Old Rag from Berry Hollow

  • Highlights: Classic hike, scramble, great views
  • Distance: 9.4 mile loop or 5.4 mile out and back (without the scramble)
  • Elevation change: 2,348 or 1,760 (without the scramble)
  • Difficulty level: hard
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park
  • Parking: Trail map with parking options
  • Beer pairings: Hopkins Ordinary-Innkeepers’ IPA and Second Breakfast Stout

The Hike:

This is one of the classic Virginia hikes and is very popular. Almost too popular. On weekends, the parking lots are usually full before 9am. The trail resembles a rush hour traffic jam as hundreds of hikers attempt to pass through the narrow parts of the famous rock scramble. The classic Old Rag circuit hike is a 9.4 mile loop with an elevation gain of 2,348 and includes the rock scramble. A shorter option does not include the rock scramble and begins at the Berry Hollow parking area and it is a 5.4 mile out and back to the summit with an elevation gain of over 1,700 feet. 

Both trail options begin outside the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park, but a park pass or entrance fee is still required. Both options are very popular and very crowded. We recommend an early start on a weekday if possible to avoid the crowds. We like the Berry Hollow option as we like to stay in Sperryville and we tend to get an early start (by sunrise) so we can usually find parking at the small parking lot at Berry Hollow. Another advantage to hiking this route early in the morning is we usually have the trail to the summit to ourselves.

The shorter Berry Hollow option begins on the Weakly Hollow Fire Road and joins the Saddle trail coming up the back of Old Rag to the summit and avoids the scramble. Retrace your steps to return to Berry Hollow parking and your vehicle. The longer, more popular Old Rag Circuit hike (with the scramble) begins with the Ridge Trail to the scramble to the summit and then comes down the back of Old Rag on the Saddle trail, connecting with the Weakly Hollow Fire Road which returns to the parking lot.

The trail is well marked and signs and maps are located at the trailheads. Visit the Shenandoah National Park site for more information, trail maps, and parking directions.

The Beer:

The trailhead for both versions of this hike are near Sperryville, the home of Hopkins Ordinary, a bed & breakfast with an in-house brewery (47 Main Street, Sperryville VA). On a recent visit, we tried the Innkeepers’ IPA, a medium hopped IPA made with centennial, citra, and cascade hops. It was a tasty, well balanced beer. Pete also liked the Second Breakfast Stout, a coffee-oatmeal-milk stout with a silky mouthfeel and perky bitter finish. Hopkins Ordinary has five rooms in the main house as well as a garden cottage, all include breakfast. 

If you are spending the night in Sperryville, plan ahead and reserve a table at Three Blacksmith’s, a fine-dining experience located across the street from the brewery. They have received outstanding reviews and have an excellent reputation. As a result, tables book up many months in advance for their single seating at 7pm. They don’t serve beer, but in addition to their fixed weekly dinner menu of local, seasonal, handcrafted foods they also offer an optional wine pairing for each course. It is one of our favorite restaurants in the mid-Atlantic.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.