This loop is totally worth it, but make sure you are ready for a lot of people because this is so close to a bunch of cities it gets a ton of traffic even on less-than-ideal days. Do not let this deter you, as this is a classic run. Just be sure to get an early start.
IMPORTANT: Shenandoah now requires pre-purchased tickets to access any part of this trail in addition to the park pass. You CANNOT purchase day-of tickets in the parking lot!
This is a popular rock climbing spot. Do not throw things off of the cliffs.
Check out Mountain Project's Shennendoah National Park climbing beta
if you're interested in climbing in the park.
Big backpacks can be cumbersome. The NPS recommends a fanny pack, but a small backpack would be fine. Squeezing through those boulders might just be a tad bit harder.
Park at the Old Rag parking lot and pay the Park fee (see the Restrictions
notes). Ridge Trail
is the most popular way to get to the top of Old Rag. It is steep, long and requires a lot of rock scrambling. If you get hurt here it can take hours to be rescued so only do this run if you are prepared.
Follow the road about 0.8 miles to the trailhead, which should be marked in blue. If you continue straight, you'll go onto Weakley Hollow Fire Road
, which can be taken to do this loop in the opposite direction. To complete this loop as mapped, turn left onto Ridge Trail
, which starts as a fairly gradual uphill to the first viewpoint, in approximately two miles. From here, the trail becomes rockier until the second viewpoint. After this, the run quickly turns into more of a climb. There are often tight passages between rocks and stone staircases. If your backpack is too big it might require you to remove it in order to squeeze through the rocks.
After another mile, you'll reach the summit, which is especially fantastic in the fall. There can be rock climbers around the summit, so please do not throw things off the cliffs.
After enjoying the view, head down the southwestern side of the mountain via the various staircases leading to a day-use shelter called Byrd's Nest.
Head down the stone stairs for another mile or so. From there, you'll reach Old Rag day-use shelter which has an outhouse you can use. Continue down the rest of the way until you reach an intersection with Berry Hollow Fire Road
and Weakley Hollow Fire Road
Turn right and head down the yellow-marked Weakley Hollow Fire Road
. You'll pass a few trails on your left but just stay straight. On your way back, you'll see the Ridge Trail
off to your right and eventually, you'll be back at your car!
You are likely to see deer and other wildlife, as well as a steady profusion of wildflowers during the spring, summer, and fall. Watch for changes in vegetation as you gain altitude.