Old Rag is Shenandoah's most popular and most dangerous hike. The number of blogs and websites about this hike attests to its popularity. The number of search and rescue missions each year attests to its danger. There's no doubt that the scramble is great fun and the views are spectacular. A day on Old Rag is one of Shenandoah's premier experiences. We want to be sure that your experience is not marred by an accident or health issue that could be prevented with good planning.
Planning Your Visit
The most important step to a great hiking experience in Shenandoah National Park is good planning. Many of the points below are applicable to any hike, but there are a few special considerations for Old Rag.
Although Old Rag Mountain is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park, most people approach it from the park's eastern boundary. Follow these directions to get to the trailhead:
Especially during busy weekends, parking can be another challenge. All Old Rag hikers must use the large parking area at the Old Rag Fee Station. The small parking area at the Old Rag Trailhead is NOT open to the public.
Parking at the lot at the fee station is free. You are required to purchase an entrance permit. Landowners with property adjacent to the Park are charging a fee for parking on their property. Paying a private citizen to park does not affect the entrance fee. Be sure to check the Shenandoah lot for availability before paying to park.
Visitors hiking Old Rag must have a valid Shenandoah National Park entrance permit. You can purchase permits and yearly passes from Rangers when present, or via self-pay at the Old Rag Fee Station. Please note: We cannot accept pre-loaded gift cards. Learn more about Shenandoah's fees.
Overnight Camping in the Old Rag Area
Legal overnight camping sites are very limited in the Old Rag area. Camping is prohibited above 2,800'. If you want to make your trip an overnight one, you'll need a Backcountry Camping permit and you'll need to study a map of the area to choose a site. Visit our Backcountry Trip Planning pages for more information. Study the suggested trips for the Old Rag, Corbin Hollow, and Nicholson Hollow areas.
Last updated: March 19, 2020