Old Rag Loop

A epic and mesmerizing hike — "One of Shenandoah's premier experiences."

Hiking Difficult

Distance
15 km
Ascent
734 m
Descent
734 m
Duration
4-5 hrs
Low Point
259 m
High Point
992 m
Gradient
10˚
Old Rag Loop Map

The Old Rag Loop is one of the most coveted hikes in Shenandoah National Park. No matter who you ask, this epic ~9-mile loop is one of the top hikes and a must-do if you have the time. A key highlight is the rock scramble near the summit - a challenging feat rewarded with incredible views from an exposed rock outcropping.

Description

The National Park considers this of the most popular, yet most dangerous hikes around. "A day on Old Rag is one of Shenandoah's premier experiences," they even proclaim! Though many have completed the loop in less, set aside at least 7 hours to be safe. Weekdays are also recommended over weekends, as the parking lot can quickly fill during peak season.

In contrast to most hikes in Shenandoah National Park, this loop does not begin on Skyline Drive. You could incorporate it into a longer hike from the scenic roadway, but it's best when hiked from the Lower Old Rag Parking Area.

A parking fee is also required for this hike. Per the NPS, "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 that this is one of the more dangerous hikes in Shenandoah National Park. The NPS highlights that numerous search and rescue missions occur each year, and wants "to be sure that your experience is not marred by an accident or health issue that could be prevented with good planning."

Pets are not allowed on Old Rag.

A detailed guide to hiking Old Rag Mountain can be found here.

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area