Featuring hikes with adventurous rock scrambles and 360-degree views that make you feel like you're on top of the world, there's no wonder why Old Rag is the most popular destination in Shenandoah National Park.
While highly rewarding, hiking to the summit of Old Rag is also very physically demanding and can be dangerous if you have not planned properly. In order to ensure your safety and make the most out of your hike, be sure that you understand the basics of hiking safety before you set out on your adventure. Aside from these basics, there are a few more things that you need to know before hiking Old Rag:
Know Your Limits
Be sure that you are physically able to complete the hikes on Old Rag Mountain. Most hikes in this area are long, and there is significant elevation change with a strenuous rock scramble that requires good upper body strength. Often, children and shorter adults need assistance navigating the rock scramble.
Bring a Map
There are several different ways to hike Old Rag, so make sure that you pick the best route for you. Compare the different options and print or download the Old Rag trail map so that you have it with you while you're hiking.
Although you need to be sure you have plenty of water and food, it is a good idea to pack as lightly as possible. Most hikers prefer fanny packs to backpacks, which can be difficult to maneuver through the rock scramble.
Avoid the Crowds
Planning your hike on a weekday will likely enhance your experience since Old Rag can become very crowded on weekends. At times, the parking lot will be full, and there can be long lines and substantial waits at some of the narrow rock scrambles If the parking lot is full, please move on to a less-crowded hike and come back to Old Rag another day!
Leave Your Pets at Home
Pets are prohibited on the Ridge, Saddle, Old Rag Access, & Ridge Access trails.
Know the Camping Regulations
Legal overnight camping sites are very limited in the Old Rag area as camping is prohibited above 2,800', so be sure to properly plan your backcountry trip.
Note the Numbers
You will notice numbers beneath the trail blazes on Old Rag. These are reference numbers for Search and Rescue personnel, so take note of the numbers as you pass them. If you need to report an incident, referring to the number you are closest to will help Park staff respond to you more quickly.
Old Rag is host to many rare and endangered plants that live in the rocky environment of the granite boulders. These plants are particularly susceptible to trampling, so please stay on the trail and observe all rock outcrop management closure areas.
Hiking Old Rag in the Winter
Be sure to carry microspikes or traction coil devices for your boots with you when you hike Old Rag. Even when it's perfectly clear in lower elevations, trails can be be icy and snow-covered during colder weather, and these devices can protect you from a nasty fall.
Although Old Rag Mountain is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park, most people approach it from the Park's eastern boundary, instead of from Skyline Drive. You are still required to pay an entrance fee, but parking at the lots operated by the National Park Service is free. Landowners with property adjacent to the Park are charging a fee for parking on their property, but paying a private citizen to park does not exempt you from the Park entrance fee. Parking is prohibited along the road shoulders.
Sperryville to Old Rag Parking: From Route 211, turn onto Route 522 and follow it south for 0.8 mile. Turn right on Route 231, follow 8 miles, turn right onto Route 601 and follow signs to the Old Rag parking area, approximately 3 miles.
Madison to Old Rag Parking: From Route 29 Business, turn onto Route 231 and follow it for 12.8 miles. Turn left onto Route 602. Follow signs for the parking area, approximately 3 miles.
Sperryville to Berry Hollow Parking: take Rt. 231 S, turn right onto Rt. 643, then right onto Weakley Hollow Rd. Follow for about 4.5 miles to parking area. Parking is extremely limited.
Madison to Berry Hollow Parking: take Rt. 231 N, turn left onto Rt. 670, right onto Rt. 643, then continue straight onto Weakley Hollow Rd. Go past the Whiteoak Canyon parking area to Berry Hollow parking area. Parking is extremely limited.