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Old Rag Mountain, VA Day Hike

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This day hike took place the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 27, 1998. I arrived at the trailhead at 7:30 am, hoping that others would show up as well. I got a parking space right at the trailhead, avoiding an additional 1 mile walk each way to the overflow parking. By 8:30 am no one else showed so I decided to do this one solo. I hiked Old Rag about 5 years ago with a bunch of people from work. I remember it as being
The first blaze on the Ridge Trail on Old Rag

At right, The first blaze on the Ridge Trail on Old Rag.
By Mike Calabrese.

a fun hike. I must have gotten out of shape in the last five years as it was still fun but it seemed harder. The route that I took was up the blue blazed Ridge Trail to the summit of Old Rag, then down to the Byrd's Nest #1 shelter, where I picked up the Saddle Trail, which took me to the Old Rag Shelter. I then took a fire road to the yellow blazed Weakley Hollow Fire Road, which took me back to the Old Rag parking area. The distance was 7.1 miles, the elevation changes were about 2200 feet.
Natural staircase below Old Rag summit

At left,Natural staircase below Old Rag summit.
By Mike Calabrese

The way that I took was harder at first but the sloping grade down the Weakley Hollow Fire Road Trail at the end was very relaxing. The Ridge Trail has you scurrying over, under and around boulders on the way up. You also go through natural staircases and tunnels. At 3 points on the ascent, you have to pull yourself up over boulders, so you have to be in shape. One can view this part of the trail as either fun, a challenge or just a pain! Some people elect to take the Weakley Hollow/Fire Road/Saddle Trail/Ridge Trail route up to the summit, then take this same route back down as it is easier. It's up to the individual.

The views from the top were spectacular. The wind was very strong at the summit. I almost lost my hat a number of times. There were people of all ages out enjoying the summit on a beautiful fall day.
A winter view right below the summit of Old Rag

At right, a winter view right below the summit of Old Rag.
By Mike Calabrese

When I got back to my car the trailhead parking as well as well as the overflow parking were filled to capacity. I was on the road by around 2:30 that afternoon.

Even though Old Rag Mountain is very popular (some even say overused) there are times when you can have it to yourself, like weekdays, early in the morning or in winter. Don't forget that there is an entrance fee of $5.00. It's a great day hike. Just get in shape to shimmy those rocks on the Ridge Trail beforehand!

Mike C

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Please note that, as of 03-01-2019 you must pay the entrance fee to Shenandoah National park to hike Old Rag Mountain. The entrance fee was $30.00 as of the above date. So it is advisable to get a National Parks yearly pass to save money.

Also, parking is no longer allowed at the trailhead. You must park at the parking area about a mile before the trailhead. And please be advised that this parking lot fills up by 10:00 AM most weekends. The rangers usually close the lot when it fills up.

And as of 07/04/2020 there is a new parking lot closer to the old trailhead as well as new access trails from both of these parking lots that now eliminate walking on VA600.

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