Hiking Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park

November 17, 2008

Sunday was a long, but rewarding trip through the Old Rag circuit hike in Shenandoah National Park. The view was spectacular from the top but there was not a ton of action on the wildlife front.


Shortly before 8 a.m., I arrived at the overflow parking area on Nethers Road (Rt. 600) and waited for the rest of my group to arrive. The main lot closest to the trailhead only has 12 spaces and was already filled. The overflow parking is about a mile down the road and has 100+ spots.

The route we chose for the hike is the 8.8 circuit from Ridge Trail to the summit, then Saddle Trail to Weakley Hollow Fire Road back to the trailhead.

We chose to take the rock scramble on the uphill and I think that was a good idea. For those unfamiliar with the trail, for some distance before the summit, it is necessary to pull yourself over some rocks, squeeze through cracks, and boulder hop a bit… thus, the “rock scramble.” It was also a bit difficult in sections due to water from recent rain.

Working at a leisurely pace, we made it to a false summit and climbed onto it for lunch and a little relaxation. Temperatures throughout the area were between 35 and 40 degrees and there was only a mild wind, so it was a good day overall. We even got a few snow flurries.

Around 2 p.m., we finally made it to the summit at 3,291 feet. I spent a short amount of time following some birds before we set out on the downhill segment.


Winding through Saddle Trail, we passed the Byrds Nest 1 Shelter and the Old Rag Shelter, day-use stone shelters with a little picnic setup inside. We were also told that we had just missed a bear crossing the trail.

At day’s end, we made our way back to our vehicles a little after 5 p.m., just as the sun was setting.

Although our group was mostly unscathed by the trek, we did hear about one person who dislocated his shoulder while a good deal into the circuit. It’s a blast to be outdoors doing these kinds of hikes, but you’ve got to be as careful as you can. The middle of this hike is a bad time for any accident.

101608oldrag5edThe group and I

The most difficult thing to research was exactly how to find the parking area. Shortly after this post, I’ll work up directions for anyone who is interested in hiking Old Rag.

2 Responses to “Hiking Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park”

  1. What a reward, being able to have such a view, look a little cold, but well worth it once you reached the top Im sure!

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