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black Old Rag Loop

  4.8 ( 187 ) Favorite

Trail

8.9 mile 14.3 kilometer loop
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,362' 720 m
Descent: -2,359' -719 m
High: 3,221' 982 m
Low: 859' 262 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by KC93 Ci

An extremely popular hike, and for good reason, with awesome scrambling and stunning views.

KC93 Ci

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife

No camping above 2800 feet.

General Park Pass Info
  • Shenandoah Annual Pass - $40
  • Shenandoah Single Vehicle Fee (7 days) - $20
  • Shenandoah "Per Person" Fee (walk-up/7 days) - $10
  • Shenandoah Motorcycle Fee (7 days) - $15
  • Campground Fees (per site/night) - $15 to $20

Camping Information

Overview

This trail is totally worth it, but make sure you are ready for a lot of people because this is so close to a bunch of cities it gets a ton of traffic even on less than ideal days. Do not let this deter you, as this is a classic hike. Just be sure to get an early start.

Need to Know

This is a popular rock climbing spot. Do not throw things off of the cliffs. Check out Mountain Project's Shennendoah National Park climbing beta if you're interested in climbing in the park.

Big backpacks can be cumbersome. The NPS recommends a fanny pack, but a small backpack would be fine. Squeezing through those boulders might just be a tad bit harder.

Description

Park at the Old Rag parking lot and pay the Park fee (see the Restrictions notes). Ridge Trail is the most popular way to get to the top of Old Rag. It is steep, long and requires a lot of rock scrambling. If you get hurt here it can take hours to be rescued so only do this hike if you are prepared.

Follow the road about 0.8 miles to the trailhead, which should be marked in blue. If you continue straight, you'll go onto Weakley Hollow Fire Road, which can be taken to do this loop in the opposite direction. To complete this loop as mapped, turn left onto Ridge Trail, which starts as a fairly gradual uphill to the first viewpoint, in approximately two miles. From here, the trail becomes rockier until the second viewpoint. After this, the hike quickly turns into more of a climb. There are often tight passages between rocks and stone staircases. If your backpack is too big it might require you to remove it in order to squeeze through the rocks.

After another mile, you'll reach the summit, which is especially fantastic in the fall. There can be rock climbers around the summit, so please do not throw things off the cliffs. After enjoying the view, head down the southwestern side of the mountain via the various staircases leading to a day-use shelter called Byrd's Nest.

Head down the stone stairs for another mile or so. From there, you'll reach Old Rag day-use shelter which has an outhouse you can use. Continue down the rest of the way until you reach an intersection with Berry Hollow Fire Road and Weakley Hollow Fire Road.

Turn right and head down the yellow-marked Weakley Hollow Fire Road. You'll pass a few trails on your left, but just stay straight. On your way back you'll see the Ridge Trail off to your right and eventually you'll be back at your car!

Flora & Fauna

You are likely to see deer and other wildlife, as well as a steady profusion of wildflowers during the spring, summer, and fall. Watch for changes in vegetation as you gain altitude.

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Check-Ins

Jul 13, 2019
CM Sershon
When they say rock scrambles they mean is. Easily class 3. Bring water and a filter to refill. Gave a more comprehensive review in the comment section
Jul 12, 2019
Timothy Straub
Awesome time! Some difficult rock scrambling but well worth the view. 8.9mi
Jul 3, 2019
Galen Erickson
Much harder hike than expected, bring a lot of water and be prepared to do a lot of climbing over boulders. Not for novices! 8.9mi
Jul 1, 2019
Theo Harkness
Fun and strenuous hike, well worth the time and energy. 10mi — 3h 55m
Jun 30, 2019
Mengjun Yu
First time hiking old rag!! 10.1mi — 5h 30m
Jun 29, 2019
Faadhil Moheed
Got stuck behind some people on rock scramble, overall hot — 5h 00m
Jun 28, 2019
Joe Kempista
Jun 25, 2019
David Barber

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 187 votes

#9

Overall
  4.8 from 187 votes
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