Fall On The Old Rag

IMG_1540Yesterday, I completed the long circuit hike at Old Rag in the Shenandoah National Park. It is one of the most challenging hikes in Virginia and takes much of the day but it is worth it. It remains one of my favorite hikes with truly breathtaking overlooks. In the Fall, Virginia is radiant with different colors and you get the “big picture” on Old Rag.

Depending on your pace, the hike will take 5-7 hours. I like to stop and just listen to the wind in the forest or just gaze out at the panoramic view of the Virginia countryside. (I took almost an hour just lying on the forest floor and looking up at those fire red and blazing yellow trees moving in the mountain winds).

If you do not live here, you need to plan a trip for the Fall. We love living in Virginia, which has (in my humble opinion) the most beautiful Spring and Fall seasons in the country.

The hike is quite challenging at point as you climb over large rocks or through small passages in the rocks. Old Rag makes you pay for the privilege of the incredible view of the summit. Indeed, it plays with your mind with a series of false summits where you think that you have finally made it only to look up and see another rise. When you reach the real summit, most of us are pretty beat (yes, that is a Bears hit and Blackhawks teeshirt. One fellow hiker at the Summit said “I am going to guess that you are from Chicago”).

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Last year, I did the hike for the first time and it damn near killed me. It was huge wake up call for me. I had failed to take enough water and I was highly dehydrated. I was also very heavy. As as lifelong hiker, I was shocked and a bit unnerved. I barely finished the long course.

After the hike, I swore that I would return in better shape. I did that yesterday. I lost over 40 pounds in the last year and it made a huge difference even though I was pretty wiped out by the end. I also brought ample water this time.

I strongly recommend doing the trail on a weekday. It takes about an hour and forty minutes to drive to the trail from Washington, D.C. (Your GPS probably will cut out as you enter the country roads, which are themselves gorgeous). It can get very busy on weekend. Unfortunately, now that they have closely the small parking lot at the trailhead, you have to walk roughly a mile to start the hike. I started the hike at the break of dawn and it was amazing.

I strongly encourage you to do this wonderful hike. It is a soul-cleansing, stress-relieving experience. Less than two hours away from the Beltway, it is one of the best hikes that I have taken anywhere in the world.

Here are a few of the many pictures from the hike.

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29 thoughts on “Fall On The Old Rag

  1. Alright just one more showing the whole Goshen Pass and Lake Merriweather. I think it’s the most beautiful spot in all of Virginia but don’t tell anybody. It’s the native in me wanting to keep it privstešŸ˜Š

  2. Raff:

    I think I was in high school when I first saw Goshen Pass. I was just mesmerized by the place that was only lightly toured by the locals. We used to hunt in nearby Bath County. It was sort of a local secret for a long time but now is a real destination. There is one other place called Blue Hole that I’m equally fond of but that’s my secret.

  3. I think when JT was living in the moment and communing w/ nature there was a divine intervention. The Cubs hired Joe Maddon, the best manager in baseball! They have a great GM, a great coach, and an owner willing to spend money. Does anyone care the owner is a Republican?

  4. Begging your pardon, but Ricketts isn’t planning on spending money. He’s hiring Maddon, a manager with a track record of getting the most out of teams with low payrolls, in order to save money on player salaries – the biggest expense in running a team.

    Now, if they go out and get John Lester, that would be another matter.

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