by Bill and Mary Burnham (Falcon Guides)
© 2013 Bill and Mary Burnham/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
A fun hike with a lot of great views. The "rock scramble" was by far my favorite part. It requires you to climb over, squeeze through, duck under, and slide down a variety of obstacles. This is a busy trail, so if you plan on hiking it on the weekends be prepared. You may have to wait at some of the more difficult climbing parts as people figure it out. At one spot almost everyone required a hand from above or a push from below as they tried to get over a boulder. I hiked this on a Sunday and the crowd at the top was quite large. The rocks provide a great challenge if you are looking for something different than a regular trail. Overall it deserves its reputation as one of the best hikes in VA.
what a great hike, super walk in the woods, and the scranble to the top is challlenging but doable!
Pay your parking fee at the lower lot before heading up -- no pay post at upper lot.
As the person said below, I would advise starting this hike by ascending the boulders (not starting on the fire path). The trail starts out rather steep and the same trees and rocks can be seen for the first hour or so. My cousin and I hiked at a decent pace. The fun started once we got to the boulders and climbing the rocks. The views were awesome from atop old rag and other various place. Total hike was about 8 miles over a 4 hour period. We took a nice break on top also.
I have lived in NVA for 40 years. Old Rag used to be great. You could go there and rarely see another soul. These days everyone and their grandmother goes. Literally. Old Rag has become a prime destination for people who want to say they are outdoor oriented but really arent. My last trip I literally past at least 100 people on the way down jumping over their heads from rock to rock so that I could get by them. Its a shame because it used to be awesome. With this many people though you might as well go to Starbucks on a busy city street and get the same experience. I still remember my second to last trip. On the way up thunderstorms were moving in, and people were still trying to get to the top. I even saw one lady on her way up with a metal framed kid carrier backpack going up.
Rating is not for the trail because Old Rag remains one of the best hikes in Shenadoah. For us though... the day was a chore. As we neared the summit coming up from the fire road the wind begin to pick up and looking to the West we saw the snow beginning to come down over White Oak Canyon. As we reached the summit and just before we could take in our first view from the vista the snow hit. Unfortunately this meant we did not have long on the peak before we had to make a hasty and chilly retreat bak down teh way we had come. Old Rag is definitely still calling but until the fall and a foreecast for perfect weather I;ll look to other challenges.
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