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Sunday, July 20, 2014

#28 - Old Rag Mountain

For a day hike in Virginia, it just doesn't get much better than Old Rag Mountain (named for the Old Rag Granite formed roughly one billion years ago.) Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Shenandoah National Park, this 9 mile circuit, part hike, part rock scramble, is a complete workout that leaves you feeling wonderful, exhausted, sore, and wondering if you should ever do it again! Ultimately, you can't help but love it, and the experience stays with you for days after your hike is over.

With all of my four kids home, a group of us headed out on Wednesday. A couple of storms had blown through earlier in the week leaving lower temps, lower humidity, and being mid-week; smaller crowds. The result was nothing short of fabulous!

One of 400-500 Black Bear in Shenandoah National Park
We had "bearly" got started, less than 1/4 mile in, when we came across a black bear who had peered out from the brush to give us a good look. We stopped to admire it for a moment or two, then moved along knowing we had a long adventure ahead of us.

With the summit at 3,291feet, there is only one way to go, so up we climbed, switchback after switchback up the side of the mountain.

Lower Half of Old Rag

Lower Half of Old Rag
After about 1.5 miles, the traditional switchbacks transition to a one mile rock scramble to the summit. Here, arms, legs, feet, butt, hands, knees and elbows are used to traverse the giant rocks leading to the summit.

Exhausted from scrambling, Tim cleared a path for us to get by!

It is an incredibly challenging hike, as you remove camelbacks to squeeze through crevices, attempt to find workarounds so as to not pull yourself up yet another large rock, turning a corner just to find another large climb looms ahead.

What?? We're not done??
The payoff is the beautiful views of Shenandoah National Park to one side, the valleys leading to farms and small towns on the other. With a need to hydrate, the rocks provide a perfect place to stop and take in the surroundings.

Alas, you make it to the summit! Spectacular views, beautiful sunshine, a slight breeze on the northwest side to keep you cool!


We split up from here. Half to scramble back down, half to finish the 9 mile circuit. Fun, beautiful, enjoyable regardless which you pick; though each muscle will remind you this was no regular day hike.

It's not often I get to hike with all four of my children - and friends to boot! It made for a hike I'll never forget!

National Geographic lists Old Rag Mountain as one of their top Day Hikes in America's National Parks.  Check out the article at:

Keep hiking, friends! And if you want a full day challenge, go visit Old Rag!


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