Old Rag Trail

#1 of 140 trails in Shenandoah National Park

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

Old Rag Trail is an 7 mile round trip trail or 8.9 mile loop trail located near Sperryville, Virginia that features a river and is only recommended for serious hiker. The trail is primarily used for camping, hiking, rock climbing & walking and is accessible year-round.

Share your experience to help other people learn more about this trail:

Write ReviewUpload PhotosUpload Tracks

Tim Natoli (153)

10 Completed3 Reviews

Excellent day hike. would not recommend children. Plan your hike on a dry sunny day, rocks can get slick.

Jenn Majeski (151)

6 Completed3 Reviews

Favorite trail yet! Difficult - would not recommend it for groups with children

Rakesh Shah (56)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Difficult but it was worth it !!

Kinsey Plunkett (63)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Difficult but awesome hike! Got engaged on the top of the mountain!

Joe Pantaleo (57)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Incredible hike! First time doing it was today and I will definitely be back again soon! Will have to bring my rock climbing gear to test out some of the boulders there. I highly recommend this trail for any able bodied person!

Laura Zimmerman (253)

6 Completed6 Reviews

Amazing hike! Fantastic workout. Breathtaking views. Rock scrambles were a blast! (Physical agility and upper body strength are a must.) Started around 0900 on a Monday morning and, luckily, did not have to deal with the crowds everyone speaks of. We only ran into a few other couples/groups the entire time out there. Took us a little under 5 hours and that included time to explore the top and a snack break. Would absolutely do this one again and again.

Alicia Devero (807)

41 Completed18 Reviews

Old Rag Trail in VA is by far one of the most entertaining hikes I have ever done. To a great extent it is like one of those playgrounds for kids where they are allowed to hike up and slide down and go through tiny holes and do all those things we wished we were allowed to do ☺. It turns out that we no longer have to whish for it – it is enough to get a few friends together, pick a free weekend and set of for an adventure to the Shenandoah National Park.

Important! I am glad I read other reviews before I took my friends for this hike. The Old Rag trail is a loop and many hikers suggest going first to the left completing the hard part first and coming back down the carriage road. That’s exactly what we did and I have no regrets. At the very beginning we were gaining elevation pretty rapidly, but since the trail consists of many switchbacks we really didn’t feel that exhausted although the heat was hard to deal with. The first overlook gave us an idea of what should we expect going up and believe me we didn’t get disappointed at all. I have to admit that we all had already “a few” serious mountains and trails under our belts and the Old Rag trail was the best form of entertainment with the best views we could ever ask for. But, this is exactly when I should warn some of those who are planning on hiking this trail … UNPREPARED ☺ both physically and mentally ☺

We have hit the trail around 10:00 am and we didn’t come down until about 5:00 or 6:00 pm. We were not slow at all, but we took time to enjoy the views, take millions of pictures and I got extra points for making everyone laugh all the way through ☺ But everyone have to remember, that this trail is really demanding physically at times and requires serious acrobatic skills. There are parts where it is really hard to pull yourself up between two narrow rocks, or lift up you knee as high as your face or jump from one rock to another without a chance to detour because once you are on the rocks … you better keep going forward ☺

Coming down the trail at around 4:00 or 5:00 pm we passed by a couple with their teen son and we were asked by the woman how far it is to the top. Primo: at that time it is too far even for a good hiker. Secundo: none of them had a backpack, which indicated that they set off on this hike without water or food and a headlamp was only a wishful thinking on our part. Tertio: the woman was grasping for air, which suggested that any athletic exercise was not on her agenda in a very long time. So to make the long story short, this trail - although fun and entertaining, which you can see on the attached pictures - is really demanding physically and anyone who sets of for this hike should remember that it is graded 2 black diamonds for a reason. Obviously we all can do anything we set our minds on, but “reckless” should be removed from that equation ☺ But like I said, It is a great hike, the views are breath taking and I would do it again in a heartbeat ☺

Jonathan Morris (722)

11 Completed5 Reviews

Old Rag starts with about an hour and a half to two hours of straight walking through the woods, with tons of switchbacks and some modest but noticeable elevation gain. Then things get interesting. The rock scramble is intense and challenging, with lots of difficult boulders to climb and surmount. On a busy day, you will have to wait on lines to get through certain areas (probably the same people who took up all the spots in the jampacked parking lot), but if you don't mind being taken out of a serene environment, the time you spend with all the strangers waiting is strangely satisfying. You feel like you're in something together. When you get to the top, the summit is not obvious, but you can find it if you ask. It is marked with a very small pool atop a boulder, with a brick just sitting in the water. The way down is not nearly as interesting as the way up, and it's hard to head back the way you came on a busy day, because the boulders are challenging enough as it is without adding the element of forcing everyone else to wait while you pass through. But this is not really a major complaint, as the way up was better on almost every hike I've ever taken. I traveled down from PA to VA to do this hike, a trip of 4.5 hours each way. I did there and back in a single day, and I was wiped out for a week, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I'll never forget some of the challenges I had to go through to get to the top. Along with the views, they are etched on my mind.

Jennifer Gorman (340)

17 Completed9 Reviews

One if my all time favorites! Bring lots of water, some lunch, and your sense of adventure! Take the day and do the entire circuit, up the trail , across and over the boulders, then down the saddle trail to the fire road. The worst part about this trail is the fire road. It's really easy and gradual which is a nice cool down period after getting my heart pumping....but man is it a let down after the great trails and rock scramble you left behind! The only reason I don't suggest going to the summit and then back out the same way is the traffic. This spot gets some serious numbers on weekends etc. waiting for a group to come up a boulder you want to get down would be worse than the fire road! Only change I'll make to my next trip to old rag is a pair of halves as each time I have come I have scraped my hands up a bit...but I can be kinda klutzy!

Be prepared to use upper body strength on the rock scramble, you will use your arms to lift your body weight more than you normally do (ever) on a hike. Have fun!

Note: get there super early and miss the crowds on the weekends. We arrived at 530a last time and didn't see anyone until almost nine, and he was walking the opposite direction.

Jeff Cundith (349)

8 Completed2 Reviews

The driving directions were accurate and simple to follow. Arriving at 0730 on a Monday morning, there were only a few other cars in the parking lot. The ascent is challenging and highlighted what others have said about the impact of crowds. The trail looks like a trail in Yosemite with millions of feet passing through. There are multiple spots scrambling over the rocks where backups would occur with crowds. In short, go early or on a weekday. There is no water until you parallel Brokenback Run on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road on the way back to the car. Three liters of water is a good recommendation.

Support