One of the most popular and most dangerous hikes in the mid-Atlantic region is Old Rag Mountain Loop that offers different activities. This trail is located near Syria, Virginia and is popular for the challenges it offers. The distance of the trail is 9.1 miles and its elevation gain is 2,450 feet. The trail is rated as difficult and you need to be physically fit if you want to hike it.
To park your vehicle you need to go to the parking spot at Old Rag Mountain parking lot at Nethers Road. You must be careful and not park on the shoulder of the road because in such a case your car will be towed. Even though there is no parking fee you are still required to have a Shenandoah National Park permit. As a lot of hikers come every day, you need to go early in the morning to get a nice parking space.
The trail begins from the older parking lot which was once used as a parking lot but not anymore. It’s at 0.8 miles distance from the new parking lot. If you want to use a bathroom you can use it here and you won’t find them anywhere else along the trail.
You will have to follow the ridge trail for two-miles that leads you into a forested section. You will have to climb switchback trails that are a bit challenging but fun at the same time.
Then, you will encounter gigantic granite boulders that you will have to scramble. You will have to climb over, between, and under these rocks and that’s the real fun. You must have fair upper body strength if you want to tackle this part with ease.
When you reach the top after a tough climb takes some time to appreciate the beauty around you. You will get a 360-degree view of the large area of Shenandoah National Park.
Planning your trip
The first thing you need to be sure of is whether or not you are physically fit to hike the trail. The hike is extremely difficult and you need sufficient strength to climb across, under, and between the giant rocks.
One of the most common problems that hikers face while hiking Old Rag Mountain Loop is dehydration so take enough water with you to avoid the problem.
The recommended amount is 2 quarts of water per person. Also, bring snacks with you that have high levels of protein and salt. It will give you energy and prevent dizziness. Most of the injuries occur when the hikers are tired.
Make sure your footwear is suitable for such a hike. You need sturdy shoes that won’t slip and also won’t hurt.
Before you plan your hike you need to keep an eye on the weather as well. Avoid going in icy or wet conditions.
The best practice is to always stay on the trail. This is important for your safety as well as to protect the plants that grow there.