Sunday, November 7, 2010

Old Rag Mountain

As I mentioned Saturday morning, a group of us went out to Shenandoah National Park to hike Old Rag Mountain.

We picked the perfect time to go! The leaves and the scenery were beautiful, making the drive fly by.
This hike is the considered one of the most popular hikes in Virginia, but also one of the most dangerous. The hike is an 8 mile loop, with the more strenuous part toward the beginning. The first 2.5 miles are all uphill until you reach the 1 mile of "rock scramble." Then the last 4.5 miles is all downhill. I would only consider the first 2 miles downhill to be a hike and the remainder is a nice 2.5 mile stroll down a Fire Road. By the time we got to the Fire Road, all 7 of us were walking in a nice compact group playing 20 questions.

Below you can view all of my pictures of the hike. I highly recommend this hike to anyone in the greater Virginia area with caution. If you do not think you can do the rock scramble, you could walk up the Fire Road to about 2 miles of uphill hiking to the summit of the mountain.

Since, I knew what was coming, once we got on the trail I started working on my Builder's Bar by Cliff Bar. This is one of my favorite energy bars because it is packed with protein, but looks and tastes more like a candy bar! YUM!

The first 2.5 miles was the incline I mentioned above, so once we got to our first overlook we stopped for a little lunch.

I think my sandwich enjoyed the view as much as I did.

There are no pets allowed on Old Rag Mountain, except this guy. This is a local dog that lives across from the Trail Parking Lot (or so his tag told us). His tag read something along the lines of "I know where I am, please do not take me. I live across the street from the Old Rag Mountain Parking Area." We were pretty amused.

After we saw him, we began the real rock scramble. My mom warned me, but I was still amazed by how many children (aka Cub Scouts) there were on this hike. The parking lot that holds 250 cars was full when we pulled up at 10 a.m. We ended up parking in a locals field that they opened up to the Public. We were pretty thankful!

When we started off, we knew we would be enjoying this hike with others. What we were not expecting was the up to 35 minute waits at the top. Thankfully our first wait was with this guy and only lasted 15 minutes.

This was the line for, in my opinion, the most challenging rock scramble between the second and third overlook. Total wait time: 35 minutes.

We thought it was worth it! And were very glad to have a rope.

Some of us had an easier time than others :/ But, we all enjoyed it!

The third major overlook!

Some of us are also braver (eer... or stupider) than others. This is a good example of why this hike is considered so dangerous.

And, finally at the top!

See the three major overlooks? Isn't it beautiful!

On our way back down the mountain!

We munched on our GORP the entire hike. I finally finished mine on the way down the mountain, along with my Granny Smith Apple Slices.

Overall, it was a great day. We had a great group that was prepared and upbeat about the entire experience until the car... when they crashed :).

Our total time on the mountain was just over 6 hours and that is with all the waiting we did at the top. Our group calculated that we probably spent a total of an hour waiting at various points along the rock scramble. Shenandoah National Park recommends that hikers give themselves 7 to 8 hours.

If you are from Virginia, have you hiked Old Rag? If you are not from Virginia or have not hiked Old Rag, what local hike would you call your State's most popular hike?