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!