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“Hike to Old Rag”

Old Rag Mountain Hike
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Manassas, Virginia
Level Contributor
331 reviews
84 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 109 helpful votes
“Hike to Old Rag”
Reviewed 17 June 2014

This is a long hike, around 8 or 9 miles. It's got a rock scramble that takes you through some pretty intense rock formations and some parts are really steep. Just be prepared with plenty of water. It's an excellent hike we do a couple of times a year with our family or the boy scouts.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
Thank Yorkiemom19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Philly
Level Contributor
350 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
“a classic with class”
Reviewed 15 June 2014

If you're a hiker you shouldn't visit The Shenandoah NP and not plan a well worth the trip visit to Old R. Shorter one way than the other, so you can mix and match to your desired amount of time, challenge, and weather. Stop by one of the Park visitor centers and they give you a helpful map, or for purists stop by a quality equipment provider in the region and buy the Trails Illustrated by Nat Geographic - there are great deals on amazon. I dont have the AT maps through the region so I dont know if this is covered there, but there are books for the park (Falcon series comes to mind) and AMC books in which you'll find it, including one which highlights all the side trails (caution: pricey if you're doing just this loop). Suggest an early start due to the popularity of this trail and parking lots get busy. Fell just below my 'Excellent' rating because there's really better views from Skyline road at time, especially in the fall

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
Thank HikingTom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
86 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Amazing Hiking Experience”
Reviewed 28 May 2014

Bring your 'A' Game, as this is one of the most popular hikes in the mid-Atlantic Region for a reason!
The circuit is a full 9 mile hike that takes you up the front side (3.8) then down the backside (5.2) of the mountain. There are steep hiking parts, followed by more intense rock climbing portions, better know as rock scrambles, towards the summit (3,284 Ft).
There are majestic panoramic views throughout, so be sure to stop and enjoy. You'll be surrounded by wildlife so keep your eyes open as my girlfriend and I saw a black bear cub and multiple peregrines flying around the summit.
The parking lot fills up quickly, so get there early and to avoid the crowds and heat. You'll find lines form on the mountain when you get close to the steep portions and rock scrambles.
I would also recommend a camel back with at least 2 liters of water and some trail mix/granola bars as well.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
Thank BCon17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level Contributor
102 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 151 helpful votes
“Rock Scramble is fun”
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.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
7 Thank Aurora09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richardson, Texas
Level Contributor
55 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“The Bottom-line”
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:

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

IS IT DOABLE:
- 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.

BEST TIME TO GO:
- 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).

WHOM TO GO WITH:
- 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.

WHAT TO & NOT TO PACK:
- 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.

FACILITIES:
- 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.

THE BOTTOM-LINE:
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.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
7 Thank DocMoMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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