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gem icon Old Rag Summit [Suggest Edits]

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The journey to Old Rag is one of the most popular in the mid-Atlantic, and from the summit, it’s easy to see why. Intrepid runners who make their way to the craggy top are greeted with sweeping vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. The summit of this mountain is almost entirely “bald” meaning that there is little vegetation, a trait that only enhances the incredible views. There aren’t many peaks in Shenandoah that have a high enough elevation or a rocky enough top to achieve this level of baldness, and the ability to catch a cool breeze and enjoy unobstructed views is a rare treat.

The renown of the summit makes this an incredibly popular spot, and it’s not likely that you’ll find much solitude out here. The route is a nine-mile circuit to the top, and with a strenuous ascent and descent, so you may find the crowds a bit reassuring. There are several rock scrambles that will need to be overcome on the way, and visitors will want to be prepared with proper equipment. Setting out to reach the summit of Old Rag should be taken seriously, as more search and rescue teams are deployed to this area than any other in the park annually.

While you’re enjoying the circuit run, you may want to make a side trip to Byrd’s Nest #1, one of many shelters constructed in the area by senator Harry Byrd. These shelters are scenic spots to take a break or enjoy a snack or picnic.

With so many visitors making their way to Old Rag, it’s requested that runners are especially courteous of each other, and strictly adhere to Leave No Trace principles.

Half-Day Run: A long, technical, and strenuous run is required to reach this gem, so please assess your skills before setting out. There are several ways to reach the summit ranging from the longer Old Rag Loop starting from the Old Rag parking lot. A shorter option is to take the Berry Hollow Fire Road to the Saddle Trail for a shorter out and back option.

Gem Type: Viewpoint

Shared by:
Mikhaila Redovian

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Jun 5, 2021
Wendy Klinke
Bring more water with electrolytes, extra extra snacks
Dec 2, 2016
Matt H

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The instructions here have not been updated since the new parking lot was made. Very straightforward, follow signs to the new parking lot / trailhead and the trailhead is just past the ranger station.
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Shared by Mikhaila Redovian on May 20, 2016. All Page Views: 6,470. Last Month: 66.