Old Rag Mountain
TRAIL DISTANCE - 7 miles
TYPE - Day Hike
If you have ever heard of Old Rag Mountain, then you know that it is one of the most popular hikes in the Mid-Atlantic Region. To avoid the crowds, and the bottlenecks that come along with that, we decided to get a very early start to this hike. The mile long rock scramble has some very tight spots that slow down even the experienced climbers, so we wanted to hike those sections before it got busy so we didn't have to wait.
We have a 5.5 hour drive to the upper parking
lot at Old Rag. Our plan was to arrive there late evening on Sunday, sleep
in the car, and then get an early start on Monday morning (Columbus Day).
We arrived to a parking lot full of emergency vehicles and a lot of lights.
We found out that there was currently a rescue in progress. While speaking
with some of the rescue personnel, we could tell that we were kind of
being "sized up". We didn't mind, we have heard some of the
horror stories of inexperienced and unprepared hikers thinking that hiking
Old Rag is like a walk in the park. It is far from that, and we knew it.
We assured the rescue personnel that even though we had never hiked Old
Rag before, and that we were aware of the dangers and knew what we were
We attempted to get some sleep after the rescue was completed. Neither of us got too much sleep! We got up at zero dark thirty, and were on the trail with our headlamps on. There were a few other vehicles in the upper parking lot, but we saw no hikers at all until we were on the summit. The hike was awesome! The hike up to the beginning of the rock scramble was fairly uneventful, but once we started climbing on the rocks, that's when the real fun began! After enjoying the awesome views at the summit, we hiked the Weakly Hollow Fire Road back to our vehicle.
You need to be in shape for this one, and leave the flip flops at home. You also must have a good sense of balance and upper body strength. And you MUST bring your camera!
Tips for hiking Old Rag
Go early, avoid the crowds. The lower parking lot fills up by 9:00-10:00am. And it is a HUGE lot (I think it holds over 200 vehicles).
Bring all of the essentials, but use a low profile day pack. You will be taking it off a lot if you don't. Some of the rock scrambles involve squeezing through some tight areas.
Don't hike Old Rag in the rain. Some of those rocks are slippery even when dry.
If you use trekking poles, make sure you can attach them to your pack at the beginning of the rock scramble. You will need both hands for climbing.
Leave Fido at home. Pets are not allowed on Old Rag.
Please be prepared and know what you are
getting yourself in to. This is NOT an easy hike.