Known for its 360-degree views and fun rock scrambling, Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park is a rewarding hike for all – and has been ranked among the top 25 hikes in the world! It is a popular family hike, although smaller children and shorter adults may need assistance when navigating the rocky scramble sections. Once you’ve achieved the summit, it’s easy to see why this is one of the top destinations in Shenandoah National Park. Here’s what you’ll need to know to hike Old Rag Mountain with kids, as well as several other favorite family-friendly walks and hikes in this beautiful park, just 75 miles from Washington, DC.
Important to Know:
Hikers should be in good physical condition to attempt Old Rag. It’s important to carry microspikes or traction coil devices for your hiking boots. You may encounter some icy or snow-covered areas, depending on the season.
There is significant elevation gain on this hike and a strenuous rock scramble that will require good upper-body strength.
Bring along a map, as there are several different ways to hike Old Rag Mountain. Pick the one you’d like to do and then print or download the map to have it with you while hiking.
With the elevation and the rock scrambling, the hike will be easier if you pack lightly. Consider bringing a fanny pack instead of backpack to maneuver more easily. Be sure, though, to pack plenty of food and water.
It’s easier to attempt the rock scramble section when the trail isn’t as crowded. Consider hiking on a weekday as opposed to a weekend.
How to Get to Old Rag Mountain
From Sperryville: From Route 211, turn onto Route 522 and go south for 0.8 mile. Take a right on Route 231, go 8 miles, turn right onto Route 601 and follows signs to Old Rag parking lot.
From Madison: From Route 29 Business, turn onto Route 231 and go 12.8 miles. Take a left onto Route 602 and follow signs for the Old Rag Parking Lot.
Sperryville to Berry Hollow Parking Lot: Take Route 231 South, then turn right onto Route 643. Take a right on Weakley Hollow Road. Follow this for 4.5 miles to the parking lot. Parking is limited.
Madison to Berry Hollow Parking Lot: Take Route 231 North, then turn left onto Route 670. Take a right onto Route 643. Continue straight onto Weakley Hollow road. Go past the Whiteoak Canyon parking lot to the Berry Hollow parking lot. Parking is limited.
Options for Old Rag Mountain Hiking
Old Rag Circuit
Distance: 9.4-mile circuit hike
Difficulty: Very strenuous
Time: 7.5 hours
Elevation gain: 2,348 feet
- Take the blue-blazed Ridge Trail from the Old Rag parking lot.
- Continue across the rock scramble long the Ridge Trail, then descend on the blue-blazed Saddle Trail. This becomes a fire road after the Old Rag Shelter.
- When you come to the T-intersection, turn right, then immediately right again at the fork onto the yellow-blazed Weakley Hollow Fire Road.
- Turn right onto the Ridge Access Trail. Turn left onto the Ridge Trail and return to your starting point.
Old Rag Summit via Berry Hollow
Time: 6 hours, 15 minutes
Elevation gain: 1,760 feet
From the trailhead at the Berry Hollow parking lot, hike Berry Hollow Road 0.8 mile to Old Rag Fire Road. Turn right and continue 0.4 mile to the Old Rag Shelter. Turn left onto the Saddle Trail. Hike 1.6 more miles to the summit. If you return to the parking lot via this same route, you will avoid the Ridge Trail rock scramble.
What Is the Rock Scramble Like on Old Rag Mountain?
At about the 2.8-mile mark, you’ll start the rocky scramble portion of the hike. Expect about a mile of climbing, pulling, scrambling and gripping, best for older children. You’ll squeeze through tight passageways and slide down rocks, then use your upper-body strength to pull yourself up onto boulders. As you near the summit, there’s a rock staircase that goes straight through a boulder – usually a huge hit with the kids!
What Are Some Other Family-Friendly Hikes in Shenandoah National Park?
Limberlost Track Trail
This 1.3-mile loop is a favorite of all visitors – all ages and abilities. You’ll trace a gentle trail through mountain laurel, oaks and ferns, keeping an eye out for wildlife as you go.
Blackrock Summit Track Trail
This 1-mile loop has a 175-foot elevation gain to a rocky talus slope. Once you’re at the top, you’ll have outstanding vies of the Shenandoah Valley. Along the way, you’ll walk along a portion of the famous Appalachian Trail, the 2,200-mile trail from Georgia to Maine.
Fox Hollow Track Trail
This 1.2-mile loop takes about an hour and is rated “easy.” It’s a wonderful walk in the woods, along which you’ll see evidence of area residents before the park’s creation in 1935. Notice the piles of stones that the Fox family used when they were clearing land for farming, and for the pretty purple vinca vines in the spring.
Tanners Ridge Road
Another hike that takes you through a former homestead, this 2.1-mile, roundtrip hike leaves from the Milam Gap parking lot. Go north along the AT through the homestead to the intersection with Tanners Ridge Road, then turn around.
This 1.6-mile roundtrip hike is ranked “easy” and takes you to a viewpoint over the Shenandoah Valley, Massanutten Mountain and beyond. From the Stony Man parking lot, you’ll take the Appalachian Trail for a bit until the blue-blazed Stony Man Trail. Follow this to the summit.
Lands Run Falls
This short 1.3-mile, roundtrip hike takes you down a fire road to a series of small waterfalls that descend about 80 feet into a gorge. You’ll find more water in the springtime than later in the summer or fall if it has been dry.