One of my pastimes is buying hiking gear and never using it. I can’t help it. It’s just so attractive in the store. Boots that water just glides off of, a fancy pack that melds to your back, a camelbak water pouch that attaches to your backpack so you don’t need to even open a water bottle but can just drink through a little tube without breaking stride like this:
Oh. You think it’s nerdy? Just you wait, dear reader. Wait until you are out hiking and thirsty and tiredly drop your nalgene and get dirt all in your water rendering it undrinkable while I have a camelbak so that can’t happen. And I just laugh. ANWAYS, like so many people, I own the stuff but never actually go. I just put it off. That is, until my fitness brother made me actually go. We hiked Old Rag Mountain. Arguably the most famous DC hike. It looks like this…..
Yeah. So, it’s a MOUNTAIN, which means half of your 5-hour hike is uphill and pretty strenuous. God. So much hill. It also has this part called “rock scramble” close to the top. Aptly named because you are basically hopping and climbing and shimmying and tired for a period of time that seems like it will never ever ever end until you suddenly see this:
Pictures don’t do it justice. They really don’t. Best views of the Shenandoah I have ever seen and only 2 hours from DC. I would HIGHLY recommend starting the loop on the ridge trail (uphill, strenuous) and ending on the fire road (flat and next to a beautiful creek). You can find details here. If you want to camp there are plenty of places around, but you can’t camp higher than a certain elevation (there are signs letting you know) and the scramble is much more irritating with a full pack. Only downside to the hike is crowds. Best views around do attract people, so get there early on weekends.
ALSO. Since this is Part I of a three part series on DC hiking, figured I would start from the most famous. Part II will cover other day hikes and Part III one-night overnight hikes for a weekend trip. Keep checking ispy for updates. It’s almost summer! Get excited!