Shenandoah National Park - Old Rag Loop - April 2002

I did this as a solo 2 day, ~20.5 mile trip on a crummy weather weekend in April. This was suppose to be a Wilmington Trail Club trip but the leader had to cancel so I whipped out my map and went anyway on what I thought was a good route. I parked at mile 37.9 on Skyline drive. Starting around 9 AM, I hiked down the Corbin Cabin cutoff trail to Corbin cabin. Then went down Nicholson Hollow trail until I got to the Old Rag parking lot. The hike down from Skyline drive was pretty nice with very few people in the morning. I hit a massive troop of boy scouts heading up Old Rag. I  went up the Ridge Trail from Rt 600. The trail was pretty easy for the first 2 miles or so. Then it turned to big time boulder scrambling. I only had to take my pack off once to lower it down but I had several short dicey ascents with the pack on where previous rock climbing experience was a big help. I'd say the boulder scrambling was much harder than in the Catskills. Made it to the top of old Rag by 2 PM. Clouds were moving in but the view was still pretty good. Probably around 75 people shared the summit area. I headed down the Saddle trail around 3 PM. Went by both shelters. The spring at the Old Rag day shelter was active but it is not marked and is down the hill in front of the shelter. I elected to head down the Berry Hollow Fire Rd  with the idea of camping in the Whiteoak Canyon. However I got confused at the 1st parking lot not noticing that I wanted to be at  the 2nd parking lot. To make a long story short, I found a great multi-campsite next to the creek on a side trail out the north end of  the 1st parking lot.

Starting at 4:30 AM the rain started falling and never stopped. I had  to pack up in a relative down pour and start hiking back about 8 AM. My original intention was to hike up the White Oak Canyon Trail to Skyland and pick up the AT back to the car. However with the heavy rain I elected to back track up Berry Hollow Fire Rd to the Old Rag  Fire Rd and go up that way (saved 2 miles). I met up with the Whiteoak Canyon trail and got to Skyland around 11 AM. I had hot coffee and a cinnamon roll in the snack bar and headed back out for the last push to the car. I picked up the AT (called the Stoney Man in the parking  lot) and headed back to the car about 11:30. Turns out when you go this way you allegedly hit the highest point in the park, seemed odd because a side trail definitely appeared to go up. At any rate you can  stay on the AT (with some excellent views that I couldn't see because I was in a serious cloud) all the way back to the car at mile 37.9. A "marked" side trail goes to the parking lot (a trip of about 20 feet). I say the trail is "marked" because the sign post did not have a name for the side trail but it was real easy to see the parking lot. Got back about 1:15PM. Total length Day 1 was about 11.5 miles, total length on Day 2 I think is about 9 miles. Total elevation gain/loss is right around 5,000 feet. I'll tell you one thing. My legs were very sore for about 3 days after the trip. I'm guessing it was the boulder scrambling. I went through it pretty fast because I was concerned about the storm coming through and getting stuck out on the slippery rocks with a full pack. I think if I did it again I would rest halfway through the boulders instead of pushing through it so fast. At any rate the trip was pretty good despite the pouring rain.

I'm too lazy to pull the pictures out and scan them in. I have included a scan of the trail map.

I had to crawl underneath this rock with my full pack on. This was one of the more interesting sections of the boulder scrambling to be sure. View from the Saddle Ridge trail going up Old Rag.
View from the top of Old Rag looking back along Shenandoah National Park. Mark on the summit of Old Rag Mountain (3,268 ft) in Shenandoah National Park (Virginia) on 4/20/02.

Old Rag Loop Trail Map


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