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“Rock Scramble is fun”

Old Rag Mountain Hike
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 27 May 2014

We did this hike over the Memorial Day weekend with our two kids, 9 and 7. While planning the trip, I had doubts about whether my 7 year old is able to do it, but I am really glad that we did it. The rock scramble is her favorite part.

This is a long hike. The circuit trail is 8 miles, plus the roundtrip from parking lot to the trail head, it's 9+ miles. The elevation gain is 2200ft. We hiked on Sunday. When we arrived at the parking lot at 9:45am, the lot is 80% full. You do need to pay the entrance fee at the parking lot. The weather is warm, reaching 80 degrees. Most of the hike (except the rock scramble) is shaded. So, it's quite pleasant, not too hot. The ascend to the summit via the rock scramble is 3 miles and descend via fire road is 5 miles. The rock scramble is everything the previous reviews had described. There are narrow crevices that one needs to lower into; upper body strength is required to push oneself up; at one place, one needs to jump over a crevice. One definitely will need to be on all four from time to time. This is the hard part, but the fun part. One gains a lot of elevation at the rock scramble. Because of this, I find this trail to be less strenous than other trails of similar distance/elevation gain but made up mostly of switchbacks. If we reverse the direction and ascend from the fire road and descend via rock scramble, it would probably be harder. We did the hike in 7 hours.

Both of the kids needed some help along the way on the rock scramble. There is a place even myself needed a helping hand since I lack upper body strength. So, if you are hiking with fairly young kids, it would be nice to have 2 adults, one in the front, and one at the back. Even though it's 80 degrees, our family is dressed in long pants. I think this is a good idea, because there are places on the rock scramble you'll need to use your knees to help. The NPS webiste recommends 2 quarts of water per person. And that is true even for kids. We didn't have camelback, so we brought 16 bottles (2 gallons) of water, and finished 14.

All in all, it's a great hike. The scenary at and near the top is the typical of Shenandoah vista. And there are many of these vistas along the trail.

7  Thank Aurora09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"upper body strength"
in 16 reviews
"rock scramble"
in 97 reviews
"parking lot"
in 48 reviews
"saddle trail"
in 10 reviews
"lots of water"
in 13 reviews
"false summit"
in 8 reviews
"an early start"
in 6 reviews
"bring enough"
in 5 reviews
"full body"
in 4 reviews
"upper lot"
in 3 reviews
"avoid the crowds"
in 9 reviews
"big crowds"
in 3 reviews
"bring plenty"
in 3 reviews
"huge rocks"
in 3 reviews
"tight squeezes"
in 3 reviews
"actual trail"
in 3 reviews
"trail mix"
in 3 reviews

217 - 221 of 298 reviews

Reviewed 21 May 2014

OK. So there are many reviews on this topic and they all say about the same thing. Here's a novice hiker's perspective in straight talk:

- Yes. Ever little bit.
- Beautiful encounter with nature, outstanding views, and a good physical challenge.

- Yes, but not for the weak of heart.
- All the way uphill to the summit. Quite steep at times.
- The rock "scramble" is a long stretch, not a cakewalk and requires some climbing.
- Many rocks are huge, steep and slippery so light shoes with firm grip are essential. Since some of the crevices between rocks are tight, avoid big bulky hiking shoes.
- The roundtrip is about 10 miles and can take several hours.
- I will not recommend this to younger children (partly because they may not be able to do it, but largely because they tend to be careless and can seriously harm themselves if not 100% supervised).
- I will also not recommend it to older people with heart or vascular disease or poor stamina.
- If you're relatively young and run a couple of blocks, or go up 5 flights of stairs, go for it.

- I've heard it's very busy on the weekends so pick a weekday.
- Start as early as you can (7am - 8am). Spend as much time as you want. No point rushing.
- Check the weather forecast. Partly cloudy is idea (as too much sun or rain can both be a problem).

- Don't go alone (as there is no cellphone signal, rangers are few and far between and you may get stuck between rocks or slip off one and no one will know about it).
- Go with somebody who is about as active as yourself, and whose company you enjoy.
- Smaller groups are better as in a place like this, you want to be around as few people as possible.

