Hiking to Old Rag Summit in Virginia - the shorter way!

Caroline Cunningham

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If you’re looking for a hike in Virginia that offers incredible views and provides a challenge to the average person but simultaneously is totally doable, you’ve come to the right place.

We’re talking Old Rag Summit! But the shorter way…

So, traditionally hiking to Old Rag Summit is done by doing the entire Old Rag loop which stretches 10 miles. While a bucket list hike for Virginia locals, this route can be daunting because of its length.

But there’s another way.

Old Rag Summit via Berry Hollows. This route is an in and out trail to the summit spanning about 5.4 miles. It’s half the length of the full loop and can be hiked in about 3 hours without stopping for too long.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trail because of its shorter length, the challenge that came with it (because yes, it is still tough), and the level of natural beauty not only at the top but throughout the trail.

Old Rag Summit via Berry Hollows is a must do trail in Virginia!

GETTING THERE

Old Rag Summit via Berry Hollows is in Syria Virginia. The trailhead begins in Shenandoah National park, but not along Skyline drive like most hikes. Instead it starts from the bottom of the mountain in Berry Hollow Parking Lot.

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TRAIL DETAILS

This trail is rated as strenuous and I would have to agree. It is  only about 5.4 miles but has a 1750 ft elevation gain which can leave you winded. If you’re in relatively good shape though, it’s doable, just a slight challenge. 

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Additionally, this hiking trail  has lots of rocks along it, which is beautiful and fun, but dangerous especially if you’re tired and not stepping mindfully. When I was there, I actually passed a girl who had twisted or broken her ankle and was being rescued by the park rangers.

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Personally, I didn’t find too much difficulty with watching my step, but I also have experience hiking. So be cautious.

As for the route, this is an in and out trail that starts at Berry Hollow Parking lot and goes up to Old Rag Summit, and then you make your way back the way you came.

For the first 0.8 miles you’ll walk up Berry Hollow Fire Road, a gravel walk.

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At the first junction, turn right towards Old Rag shelter and follow the trail up to Old Rag Summit (also called Saddle Trail). After about 2 miles, you will reach the top!

To follow your route, I used AllTrails.

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TIPS FOR HIKING TO OLD RAG

1. WEAR HIKING BOOTS FOR EXTRA SUPPORT.

My friends all wore sneakers which works, but we were definitely scarred after seeing the girl with her broken ankle… soif you have high top hiking boots, wear them for support.

2. HAVE PLENTY OF WATER AND A SNACK

Stay hydrated and pack to eat for energy, you’ll definitely need it.

3. WEAR A MASK OR HAVE IT READY FOR PASSING PEOPLE

I know it’s difficult to wear a mask the whole time while hiking, but it’s worth to have on your wrist or hanging on your ear at the very least so that you can quickly put it over your face when you pass others.

If you feel this is unnecessary in nature, trust me: This hike was super packed when I went in November and with so many narrow spaces along the trial, you can get into very close contact with others. So please wear your mask! And enjoy your hike!

#Virginia #hikingtrail

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My aim is to inspire adventure and empower people with the tools to travel. You can expect articles about solo female travel, budget travel tips, destination guides, and authentic storytelling.

Fairfax, VA
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