|View from the summit|
Old Rag is Shenandoah's "most popular and most dangerous hike" according to the National Park Service website. There's even a prominently placed safety video to warn hikers of its difficulty.
All I know is that it's my all-time favorite hike.
The circuit is advertised as being 8 miles from the trail head, but including the walk from the parking area, you'll cover 9.25 miles. When you reach the trail, you'll see a sign advising hikers to allow 5 1/2 hours to complete it. That always startles me.
|The trail starts off benignly|
|Views like this abound. And see? It's not unrelenting uphill the whole way.|
It's a significant, but not drastically steep climb with lots of rock scrambling to challenge your inner child.
|Obligatory hold-up-the-boulder pic|
|Getting into the rock scrambling section|
|Another lovely view on the way to the true summit|
|The inevitable bottleneck. Today wasn't bad, we waited about 15 minutes.|
|Summit photo. Hurry up, the freezing rain is starting!|
|Elevation profile. It took us 2 hours 55 minutes, climbing at a good clip and running the final 5 miles.|
If you live anywhere near Shenandoah National Park, you owe it to yourself to hike Old Rag Mountain this fall. All the details you could ever want can be found here.
My advice: You'll want both hands free, so use a hydration pack rather than a water bottle. Bring some dried fruit for calories. Go on a weekday or get there early.