- Pack as light as possible (the smaller the bag pack the better).
- No need for a flashlight or headlamp (if you plan to be done before 5pm, which I recommend).
- Do not pack more than 1/2 to 3/4 a gallon of water (water is heavy and you don't need to shower).
- Clean a half gallon plastic milk container, put lots of ice cubes in it so it stays cold for the trip.
- Keep an extra small plastic water bottle for immediate access (wash hands, etc.)
- Two sandwiches and 3 to 4 energy bars is ample when it comes to food. Dates (the fruit) is an excellent and compact source of quick energy needs.
- Pack a light jacket or a rain jacket just in case it gets cold or wet.
- Wear long shorts (cargos) to stay light yet maximally covered.
- No need to pack extra clothes (unless you're a sweater and want to keep an extra T-shirt handy).
- Keep a small pocketknife (Swiss Army type) ... the only just-in-case item I would recommend.
- Trash bag (can be used for many tasks but mostly to carry your trash with you - do not litter!).
- Unless you're a photography buff, no need for a big SLR. The phone on your iPhone will do just fine.
- A few bandaids, some ibuprofen, skin wipes and bug repellant spray. Sunscreen if you tan easy.
- My friend brought gripping gloves which he felt came in very handy.

- Parking is ample (but I've heard it fills up quickly on weekends).
- There are port-a-potties in the lot but after that, its you and the wilderness. Pack some toilet paper.
- Rangers patrol the track and are very helpful and professional - but you may not come across one.
- Follow the blue marks on trees and rocks to stay on track.

If you like hiking, this is a must-do. Even if you haven't hiked before (like myself) but are moderately active and are willing to take on a challenge, this hike will make your day and will prove to be a memorable one. Pack very light. Aim to get there early on a weekday and get out before dark. Go for it.

7  Thank DocMoMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 May 2014

I am an avid hiker, and I definitely underestimated the rock scramble that is part of this hike. That being said, my husband and I had a great time and would definitely recommend it. WATCH THE WEATHER FORECAST! We knew there would be afternoon showers so we started early and hiked as quickly as possible with the goal of being past the summit before it started raining. We made it! However, now that I have seen the rock scramble, I can assure you this was a terrible idea! Be stuck in the middle of the rock scramble in the rain would be incredibly dangerous. The hike was lovely - but not worth it if it is going to rain. I wish the skies would have been clearer so we could have had better views. We felt a sense of accomplishment when we finished and had a great time. We are 29 and 30 and in relatively good shape. We purposely tried to hurry and made it in 5 hours.

3  Thank MaegUT07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 May 2014

All the reviews are spot on - this is a great hike. But on a warm day we saw a ton of people heading up in the afternoon (as we were headed down) dressed in workout gear (shorts and a shirt) and carrying a small bottle of water. We felt a bit silly with our hydration packs, snacks, rain gear, first-aid kit, etc. About 3 PM the black clouds came rolling in with torrents of freezing cold rain, high winds and a 25 degree drop in the temperature. We missed it, but I felt for the dozens for folks up on the mountain and not prepared.

1  Thank George K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 May 2014

I came here on a weekend in mid-April, hoping not too many people would be heading out here yet since school is still in session and all.

We had heard it can get packed, so we aimed to get there early to ensure a parking spot and hopefully less people. The parking area wasn't too full but there were definitely people there already starting. I'd peg it at about 1/8 full when we arrived around 8:30am.

There was constantly people in front and behind us during the hike and we were either passing people or being passed. There were precious few moments when we could walk alone and enjoy the solitude. Even though were were one of the earlier ones, as the boulder scrambling came about, there was a little bit of a line (maybe 3-4 people in front you had to wait for). The Old Rag peak was large enough that we could find our own little area to take photos, but again, you have people milling around. I can see this hike getting very crowded if you come here late and I'd imagine the boulder scrambling line to get pretty long since some passes are narrow enough for one person at a time. If you are looking for quiet solitude, this isn't it. It does have some great views and is a good workout.

We got back to the parking lot around 1:30pm. On our return trip we saw masses of people starting their hike. So relieved we weren't doing this at the peak hour. The parking lot was also pretty darn full, with a handful of spots opening up from the people who arrived earlier in the morning and are starting to leave. Its a worthwhile hike but I have to reiterate--don't expect quiet solitude and GET THERE EARLY!

1  Thank Sweet P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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