Summary: This is by far the best hike I have ever done in Shenandoah National Park, and I have completed it several times.
The trail begins as a barely discernable path through the woods, but quickly narrows to a clearly marked, well maintained trail. The trail winds slowly up the mountain eventually ending in a series of switchbacks.
When you complete the switchback section you are treated to some of the finest hiking/climbing in the area. Your path becomes a talus field of boulders the size of cars, and from here on out you are using your hands constantly, and sometimes scrambling on your knees.
There are 2-3 places where you have some exposure, so leave your vertigo at home. Although this summit and its ascent trail do not yield 360 degree views, there are some beautiful vistas along the way.
Descend the far side of the summit using the Saddle Trail which ends on the Weakly Hollow Fire Road.
Trailhead: The trailhead is located at the end of the upper parking lot. During peak times, such as weekends, you will be hardpressed to get a spot in the upper lot, so you may need to walk here from the lower lot.
The ridge trail branches off from the "You Are Here" trail head signage off the edge of the upper parking lot. At first the trail is not easily distinguishable becasue the area is so barren, but the blue blazes are there to lead your way and soon lead you to a nicely defined trail in just under 1/4 of a mile.
Trail Guides for Old Rag Summit Ridge Trail:
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
by Bert & Jane Gildart (Falcon Guide)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: National Park Service
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Jeffrey R. Daro, who has posted 2 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Amy on 9/15/2009
A definite favorite! Make sure you bring plenty of water I recommend at least 36 ounces per person. Some of the rock scrambles can be difficult but the challenge is great. I went with two friends and we helped each other along. I wouldn't suggest this hike for very small children. The hike took us 5 hours but if you want to enjoy the scenery expect at least 6 or 7 hours.
Reviewed by TOLGA on 9/8/2009
Great hike,stuning summit view,don't trust Google map and do not take Rolling road,pass the rolling road aprx.4 more miles you won't miss it. ps: Robinson trail is short but way harder,get the long trail,
Reviewed by John W on 2/19/2009
I have to agree this was a great hike. My wife & I did this hike on Feb 15th. Not for the faint of heart, several people who passed us on the trail, came back down when they got to the rock scramble. And a man hiking with his teenage son actually dislocated his shoulder about 2/3 of the way through the boulders. He had already gotten wrapped up in a space blanket and a young woman was kind enough to snuggle up to him to help keep him warm. We stayed about an hour and fixed him a hot meal to help him stay warm, until the rangers got there (3 hour wait for him). After bagging the summit, we headed down the Saddle trail and then took Weakly Hollow Fire Road back to the car. Yes we were lucky to get a park spot up top. We'll be back!
Reviewed by gh on 1/15/2008
We did it in the middle of January and it was a fabulous hike! For the first hour or so it's pretty rough and a little monotonous, but the scrambling makes it worth all that. There are lots of great boulders and hand-over-hand action. The views are spectacular and the work-out is worth it.
Reviewed by Topotraveler on 10/14/2007
Bring water!, but WOW, what a hike, the hike part is a little boring until you get to the rock scramble, but we were really worn out by then, muscle fatigue, but we did make it to the top, and did this as a circuit hike, others were reversing and climbing back down the scramble, we took the longer but easier exit. AMAZING VISTAS, probably wont dont it again, a major cardio workout and calf burner. took us 8 hrs, we stopped to eat lunch for an hour, and stopped many many times to rest and catch our breath. GO FOR IT at least once
Reviewed by McAdams on 6/29/2007
I've done it 20 or so times, rain and shine. Two bear encounters, countless deer. It's a hallowed place.
Reviewed by Pigeon on 5/26/2007
This was a great hike. The first hour is fairly tough climbing up the switchbacks but then the rock scrambling begins. I am not in great shape but was able to complete in 4.5 hours with a 30 min stop at the top. A little crowded during the scrambling portion.
Reviewed by JJakes on 2/8/2007
Had the trail to myself yesterday with freshly fallen snow and sunny skies. Not an easy winter hike given the conditions - felt more like an easy technical winter climb on the ridge with the cold temps and winds. Some of the scrambling and trail finding definitely harder with the ice and snow. As for the trail itself, lots of ice hidden under the snow, so be careful if running the downhills. Snowshoes and crampons not necessary, but my Yaktrax sure helped.
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