Old Rag Mountain is one of the harder climbs/hikes in Shenandoah National Park. It is a noteworthy class 3 climb towards the top which can be either heavenly or hellish depending on your feelings towards exposed hands-and-feet scrambling.

Getting to the summit of Old Rag is an adventure
Day: 10
Miles: 1,535

The first part of the day was filled with very easy hikes along the skyline trail of Shenandoah National Park. My sunset would be a different story! I was well aware of Old Rag Mountain's reputation for being a brutal but short hike and I was well prepared to stay out after dark. At first I thought about not hiking it in lieu of other summits but I am so glad that I did! The scramble was just too much fun to miss out!

A word on "scrambles". A true scramble is the halfway point between hiking and climbing. It is a bit of a quagmire because it is usually means that it is not steep enough for ropes and gear but steep enough to get your heart racing at times. It is the type of stuff that your mother would probably say, "you better get down from there!!!" For people who have never done a scramble, this hike might not be fun for you. I've done some great scrambles in California and Oregon and this matched much of what you would call a scramble in the Cascades and Sierras.

Get your scramble on!
Old Rag can either be done as a great 9.4 mile loop hike or an 8 mile out-and-back hike. The upper parking lot is no longer open to visitor's which adds about 2 miles to the trip, either way. Here is a good map. The trail is split up into three distinct parts on the ascent. The first mile is a road walk which gains a little elevation. The next 2 miles are steep but manageable. The last half mile to mile is mostly scrambling. Blue tags mark the way as seen above. There are numbered tags as well, I presume this is for rescue purposes.

The scramble part is like a roller coaster- it goes up, down, side to side and if you're not careful, you'll get a loop-de-loop. Follow the blue blazes closely because it is the only way to get to the summit without getting on a very exposed cliff. There are some exposed areas and some areas that do require some genuine climbing. You've been warned!
Wonder why they call them, the Great Smokey Mountains??
As for me, the trail was a delight. I enjoyed the easy summits up on the skyline but it was great to be back on something challenging. I took many pictures and had an all around good time. There are several false summits along the way but the true summit has a sign pointing towards it and one final scramble-y section. The sun was just setting which meant that I would have to come down all that in the dark! More good times.
False summit, nice view...

Coming down in the dark was not advisable but I was just happy I didn't miss this epic summit. Strangely enough, I think I actually might have stumbled in to some group doing some hazing down towards the bottom. Weird.

All in a day's adventure! I am sure enjoying this state.

Read. Plan. Get Out There!