Old Rag is extremely popular among D.C. area hikers – new and experienced! The popularity of this hike is well-earned not just because of the nearly mile long boulders that require jumping, crawling and even climbing, but also because of the many beautiful views the hike offers.
I’ve hiked this mountain many times over the years in all seasons and I’d say fall is the best time to take in the vast beauty all around this trail. Old Rag is a 9.1 mile loop hike (you can make it a 10.4 in and out hike if you want to skip the boulders). To hike the loop, I’d recommend starting on the Ridge Trail, which gradually climbs over three miles. Next is the rock scramble across various boulders and the first set of amazing views begin shortly after. Hop across the last set of boulders before arriving at the summit of Old Rag. The breathtaking views all around is truly the reward for the hard work of getting here. Hikers following the loop take the Ridge Trail to the Saddle Trail and then the Weakly Hollow Fire Road back to the parking lot.
I decided to hike Old Rag on Saturday with some friends because it was a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 50’s. By the time we made it to the summit, however, the winds were gusting and it was much cooler than we anticipated. So, 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. If you’re interested in additional rock scrambling, Balance Rock near the Byrd’s Nest Shelter is a short side trip.
Is Old Rag on your list? If you’re new (or experienced) hiker and have questions about the hike, feel free to send me a note!