City Cast

The Ultimate Guide To Old Rag Mountain

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on October 5
View from the top of Old Rag last weekend.

View from the top of Old Rag last weekend. (Kaela Cote-Stemmermann/City Cast DC)

Fall hiking season is here and Old Rag Mountain is one of the best places to enjoy it. The hikes are the most popular in Shenandoah, but beware, they are hard even for experienced hikers. Here’s how to spend the perfect day on and around the mountain.

Important Prep:

Before you go, you MUST purchase an Old Rag day-trip ticket ($1) online. There is no service at the trailhead, so have a copy of the confirmation code with you. Separately, you must also have a National Park entrance pass. You can purchase one at the rangers station or online.

Old Rag Mountain is a two-hour drive from D.C. Park at the Old Rag ranger station (unless you are hiking Barry Hollow) or at one of the overflow parking lots.

Where To Hike:

🏔️ Old Rag Circuit Trail (9.4 mile loop)

The most popular and most strenuous hike on Old Rag, this loop is one of the best on the East Coast, but the elevation and rock scramble at the summit are not for the faint of heart. I recommend going counterclockwise so that you end the hike on the fire road.

🥾 Barry Hollow Hike (5.4 mile out-and-back)

This shorter, but still strenuous uphill hike gets you to the summit without the rock scramble, however, you also miss the consistent ridge views. Park at the Barry Hollow parking for this one.

🐕 Robertson Mountain Trail (7.8 mile loop)

This trail follows the fire road and then heads up a river to a summit across from Old Rag. It is less popular but allows dogs!

Part of the famous rock scramble up Old Rag.

Part of the famous rock scramble up Old Rag. (Kaela Cote-Stemmermann/City Cast DC)

Where To Eat:

Congratulations, you finished your hike! Now it's time for a reward. Stop by Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen to fill up on carbs. Then, pop into the attached general store for some amazing homemade cookies. The Black Twig Diner & Bar has great smash burgers and fried chicken. For dessert, grab a soft serve from Burgers N Things or stop by Roy’s Farm Market for a homemade pie to take home.

Where To Drink:

Grab a cold beer overlooking the mountains at Pen Druid Brewing. They have especially good sours and blondes. On the drive out, you will also find Quièvremont Vineyards, which focuses on French-style wines and offers all sorts of tasting options. Or you could stop at any of these Virginia wineries recommended by the Washington Post’s wine columnist.

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