Old Rag Mountain Trail in Virginia

Located near Syria, Virginia, the Old Rag mountain trail is one of the most challenging yet popular trails. This Shenandoah based mountain trail is usually busy with people flocking from all over the world. Furthermore, it is partially paved with wildlife, and wildflowers also available.


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The address for this trail is Old Rag Mountain, Robertson, VA 22743, USA. This location is right inside the Shenandoah national park. The beautiful park is situated in the state of Virginia. It expands through the Blue Ridge mountains. The Old Rag mountain trail is one of the most preferred among the many trails hosted by Shenandoah national park.


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Many people visiting this dangerous park use the Eastern boundary to gain entrance. So, how do they get there? They start from Sperryville, Route 211. From there, they took Route 522 and headed South, traveling for 8 miles.

Then, they took Route 231, which is on your right turn. Again, they went for another 8 miles ahead. Going forward, they turned right back into Route 601. From there, getting to their destination was as simple as following the signs to the parking area, which is only 3 miles ahead. That is the first option you may consider to get to the Old Rag mountain trail with ease. (map link)

Here is the other option you have; from Route 29 Business (Madison), take route 231. You will travel 12.8 miles then take a left turn. You will find yourself on Route 602. From there, you will be directed by road signs to the parking area. Be sure to cover about 3 miles to the parking. (map link)


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The Old Rag mountain trail is considered to be hard and dangerous. That is why it is advisable only to attempt hiking if you are suitable and fit enough. The difficulty of any trail can be looked at from different angles. The easiest way to tell how difficult a hiking trail is by gauging the amount of time most climbers use to get to the top.

The Old Rag mountain is said to be one of the most difficult trails in the world. The level of difficulty is equated to danger, making it a security threat. It takes lifesavers more time than usual to get to places of casualty. This is proof of how hard this mountain trail is.

The Old Rag mountain has a rocky summit. Also, it is famous for its challenging terrain. The terrain is made up of bare rocks stretching out long. This makes it even harder for hiking lovers.

Hiking lovers that have been here before have positively reviewed the trail but commented on the trail’s difficulty. In an online review, one hiking enthusiast said the hike is touch and will make you feel something in your thighs and calves. This is especially so as you walk back down the trail.

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Imagine spending 6 to 8 hours on the loop. That is how hard the Old Rag rock scrambles can get. But, isn’t it amazing how the feeling of achievement engulfs you immediately you get to the top of the summit having accomplished a difficult mission? Yes, it is. So be sure to feel accomplished once you are done with the daunting task of getting to the summit of the great old Rag mountain.

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The level of Old Rag mountain’s difficulty calls for tough and competitive personalities. Rising to the summit requires internal toughness and endurance. Therefore, do not forget to carry snacks and water to stay energized and hydrated.


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The Old Rag mountain trail is 8.6 miles long. In terms of elevation gain, it is 2,417 feet high. That is why it will take you roughly eight hours to complete the loop.

Now, speed is measured with distance over time. Meaning, you may spend more time walking because of the presence of switchbacks. These switchbacks increase the distance you would have covered if the trail was just straight.

The same switchbacks make hiking on this mountain trail so challenging and enjoyable. Being a loop, the trail allows you to get to the top and come back via another route. Coming back down is quite longer than ascending to the top. It is also less steep and lands you on a fire trail.

So, how will you manage to cover the 8.6 miles distance?

First of all, to get to the original parking area, you will cover almost one mile. Once that is covered, you will take a left turn to the Ridge trail. At this point, you will be remaining with close to 7.6 miles to cover.

From the start of the Ridge trail, your next stop will be the boulder scramble section. Between these two trail marks is a two-mile rise, marred with switchbacks. The stretch is challenging but full of fun.

To ensure you are on the right track, look out for blue trail blazes. The blazes offer direction and current location. For the rest of the 5.6 miles, you will be going around, forth and back. Be competitive and ensure you persevere to the end. But, be warned of false summits. Don’t be deceived; keep hiking until you are done with your 8.6 miles length trail.

Hiking Tips

Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities you can get involved in. For that reason, you need hacks to make your experience the best. So, what tips should you carry along with you to the Old Rag mountain? 

To begin with, start, pick up, and end up in the right place. By now, you know you will be covering 8.6 miles and ascending a high of 2,417 miles. Going too fast may get you tired along the way even before you reach the summit. Therefore, start slowly and hike to the summit.

Another tip to remember is the weather. Weather should be top on your checklist. Rainy or sunny weather will work to your disadvantage. As much as you have no control over the weather of the day, at least it will inform your dressing. Dressing right for the weather will help you hike with fewer challenges. It will also protect you from unnecessary illnesses.

