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Old Rag - Robertson Mountain Loop - Virginia, United States

by Chalkley  
with a Garmin Oregon 300
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The Old Rag Mountain circuit is a very popular hike, perhaps the most popular in Shenandoah National Park.  It's a 8-mile loop featuring a challenging rock scramble and great 360-degree views from the summit.  We were looking to extend the loop and increase the degree of difficulty by linking up with nearby, lesser known trails. We added the Robertson Mountain and Corbin Hollow Trails to make the trip significantly more difficult, yet also more rewarding. In this route you'll summit both Old Rag and Robertson Mountains which are nearly identical in height.

We beat the crowds on an unseasonably warm February day by leaving the lower Old Rag parking lot at 8:00 a.m.  The heavily traveled Ridge Trail was very muddy and icy above 2400 feet or so.  We navigated the long rock scramble without incident and admired the view of Robertson Mountain (our next stop) from the blustery summit.  After coming down the Saddle Trail, we turned onto the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.  Unfortunately, there's no option to stay on trails at this point as you have to take one of several fire roads to get to any trailheads.  After a mile and half or so down the fire road, we took a left onto the Robertson Mountain Trail.  This was far more difficult than the Old Rag portion since it gains over 1,700 feet in only 1.5 miles.  There aren't many views on this steep hike until you actually reach the 3,296-foot summit.  You can look back across the valley to Old Rag mountain, but that's about it.  Unlike Old Rag, it's not a rocky, open summit.  After a quick lunch near the summit, we continued northwest along the Robertson Mountain Trail, slipping and sliding on the ice-covered trail.  This led to an intersection with the Old Rag Fire Road.  We took a right turn there and after only a couple hundred feet, took another right onto the Corbin Hollow Trail.  This was a nice, well-maintained that follows a creek down the valley all the way back to the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.  It crosses the stream in a few places, but boulders and conveniently down trees make for easy crossings.  Corbin Hollow is fairly steep with no switchbacks, so we descended rapidly.  Towards the end, there's a stretch of rocky trail that's hard on the feet and ankles.  At the Weakley Hollow Fire Road intersection, we took and left and essentially rejoined the "normal" Old Rag circuit.  The side-trip up and over Robertson Mountain added 1740 feet elevation gain, 4.3 miles and just under 3 hours.  We continued down the Weakley Hollow Fire Road (joined by several Old Rag hikers) and returned to the now-full parking lot.


Even after a warm week, expect portions of the trails to be quite muddy and icy in late winter.  The ice was bad enough, but navigating it with muddy shoes made for some dicey moments.  Shoe crampons would have been helpful in spots.
Old Rag, shenandoah, Robertson, Weakley Hollow, Corbin Hollow
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Trip Info
February 18, 2011
Trip Location: Nethers, Virginia, United States
Length: 13.5 miles
Duration: 7 hours
Activity: Hiking
Trip viewed 5,484 times
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