“Enduring” Old Rag would be a better fit for a title. This 9 mile trek is a doozy.
To start off the list of considerations prior to hiking this trail, be aware that there is little to no cell service within a 10-15 mile radius of the trailhead. Download your maps and entertainment before heading into the park. I camped in my car at an old gas station on Ft Valley Road, about a 10 minute drive from Old Rag, and did not plan for the lack of activities before sundown. Don’t forget a portable phone charger like I did either.
If you’re hiking before sunrise, know that the trail will be empty but also DARK. I had a red light headlamp but it didn’t seem to help as much as a regular flashlight. Black bears are relatively common in the area as well so remember to make lots of noise on the trail to deter them from approaching. The deer don’t seem to be as bothered by clapping or attempts at scaring, and I almost had one walk directly up to me. Take as many pictures of wildlife as you desire, but remember they are wild and do not approach or touch them.
Pack enough snacks for a 5-8 hour day and LOTS of water. Dehydration is no joke on this hike. The first section is all uphill switch backs that turn into rock scrambles and rock climbs. I was not as prepared for the climbing part. There are boulders to shimmy up, over, under, and in-between. You thankfully don’t encounter anymore rocks after the summit other than the rock stairs as you descend the mountain. To avoid scraping skin, wear thick pants that you can easily maneuver in. I went with the women’s Carhartt leggings. Opt for durable hiking boots over running shoes for grip.
It is stated online that you will need to purchase a $30 Shenandoah Nat. Park pass AND an Old Rag Day pass ($1) prior to entering the park or you will be turned away. I arrived at 4:00 AM on a Thursday and was never approached or asked to show a ticket, but I had them just in case. The park pass is good for 7 days, and well worth it if you’re going to be staying in the area for a while. Don’t make the mistake I did and have your start date the day of your hike if you’re planning on camping inside the park the day before. *Facepalm* Take as a rage of the pass and your Skyline Drive and other parts of this beautiful park in the Shenandoah Valley.
After sweating and cursing your way to the summit and back down, head on over to one of the breweries, wineries, or distilleries in the area. I stopped at Little Washington Winery and Brewery just north of Sperryville and sipped a flight while overlooking the mountain I just tackled with pride.
As always, keep up with my adventures on Instagram @dancinggibby or subscribe to receive emails when a new blog post drops.
Leave a Reply