Hiking Old Rag on a Tuesday in February (Shenandoah National Park, VA)

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
’Till you find your dream.
— The Sound of Music

Okay, so I’m sort of cheating as the photo above is not actually the summit (instead it is one of NUMEROUS false summits) and the guy sitting there was a random stranger - but oh well, it’s a pretty photo isn’t it?

Anyways, back to the main “story”.

Old Rag has been on my VA bucket list for awhile now, as it is rumored to be the prettiest (and the hardest) hike in Shenandoah National Park. The downside of such good press is that Old Rag is usually crowded, as in super crowded, and I’m not a fan of experiencing the wonders of nature with lots of other people.

Luckily, a few weeks ago, on a random Tuesday in February, temperatures rose to 63 degrees. So I talked Dan into taking the day off work and we woke up early to drive to the trailhead (about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Arlington).

Upon arrival, we were pretty happy to see only a few other cars in the parking lot. We opted for the loop trail (about 9 miles) and it was hard. The first few hours are all switch-backs through the trees (which were so pretty leave-less in the winter light). And then the bouldering starts. Maybe I’m just getting old (maybe??) but the boulders were HARD - I felt like the guy in Free Solo (okay so a slight exaggeration, but I’m going with it). The rocks were slippery and you often have to look for small hand-holds to do all the climbing. I’m glad we didn’t take the kids, because Trout’s fear of heights would have probably caused us to turn around.

Every time we thought we reached the summit, there were more rocks to climb (SO MANY ROCKS!!!), but the view are stunning. As in absolutely-unbelievable- totally-worth-the-work stunning. The actual summit is somewhat of a let down compared to the majestic beauty of all the false ones.

The hike down is long (but relatively easy) and seems to take forever, but even that was beautiful. Honestly, it was a perfect day!!

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Darcy Troutman Photography is a Northern VA/Washington DC/Maryland documentary-style family photographer, who believes in capturing real moments. Interested in learning more? Please click here to sign up for my newsletter or schedule a session.