was so amazing! We did the full loop along the Ridge Trail to Saddle and on down the Weakley Fire Road. Ridge is hardcore! Its a constant uphill slope with rocks ands steps all along the way. My legs felt were feeling like jello about the time we reached the rock scramble. I'm an experienced climber, so those rocks were a welcome relief from the arduous hike up the mountain! There are a few tight spots where my backpack got wedged between some rocks, so pack light! If you aren't a climber I would definitely suggest hiking with a buddy for some boosts. There were a few spots where tunnels and crevices opened up to sheer cliffs and the views were amazing (beware all those afraid of heights). At the summit I climbed onto the highest rock and took in the awesome 360 degree views, a MUST. Near the top, we stopped for some much needed rest and just as one of us commented on how quiet it was, a raven flew by and we could hear his wings beating against the air... crazy! After all of the uphill hike and rock scrambles, heading down the milder Saddle Trail was a welcome relief. The view of the summit from the Saddle Trail and Weakley Fire Road was great and I found myself thinking, "we were all the way up there?" I left completely exhausted but and so overwhelmed by the awesome beauty! We only took a few quick breaks to sit because we were running out of sun, which made it even more exhausting. I would recommend taking your time along the trail and bring lots of water. My two hiking buddies both ran out and ended up drinking from my 2-liter camelback. Its a hike you'll never forget!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 16, 2007
This hike is AMAZING.  My friend and I decided to do it on a very rainy Saturday-- not the brightest idea but since she flew down from Connecticut especially, we couldn't exactly cancel!  We're not very experienced hikers but we're training to climb Kilimanjaro later this year.  It was tough- I'm not going to lie!  A few times we looked at the rock scramble and thought- you have GOT to be kidding, we'll wait here!  But actually, it was exhilirating.  Suggestions: gloves or hand protection-- they can get pretty torn up on some of the climbing, no low hiking boots-- you need the high ones!  Also, pack light- some of the crevices are tight but bring lots of water and layers, it was cold when we started but we were stripping off pretty quickly despite the rain and wind!  Knee pads might have been smart too!  I likened some of the climbing to reaching for something on a high kitchen shelf-- you had to kind of lift up on your knees a few times. Unfortunately, there was too much fog and cloud coverage to see too much but the climb itself was just SO beautiful.  I would recommend this to anyone who was looking for a challenge-- just remember where you put your car!  We ended up having to back track and our legs were about the fall out from under us by the time we finished.  I'd do it again tomorrow if I could!

By: Patty Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 31, 2007

This is one of my favorite hikes.   We arrived at the parking lot early and found a space in the upper parking lot.  The weather was beautiful and the trail wasn't crowded.    Recommend hiking with a buddy on this hike.  The Rock Scrambles are difficult and a hand or a push/lift are  needed at times.  The first time I hiked this trail I experienced anxiety on the high peaks and swore I would never hike Old Rag again.   After hiking this 4 more times I feel secure and enjoy the challenge.  The views are beautiful, the rock scrambles are challenging.  Look forward to future hikes on Old Rag. 

By: Robert Potts Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 3, 2007
This hike was a birthday celebration for Abby and our first trip to Old Rag. In the main parking lot we asked some “men with axes” for advice on the routes to the summit, casually mentioning our fear of heights. (The “men with axes” were clearing the trails of fallen timber. Volunteers we assumed.) They told us of one spot on the rock scramble route where the somewhat narrow rock you walk on slants downward toward a sheer drop off. That made our decision to go the longer way, via the Weakley Hollow Fire Road and then up the Saddle Trail to the summit. The road has a steady upward grade, offers great views of the mountain (“How are we ever getting to the top of that”), and beautiful ice covered streams. We stopped at Old Rag Shelter for a rest, snack and chat with two hikers who had camped lower down on the Mountain and then hiked up early in the morning to be at the top by sunrise. They warned us to be careful going up the Saddle Trail, slippery with ice and snow. They were right. Our hiking boots helped with traction, but the trail was slippery and steep. We moved up, slowly…one of us stopping frequently to admire the views. Hikers coming down the trail (they took the easy route!) told us it was bitter on the top. We had been warm trudging upward so we stopped at the Byrds Nest shelter to add a few layers and then climbed the last ¼ mile to the summit. The sun was out and it was beautiful on top. Cold, but still very pleasant. We ate our lunch sitting in the sun and enjoying the views. We even made a couple of cell phone calls to the family before we lost our signal. Back down the Saddle Trail (much easier than going up), down the road (a bit boring for the second time), passed by the upper parking lot (why didn’t we park there?) and back to the main lot. On the way out we stopped at the Sharp Rock Vineyard to toast a great hike and Abby’s birthday. Weeks before our trip to Old Rag, one of us had been doing some 10 mile hikes on the flat George Washington Parkway bike path. That preparation was necessary, very much so.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 15, 2007
The unseasonably warm weather (60+degF) made for a great hike. Overcast, but no rain, with breezes at the summit. Even having read the literature on the Old Rag Ridge Trail I was still surprised by the difficulty of the rock scramble. Bouldering would be more appropriate in some sections. Albeit, adding this to a backbacking trip and hauling a 30+ pound back pack up through it made it more than challenging. If it weren't for several helpful folks who let me push my pack up to them ahead of myself, it would have taken more creativety then I had at that moment to get to the top. But after alot of huffing and puffing...I finally made it to the top. Had been there before via the Saddle trail, but as always, the views are spectacular.