Another tip is carrying an emergency device. A good example is the SPOT tracker. This will come into play in case something happens along the way. Or better yet, you may inform someone of the place you will be. The person should not be accompanying you for the hike so that in case something happens, he/she can call out for help.

Additionally, ensure you wear the right shoes, socks, or boots. Do not litter everywhere but take care of the environment. Also, carry all you need and only use familiar routes. Or, you may familiarize yourself with the place before the actual visit.

Things to be aware of

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The Old Rag mountain trail is not for the faint-hearted. If you are not physically fit, do not dare attempt this challenge. The repercussions are two. One is, you either get out of shape after only a few miles or get hurt. If you do, then be careful. The trail exposes you to a degree of danger by providing some risky and challenging areas. Getting grippy shoes and gloves will also help you while on the rocks. The rocks are slippery. Therefore, you cannot risk wearing just any other type of shoes.

Weather timing is also essential. Around February, it is with minor traffic of people and quite warm. It is probably the best time to visit this place. By now, you are aware of how tiring and draining this mountain trail is. Therefore, ensure you carry along food and water to refuel your body as you do the 9-mile challenge.


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There are many things you can do while at the Old Rag mountain or nearby. The first and obvious activity you may get involved in is hiking. It is challenging and draining, but with the right strategy, you may rise to the summit.

Also, there are waterfalls available for you to cool off before proceeding with your journey. Fishing is another good thing to do at the Old Rag mountain trail. Two Rivers are offering a perfect opportunity for fishing. The two are the Robinson River (Catch-N-Pay Pond) and the Rose River. It is fun and gives you a feeling of accomplishment once you are done. Be sure to carry home one or two fish.

Horse riding is another thing to do while on this famous mountain trail. Most nature trails are accompanied with stables. From here, lives horses ready to take you for a ride. Do not miss out on horse riding because it is so much fun. If you are good at horse riding, then you and your friends may be involved in this activity.

Nearby Horse Riding Service

Cycling is also a good activity you may be involved in. Bike racing is an option for you if you are a good biker. But, as you do so, be mindful of your security and that of others too.

What you can see

The Old Rag mountain trail has myriads of things to see. These are waterfalls and free-flowing streams of water to see. Also, beautiful trees and other vegetation are available for your eyes to see.

The rocks are also a good view, and the climax is getting to the top of the summit. From the top, there is a beautiful 360° view of the surrounding environment.

That is not all. The Old Rag mountain trail has a lot more to offer. There are historical sites present also. You may or may not choose to view everything this great mountain trail has to offer because they are just too many.

Places to eat

It is assumed world over by many perceptions that you have not been to a place until you have tasted the place’s cuisine. That is why for you to raise a claim that you were once in the Old Rag mountain, you have to taste their food. So, which places do you need to go and eat from?

Some of the best eateries in and around Old Rag mountain include Three Blacksmiths, Triple Crown BBQ, Headmasters Pub, and Rappahannock Pizza

Mind you; those are not the only places to eat from around the Old Rag mountain. Others include The Valley Cork, Moonshadows Restaurant, Camino Real, Before & After, Skyland Dining Room, and the New Market Taproom.

All these eateries have been well-reviewed online. Therefore, they are worth your time, money, and taste. Be sure to be served as the best local cuisines.

Places to stay

Well, you may find the Old Rag mountain so addictive. You are allowed to stay longer. The big question is, where do you stay?

Once upon a mountain, Shadow mountain escape, and Hotel Laurance are some of the places you may stay in. All these hotels have five-star ratings. Therefore, you should expect the best hospitality service during your stay, although they are not the only hotels available.

Others include Skyline Vineyard Inn, Woodruff House, and the South Court Inn. All these are options to consider when planning for a trip to Old Rag mountain.

Airbnb: Recommended Places

Nearby Hiking Spots

Some of the hiking spots around this mountain trail include; George Mason’s Gunston, Burke Lake Park’s, Scott’s Run, Buck Ridge Trail, which is 40 miles running from North to South, and the Great Falls National Park.


The Old Rag mountain trail is a severe challenge calling for determined hiking enthusiasts. With will and hard work, you cannot get to the summit of this famous mountain. Although it is safer for you if you follow the precautions highlighted in this article. Be cautious about getting to your destination safely. In addition to hiking, the 8.6-mile trail gives you a chance to do other activities like cycling and fishing. Therefore be sure to have a complete hiking experience. It is even more fun if your friends accompany you. Enjoy your hike!


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