Iconic Hikes Vol. 2: Old Rag
Slide, scramble and climb your way to the rocky summit of Shenandoah's Old Rag.
This edition of Iconic Hikes features Old Rag, one of Shenandoah National Park's most popular summits and most fun day hikes in the park. The trail to the top requires some steep hiking, maneuvering rock chutes, and scrambling over boulders to reach the exposed summit and 360 degree views.
You'll begin your hike from the Old Rag parking area located east of the park off Route 231. If you're in Shenandoah already, take Skyline Drive to Thornton Gap and exit the park on U.S. Hwy. 211 to Sperryville. From there you'll be able to pick up Route 231 south. See the link below for detailed directions from Sperryville.
The first two miles of the hike will be along forested trail as the path begins to climb steeply. The trail will emerge onto the ridgetop, which is where the highlight of this hike begins. The next mile and a half will have you traversing through a playground of boulders and rocky passages. You'll need to shimmy up rock chutes, duck under massive stones, and scramble your way across the granite path. The route is marked with blue blazes and is relatively easy to follow.
After several excellent viewpoints along the way, you'll reach the fully exposed summit of Old Rag and be treated to 360 degree views of Shenandoah National Park.
After you've had your fill of the magnificent view, follow the Saddle Trail down from the summit to where it meets Weakley Hollow fire road. On the way you'll pass two day use shelters. Overnight camping in the Old Rag area is prohibited. Keep an eye out for wildlife like black bears and deer. Follow the fire road back to the trailhead and head down the road to the parking area to end your day.
Distance: 8.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous, with some tight passages and rock scrambling.
Trailhead: Ridge Trail trailhead 0.8 miles from the Old Rag Parking area.
Route: From the Old Rag parking area, follow the road 0.8 miles to the trailhead with Ridge Trail. Follow Ridge Trail to the summit of Old Rag. From there, take the Saddle Trail to its junction with the Weakley Hollow fire road and follow the road back to the parking area.
Permits: Visitors must have a valid Shenandoah entrance pass. There is a self service fee station at the Old Rag parking area.
Best Time To Go: The parking area can fill to capacity on weekends, and lead to congestion in the narrow rock scrambles on Ridge Trail. Get an early start to beat the crowds. Fall is an excellent time for foliage viewing from the summit, but the hike is enjoyable in spring and summer as well.