I would definately recommended the buddy system on this trail and take lots of water. But a great challenge, I highly recommend it.

The saddle trail at 2 miles offers a less challenging  route up than the Ridge Trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 5, 2006
I have been wanting to take this hike for some time. My Brother, Greg, said when I decide to go, he would go with me. So I left The Eastern Shore of Md. at 5:45 and arrived at 0945am. Greg was waiting in parking lot. He just got their himself from Roanoke. After paying the entrance fee we decided to go to the end of 600 and park in the upper Rag lot.. Good choice.. only 1 other car their. Temp was 35 at trailhead. light wind. Very nice trail to start out. well marked and well worn! As we climbed you could already start to see nice views. the trees are leafless now. very little wildlife was encountered. I saw three deer from my car on way to lot. some squirrels on the trails. thats it.. peace and quiet.. The rock formations were spectacular. everywhere you look. The much talked about scramble was great. Greg hikes alot more than I do and it was a challenge for him.. We really enjoyed getting up, over and around those rocks. I am glad we did this together. To dangerous to be alone.. We ran into one guy who started on the weakley hollow fire road and now 4.5 miles later was encountering the scramble. he was tired. So as a recomendation, come up the Ridge trail and do the scramble first. cause the fire road is nice going down.. The view up top was great. I could see cars on skyline dr. The ravens were circling below making some peculiar noises. Temp up top about 30 with stiff breeze for teen windchills.. After descending to Byrd shelter we enjoyed our lunch. the descent was very nice and the streams were running strong.. couple campers down at Old Rag shelter were their for couple nights enjoying that BIG full moon Greg and I saw coming up this morn. Following the fire road and seeing the history of the old town and foundations there was humbling. how people lived up there in those harsh conditions amazes me . back at the lot and just about 5 hrs exactly with lunch.. great hike.. would like to come back in spring and camp...

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 19, 2006
We hiked Old Rag this Sunday.  We had three 35 year old Dads, one seven year old, 3 five year olds, and one 3 year old.  Of course we had to park in the lower lot.  We were a little apprehensive about the hike for our children, even though they have hiked the Maryland Heights Trail (Harpers Ferry), Sugarloaf Mountain and others multiple times.

The weather was perfect, about 50 degrees.  I felt a little over dressed in the beginning but soon the temperature dropped and I was more comfortable.  The kids started to complain about 2/3 of the way up to reach the rock scramble (bored and a little tired).

When reached the rock scramble their eyes lit up.  We had to lift the children over several areas, but they were having the time of their life.  We all had a renewed vigor with the fun and the challenge of the rock scramble.

The kids started a little complaining about 1/4 of the way down the descent, and continued some intermittent complaining until we reached the parking lot.  That having been said, they loved the hike, and cannot stop talking about it.  It was the best hike they have ever done.  It might have been a little easier without miles of the boring fire road at the bottom.

I carried my three year old on my shoulders for about 60% of the hike (what a workout).  I'm sure some naysayer might say that thats irresponsible but she (and the other kids) had the time of their lifes (we can't raise our children in bubbles).  If you are in really good shape, I would recommend taking a 3 or 4 year old, but make sure you have a strong back and legs (because you'll be carrying them some of the time), and realize that there are some risks (be careful!).

By: FakeHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 9, 2006
This is an awesome hike. My friend and I went on a Thursday so it wouldn't be as crowded. Even so, there were several other groups out that day. The views are beautiful, but I just have to warn everyone that this hike is maybe harder then people make it out to be! It's so popular you think of it as maybe being easier but do not be fooled. There are two parts of the difficulty: the regular sort of hiking up a mountain type exercise, and then the ROCK SCRAMBLES. Some of these scrambles are just plain fun, but some are really pretty difficult, and a couple moments are actually quite scary. My friend and I definitely had to use each other a few times to get through some scrambles, and if you're climbing with someone who gets scared easily or doesn't have very good upper body strength you might have a harder time. Also if you're shorter then you may need extra help in places.

Finally, I don't know if anyone has addressed this but there are some pretty tight squeezes in the rock scrambles, so if you're a bigger hiker you might find an added layer of difficulty that way. This also means keeping your backpack especially small.

Beautiful beautiful beautiful views, and the rock scrambles are a blast. Do this hike, but don't underestimate its difficulty.

