REI Community
Old Rag

Select Area...
Berry Hollow 
Briar Ledge 
Eagle's Gift 
Jabba the Hutt 
Lower God's Area 
Lower Ridge Trail Slabs 
Middle God's Area - Right 
Middle God's Area-Left 
Reflector Oven 
Skyline Wall (PATC Wall) 
Summit Crags 
Sunset Walls 
Upper God's Area 
Wall That Dreams Are Made Of 
Whale's Lip 

Old Rag Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 38.5515, -78.3106 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 93,297
Administrators: Aaron Parlier, Shawn Heath, Jake Jones, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: reddirt on Dec 7, 2006
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
Bobcat resting in the early morning, shot along th...


Old Rag is the traditional climbing crown of Virginia. For those willing to brave the somewhat lengthy approach with a full rack and rope, gorgeous single pitch, Yosemite-esque granite awaits you. Classic splitters, corners and faces on very old and bomber rock define this area. There are a few routes that go for two pitches, but not many. The same can be said for bolted routes- they are sparse and most require the augmentation of traditional gear.

The climbing at Old Rag offers plenty of opportunity for adventure. Choose wisely, because an injury here requiring a rescue is quite an involved and arduous procedure. Be cautious.

There is a great resource for more informationHERE.

Good non-climbing info at:

Getting There 

Directions from Google Maps

From Washington DC metro area, outer loop of beltway:

Take exit 49 to merge onto I-66 W toward Front Royal/Manassas 21.7 mi.
Take exit 43A to merge onto Lee Hwy/US29 S toward Gainesville/Warrenton 11.5 mi
Take the US29 Bus/US211 W exit toward Luray/Warrenton/US-15 Bus 0.2 mi
Merge E Lee Hwy/US-211 W/US-29-BR S Continue on US-211 W/US-29-BR S 1.8 mi
Turn right at Frost Ave/US-211. Continue to follow US-211 27.0 mi
Turn left at Berryville Pike/US-522 0.1 mi
Turn left at Main St/US-522. Continue to follow US-522 0.7 mi
Turn right at Fort Valley Rd/VA-231 7.3 mi
Turn right at Sharp Rock Rd 1.2 mi
Turn right at Nethers Rd 2.2 mi

Large Parking lot will be on left. There are also ~10 parking spots at the trail head.
Parking fees may be required unless you have an annual SNP $20? or NPS/America-the-Beautiful $80 pass.


Take route 231 (whether coming from North or South) to route 670 (Old BlueRidge Turnpike). Follow this to the small, one intersection town of Syria, VA. From here, follow Weakley Hollow Road all the way to Berry Hollow Rd (it actually turns into Berry Hollow Road at some point) until you reach the Berry Hollow Parking lot. You will have a small river on your left most of the way. You will also pass White Oak Canyon on your left on your way. When you get to Berry Hollow parking, you won't be able to go any further. Parking is limited. Get there early, don't block anyone in, don't take up two spots, and no fee required. Hike up the fire road and take your first right at the sign. In no time you'll be at Old Rag Shelter, then you'll reach Byrd's Nest Shelter, then it's just a quick jaunt to the summit from there.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.9 miles from here

97 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',7],['3 Stars',29],['2 Stars',36],['1 Star',19],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Old Rag

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Old Rag:
The Vegetated Crack   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 90'   Reflector Oven
Pure Fun   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Summit Crags
Twin Cracks   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch   Summit Crags
Piton Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 65'   Skyline Wall (PATC Wall)
Frigid Air   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Sunset Walls : Middle Sunset Wall
Chasm Crack   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 85'   Reflector Oven
Rusty Bong   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 70'   Skyline Wall (PATC Wall)
The Dobie Gillis Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Skyline Wall (PATC Wall)
Groovy   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   Summit Crags
Strawberry Fields   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   Reflector Oven
Phil's Solo   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 35'   Sunset Walls : Lower Sunset Wall
Mosaic   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Sunset Walls : Middle Sunset Wall
Oh My God Dihedral   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Middle God's Area-Left
Report to Sickbay   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Reflector Oven
Bushwhack Crack   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Wall That Dreams Are Made O...
Good Friday   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Wall That Dreams Are Made O...
Banana Crack   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Wall That Dreams Are Made O...
Sunset Crack   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Sunset Walls : Lower Sunset Wall
Don't Pro the Flake Bro   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a PG13     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 190'   Reflector Oven
The The   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Wall That Dreams Are Made O...
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Old Rag

Featured Route For Old Rag
Rock Climbing Photo: View of the Crackin

The Crackin 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13  Virginia : Shenandoah & NW VA Region : ... : Reflector Oven
1st route on the Reflector Oven. Climb corner up broken rock until you can step into the base of an overhanging corner (about 20 feet). Careful placing pro as much of the rock is delicate. Clip a solid bolt and head through the crux - an overhanging 30 foot crack/layback system. Rest at top of crack and continue through small finger crack and slab finish. Don't blow the final slab moves. Not the crux, but protection is sparse. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Virginia

