The Old Rag Trail Loop is 8.6 miles and climbs 2,417 feet with stunning views of Virginia. As referenced from alltrails.com, and my experience there, here is a description of what to expect!
This hike is one of the most popular in Shenandoah National Park. Although it is challenging, with steep grades and a section of hiking where you have to also use your hands called a ‘rock scramble’, there are switchbacks that ensure you aren’t hiking straight up the mountain. The accent is a vigorous two-mile hike which is a nice contrast to the four-mile descent which you can walk easily. This trek begins with a one-mile walk up to the original Old Rag parking area then, take a left onto Ridge Trail and get excited!
You’ll be going up, down, in between, around and underneath granite boulders throughout the ‘scramble’; be sure to keep your eyes open for the blue trail blazes, they can be in the strangest spots. Hiking Old Rag Mountain is a great opportunity to conquer a fear of heights as you will be jumping over crevasses and looking out over gorgeous vistas. When you think you have reached the top, you haven’t! This mountain is known for its false summits making it a scenic trail. Keep going, it’s worth it!
The actual summit is marked by a brown elevation sign and it is the perfect place to stop for lunch, set up on a rock with a 360 view and enjoy! Then it is time for the descent down Saddle Trail, get ready for some rock hopping past Byrds Nest Shelter and Old Rag Shelter; you’ll come to a crossroad, stay to the right and take Weakley Hollow Fire Road. While this four-mile trek back to the parking lot can feel long, it is filled with lush nature and a chance at wild-life sightings. At the end of your hike, you’ll see Brokenback Run that leads into the Hughes River, and you’ll be reminded why it is called Shenandoah, truly a river through the spruces. When you complete this hike you’ll feel invigorated and refreshed, and if you live in Washington D.C., ready to return to city life.