By: ElliottsKnob Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 4, 2006
Six weeks after our youth group hike my daughter and some of her friends returned to Old Rag. My shoulder [injured on the previous trip] was still sore but I managed to pull through the rocks pretty well. The colors were pretty magnificent and the crowds were there in force. We spent a lot of time waiting at the climbing points. Hats off to Bear, who made this hike with a three year old! His story proves we know our own kids abilities. My kids could climb rocks all day, but never wanted a long hike on a fire road. We actually went up and down the rocks to avoid that.

By: ElliottsKnob Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 23, 2006
We took our Church youth on what has become an annual adventure, hiking Old Rag. With 10 kids [junior high and high school] we had a fabulous time. One person had a LARGE school backpack full of clothes and water bottles. I bet one of  the adults that I would end up carrying that thing. Ahh, youth! Several of her friends pitched in and I never shouldered the overweight load. Great team building excercise. We had fun climbing the rocks, but I discovered, much to my chagrin, that my Vasque boots slipped right off some of the wet places on the rocks. I was being bested by kids in tennies! To add injury to insult, I had a fairly nasty fall on the Saddle Trail coming down. Saw lots of young kids [seven, eight, nine...] on the mountain having a ball! This trip it was the adults who were taking a beating. As we finished the hike, a beautiful Yearling Black Bear walked across the trailhead parking lot! The kids loved it!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 13, 2006
An amazing hike that lasted all afternoon.   We had rain off and on throughout the afternoon and the hardest rain came at the top.  It was refreshing for sure.  THis shot is from the top looking almost due north.  The sun came out as it was raining.  It's a tough hike so bring lots of water and energy!  ENJOY!

By: Tomie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 17, 2005
Very pleasurable 8.8 miles round-trip hike. Very easy, not steep, the rock scramble is fun, especially for the little childrens. Some members of my group described Old Rag as a "cupcake" hike and, I couldn't agree more. Anyone can do this Hike. Over weight alcoholic teachers, small children with 25 pound backpacks on, and even self-doubting yoga teachers will find Old Rag to be a breeze.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 25, 2005
I hike this 5 times every summer for work and on my own. If you like this hike, you might also like White Oak Canyon/Ceder Run which is in Syria. Take Etlan road to the T and turn right onto Rt. 600. No views but great hike and beautiful waterfalls. While you are in the area, stop by The Little Country Store in Etlan and talk to the locals, we love to meet new people, just don't ask us for directions- bring your own.

By: Doug Axelrod Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 4, 2004
I love this hike.  My scout troop (673) takes this hike every year in december to camp just beyond byrds nest (the first shelter).  The colder, the better the trip.  Always a good time!  I had a 7 year streak going till this past year when I couldn't make it.  It was a humbling experience at 13 years old and still a learning experience at 20.  I would recommend camping in december to anyone interested in a cold challenge (add 6 inches of snow and it gets interesting).

By: Wayne Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Grew up hiking and camping Old Rag before it became a destination stop for outdoor wannabes. Back then there were no crowds and there was only one parking lot with room for about 20 cars max at the top. It was a fun hike and the best reward was always the rock scramble at the end. These days everyone and their grandmother frequents. My last trip up had me passing droves of people, there must have literally been 60 or so. On the way down I was jumping over peoples heads from rock to rock, I had to, there was no other way. I guess this is the way of things, everyone wants the best and since Old Rag is one of the best hikes in the area its no wonder people flock here. It will only get worse as even more time goes on.

By: Nathan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 3, 1988
I hiked this thing for the first time yesterday. It afforded some gorgeous views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and was well worth the (at times) strenuous climb. I must say that I was unprepared for the rock scramble. I didn't want to look at pictures of the trail lest they spoil the views. But my girlfriend and I managed to make our way through, over, below, etc., the boulders. (It's nice to have a buddy on this trail that can help pull you up on the more challenging parts.) Bring lots of liquids and a lunch and snacks.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 2, 1910
My friends and I get together and do a once a week hike on Tuesdays.  Hiked Old Rag twice and White Oak once so far love them both.  Hiked Old Rag again today with my boyfriend in 4 hours total trip (We hustled).  When we got to the top we had lunch and walked 30% and slow-jogged (70%) back down the way we came.  It was fun and much more challenging and enjoyable than the Fire Road way back....Which is long and boring.  I love Old Rag!!!!  That's what I call hiking!  The Rock Scramble is AWESOME!!!  It would be great if you have a back pack that straps around your waist and/or chest for support when climbing the rock scramble.  We packed PB&J sandwiches, a few snack bars, a bowl of fresh assorted fruit and lots of water.  Eat at the top of the Summit the views are spectacular!  The weekends are very busy with lots of people.  Go during the week and you'll have the mountain pretty much to yourself.  I would hike it every other day if I could.  A must go!!!  Don't forget your camera!

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