Photos of Old Rag Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: View of Old Rag with several images merged.  Photo...
View of Old Rag with several images merged. Photo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Spencer working The Donald 5.11D at Old Rag
Spencer working The Donald 5.11D at Old Rag
Rock Climbing Photo: Spencer working the first ascent of The Donald 5.1...
Spencer working the first ascent of The Donald 5.1...
Rock Climbing Photo: Old rag after a snowstorm
Old rag after a snowstorm
Rock Climbing Photo: Hiking out from Old Rag is always memorable.
Hiking out from Old Rag is always memorable.
Rock Climbing Photo: Hikers atop Old Rag summit. Photo by Heather Sudlo...
Hikers atop Old Rag summit. Photo by Heather Sudlo...
Rock Climbing Photo: The official trail head sign in Shenandoah Nationa...
The official trail head sign in Shenandoah Nationa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo: Dave Fiorucci
Photo: Dave Fiorucci

Comments on Old Rag Add Comment
Show which comments
By Cunning Linguist
Jul 17, 2007
Old Rag is a jewel in the rough. If you like granite, here's a quiet little piece of Joshua Tree tucked away in the hills of Virginia. This area is hard to beat if you like trad routes on good rock and don't want to drive to the New and fight the crowds from NoVa (Northern Virginia) on the weekends. Fall and Spring are great; summer is something you are better off not finding out for yourself-NEVER COME HERE IN SUMMER! Black flies, Stinging nettle FORESTS taller than you and thicker than the Rhodos in North Carolina, searing heat, hungry bears-the list goes on. Winter can be cold, but on nice days you can get sunny 50 degree days that remind you why it's good to be alive. If you live in Virginia and haven't been here yet, you are missing out. I spent ten weekends climbing here and still haven't touched the potential. Oh My God Dihedral, Banana Crack, Bushwhack Crack, Strawberry Fields, The The, and Mosaic are classics worthy of any amount of hiking. Eric Horst's guidebook is the best resource, although you'll still be bushwhacking and getting lost regardless. Once you've been there a few times it's easy to get where you're going and a fun challenge to find the more obscure walls. A great area with a good balance of moderates and a few testpieces; old school ethics make this a wilderness treat.
By ttriche
From: Altadena, CA
Jul 24, 2007
You know, it's not *THAT* bad in the summer. I've climbed at the PATC wall in August and while it was sweaty work, it's a lot less crowded than Seneca or Great Falls... but if you have the choice, heading to North Carolina or the New would probably be a better idea. I think the Sunset Slabs are manageable in summer as well, if memory serves.

Climbing at the Reflector Oven or God's Area in summer would be a great way to get heat stroke, however. Those and the other gems at Old Rag are certainly best appreciated in winter. One of the more memorable trips I took up there was after an ice storm -- the trees near the summit looked like they were growing lead crystal place settings when the morning sun hit them. Quite likely the best winter climbing area anywhere near Washington, DC, but an adventurous spirit is required.
By Ross Purnell
From: Palmyra
Apr 9, 2009
Why does the overview say "beware of the directions in the Eric Horst book?" I followed those directions exactly and came to the Berry Hollow trailhead with no problems.
By Ed Wade
From: Hermann, MO
Aug 24, 2012
When I lived in Virginia I climbed at Old Rag only when the leaves were off the trees and when the days high temp was going to be 45 or above.If you plan on hiking up from Weakly Hollow it is wise to get there before 8am. The parking lot fills up quickly. It is better to hike in from Berry Hollow except if climbing anywhere beyond the approach to the God area (Whales Lip, Ridge Trail routes, etc.). If going to Old Rag for the 1st time try and make your way to the Reflector Oven. It is easy to see from the trail and once you are down there you can get your bearings. You will be able to see the corner and the left side of the Gods Area. The Horst guidebook is adequate so take it up there with you. If you are strictly a sport climber don't even think about making the hike. The real gems are the cracks. Bushwack and the Corner are as good as any climb anywhere. Try to enjoy the hike. It will make a world of difference.
By Gee Double
Oct 26, 2015
Rock and Ice #8, May 1985, has a nice Old Rag guide...
By Warrior
From: Rock City, GA
Feb 14, 2016
Is the upper lot still open to park at? I read somewhere that they closed it to the public...
By Seth Derr
From: harrisburg, pa
Jul 22, 2016
I tried to park up there over memorial day and got turned back by a ranger saying the boy scouts were using it and it was full. She didn't say anything about it being closed for good, so I'm assuming you can still get up there on a not so busy weekend. If anyone else has any info to the contrary please post up.

Edit to add: I parked there this weekend (11/11-11/13/2016) with many other people. It is still open.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About