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Some photos from Old Rag, Shenandoah National Park

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  • Some photos from Old Rag, Shenandoah National Park

    Took a day hike up Old Rag in SNP recently to see what all of the fuss was about. I did a 15+ mile hike, ascending via Nicholson Hollow and returning to the trailhead by way of Old Rag. Nicholson Hollow isn't actually part of the normal Old Rag loop but I wanted to check that area out as well. Nicholson Hollow is a nice area with some decent campsites that appear to get moderate levels of use.

    After reaching the head of Nicholson Hollow, I descended along the fire road on the ridge, reaching the summit of Old Rag shortly before dusk. I lucked out and had the summit entirely to myself, a pleasant surprise given that there were probably 100+ cars at the trailhead when I started out (according to some online sources, as many as 900 hikers have been counted on Old Rag in a single day!).

    I have to say, Old Rag definitely lived up to the hype. The peak has a significant prominence that makes it easy to spot from miles away as you drive towards the parking lot. The views from the summit were spectacular, and the hike along the ridge east of the summit was a rugged challenge on par with the likes of the cables on Gothics, the Saddleback Cliffs, or even the Trap Dike. Over, around, and even under massive granite boulders and through eroded basalt dikes for more than a mile, all while enjoying non stop views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the hills and plains of the Piedmont to the east.

    In fact, Old Rag reminded me not at all of the wooded summits or even the balds of the central Appalachians, but of the Adirondacks. Even the geology was more in line with what one would expect of the High Peaks than the Blue Ridge Mountains. The panoramic views especially were typical of those one expects from the more popular High Peaks, and completely unlike much of the rest of the mountains of VA (where any views are often manufactured).

    Unfortunately, the parallels didn't end there... as with the High Peaks, there was an extensive rehabilitation effort being undertaken on the summit to stem soil erosion and devegetation from wayward hikers. Old Rag isn't high enough to have a sensitive alpine ecosystem, but the high levels of use concentrated on the summit have nevertheless resulted in some pretty significant impacts. String fencing and signs asking hikers to stay out of revegetation areas reminded me And there was human waste everywhere. I counted at least 50 piles of toilet paper on or near the summit.

    In short, Old Rag is basically the Cascade and Porter of the Shenandoahs. A spectacular hike with amazing views that is unfortunately getting loved to death.

    Photos coming in a post to follow...

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        • #5
          Those are sweet! Nice write up.

          (I love Old Rag. Just go really early or really late and it's much more enjoyable.)
          ADK 46/46W, Grid 237/552
          Photos & Stuff


          • #6
            Having a Sister in N Va., I've gotten to climb Old Rag twice and it's very nice lots of open rock.

            Second time with my Sister and Brother-in-law when the Mountain Laurels were blooming. They are not hikers but did OK; so, it's not a killer climb but there are a couple of scrambles which made it interesting for them.

            For us ADK hikers, the $10/person fee gets your attention, but worth it.