Robertson Mountain

  • Highlights: Great views, wildlife, wildflowers
  • Distance: 7 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: 1,320 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Limberlost parking area, Skyline Drive mile 43
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park 
  • Beer Pairings: Skyline Brewery—Jenkins Mountain Brown Ale & Little Devil Imperial Pale Ale

The Hike:

The summit of Robertson Mountain is 5 feet higher than nearby Old Rag. This hike gives you similar views with none of the crowds on Old Rag. As an added bonus, from the summit of Robertson Mountain you get nice views of the rocky summit of Old Rag. The trails are well marked and well maintained.

This hike begins at the Limberlost Trailhead. Limberlost is ADA friendly but does not allow pets. If you are hiking with your pet, you can bypass Limberlost and begin your hike at the Whiteoak Canyon Trailhead just 1/2 a mile north on Skyline Drive. See the map for details. 

Follow the easy Limberlost Trail counter-clockwise from the parking lot and at 1 mile turn right  the yellow-blazed Old Rag Fire Road. Continue on the fire road and bear left as it connects with the Skyland-Big Meadows Horse Trail and then turn right as the Old Rag Fire Road continues east. 

Fire roads are not our favorite trails; however, this one has a stream crossing, plenty of wildflowers, and two old ranger station buildings. The Old Rag Fire Road slopes downhill much of the way. At 2.8 miles, turn left on the blue-blazed Robertson Mountain Trail. Now the climb begins. The rocky trail ascends up the mountain through several switchbacks. Mountain laurel line the path. At 3.3 miles, look for a spur trail off to the right which leads to the rocky summit and some great views. At a grassy, turn right and scramble up some rocks for the best views.

 Whiteoak Canyon is in front of you and to the right the summit of Hawksbill towers above. Through the trees to the left you can catch a glimpse of Old Rag. On the typical weekend, hundreds of people will be at the summit of Old Rag at any time of day. We saw just one other person on the Robertson summit on a gorgeous weekend in May.

Retrace your steps back to the Old Rag Fire Road. We saw a bear on our return hike along the fire road. He was at least 100 feet off the trail and as soon as he heard us he bolted further into the forest. That was our first bear sighting in Shenandoah on a hiking trail. Turn right on the Limberlost Trail to complete the loop and return to your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

East of the Thornton Gap entrance station on US 211 is Skyline Brewery and Little Washington Winery. This small brewery/winery has a nice tasting room and outdoor seating with great mountain views. They also have an 18-hole disc golf course. Pete liked Jenkins Mountain Brown Ale, and English-style ale with a toasted malt aroma with caramel and toffee flavors. Kathy liked the Little Devil Imperial Pale Ale, named after one of our favorite hikes in Shenandoah. Made with Simone hops, it was nicely hopped and slightly bitter.

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