Last Saturday was a beautiful day – sunny and the temperatures were in the mid-50s – so a couple of my friends and I decided to hike Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park.

If you’ve ever hiked this mountain, the thrill and challenge comes from the nearly mile long boulders that you have to jump over, crawl under and climb. This is a 9.1 mile long loop. Navigating the boulders makes this a medium hike but the rest of the trail is quite decent. I start on the Ridge Trail, which is a gradual three-mile climb. Then you get to the one mile long rock scramble. Next, there’s a small cave to crawl and climb through before coming to a breathtaking view. There are a couple more boulders to hop across before you arrive at the summit. Finding a sitting spot at the summit is a little like choosing your own adventure. There are multiple little paths that lead to different areas. Regardless of where you are, you’ll have the most amazing views around you. If you want a 360 degree view, you can climb on top of a few more boulders. The view is breathtaking and truly the right reward for the hard work you put it in to get to the summit!

To make your way down, you just have to follow the Ridge Trail to the Saddle Trail and then the Weakly Hollow Fire Road. Because the winds were gusting at the summit, we cut our time short at the top and stopped to eat lunch at Byrd’s Nest Shelter. It’s a day use area with a picnic table. There are no bathrooms at this shelter. I’ve never done this but Hiking Upwards does provide information on how to get to Balance Rock, near Byrd’s Nest Shelter, for some light (or additional) rock scrambling.

If you’d rather skip the giant rocks, you can always do an in and out hike through the descent route. If you opt to do this, this will become a 10.4 mile hike.

Of course, this would not be a Hiking Misadventure blog post without a story of something going awry! On our way to Old Rag, we stopped at Wegmans. After I came back to the car, I realized I’d lost my cellphone. The cashiers didn’t see a phone and I didn’t leave it where I was sitting… I came back to the car dejected but ready to move on with my day! However, my friend was persistent. She searched inside the car and found the phone had simply slipped under my car seat. As far as misadventures go, this was a mild one and it all ended well!

Remember to check out the videos and additional pictures from the hike on my YouTube channel – Hiking Misadventures!

Written by Nalini

I love adventures that take me away from the hum drum of my regular life! Mine are usually filled with funny stories of common sense mistakes and miscalculations and involve the open roads, getting dirty, sleeping in tents and sweating and panting my way to the top of mountain peaks.

4 comments

  1. Nice to connect with you again. I love Old Rag. Probably climbed it at least half a dozen times. Love the boulders the best. My grandson has run up and down it several times. My parents ashes have been sprinkled there. I look forward to following your summer adventures (or should I say misadventures?).

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    1. Laura, it’s so great to hear from you! Old Rag has become sort of an annual tradition for me. It’s such a fun hike with so much stuff to do. Thanks for supporting the blog! I’m hoping to keep the misadventures down but my adventures are never without a few epic ones. 🙂 Hugs.

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  2. Glad you sent me a notice that you were blogging again. Love to hear of your adventures. I followed your AT blog and got friends and a family member to also read your blog then. You have done so much hiking since I saw you in White Oak. My husband and i have moved to North Bend, WA so if you ever want to hike Rattlesnake Mt. where we live or Mt. Si, etc. let us know. We have an extra bedroom!

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    1. Hi Ellen! So good to hear from you. When I was on the AT, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed blogging. I’m excited to be returning to it and to connect with old friends! Wow – Washington! I’d love to hear about what took you there. We’re still figuring out our route but will definitely let you know if we come by so we can at least grab a cup of coffee. Hope all is well with you!

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