Sunrise from Summit of Old Rag: A Strenuous Night Hike

  • December 28, 2013 · 2:30 AM
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Strenuous Night Hike!

Let's Enjoy the Sunrise from the Peak of Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park!

This Hike is Timed So That We Should be at the Peak of the Mountain to Enjoy the Sunrise! For This Particular Hike, the Moon is Very Near Full to Boot!

This night hiking adventure is strenuous and not for inexperienced hikers. This is normally a pretty strenuous hike but it will be compounded due to the dark for an ultimate challenge.

This adventure begins with an easy hike on a wide trail through dense forest. At these lower levels you are most likely to see wildlife. As the path steepens, the hike becomes a climb through the woods with numerous switchbacks and large boulders. After about 1½ miles the forest gives way to the rock scramble and plenty of wonderful views. From here to the summit you will go over, through, and under boulders on the Ridge Trail. Once at the summit the view is spectacular and panoramic.

You will climb through caves, between fissures, around balancing rocks, and up a natural staircase.

Yep, the hike is at 2:30 am--you read right! Our team challenges those of you who can handle this to get your butt up and join us on this hike!

Special Night Hike Gear Requirement: Headlamps!

This is a night hike and headlamps (no flashlights) are REQUIRED for this hike. No flashlights permitted as they are a safety hazard under normal hiking situations, but due to the fact that you will need to use your hands on the rock scramble, it only makes it more important that you have a headlamp, with a change of batteries just in case please.

Hike Pace

Due to a night hike and rock scramble the hike pace will average 2 to 2.5 mph. If you have any questions, please contact Kellie or any of the leaders posted at the bottom of this posting as we are happy to help. No worries as we have experience with this and it is a ton of fun, as long as you are capable and prepared. If you have ever hiked Old Rag before than you will do just fine.

Click here for pictures of a past hike on this trail!

"The rocks of Old Rag are among Shenandoah National Park's oldest. Billions of years ago, the granite that forms the crest of Old Rag was thousands of feet underground. With time, the rocks uplifted to the point where they now perch atop this 3,268--foot mountain. At the same time, the igneous rock that once surrounded today's boulders eroded and exposed them. Seeing these rocks, shrouded in all the various weather conditions is one of the reward of hiking to the summit of Old Rag. Another reward includes completing a quick self-taught course in "rock scrambling 101" as you scramble over and under boulders. The first 2/3 of the hike is on a trail through the trees, while the upper part is open and rocky with rock scrambling up to the summit.

Weather Information

This hike is rain, snow or shine. Click Here for the link we use for the forecast as it is specifically for the mountain.

Trail Information
Nearby City: Sperryville
Length: 9.2 total miles
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Strenuous due to some rock scrambling to the summit (no special gear required for the rock scramble) and the fact that most of this hike will be in the dark.
Trailhead Elev: 1200 feet
Elevation Gain: 2200 feet
Elevation at Summit: 3291 feet
Duration: 5-7 hours since this is a night hike and the going is a little slower than during the daylight
Highlights: Mile long rock scramble and vistas
Wildlife: Deer, foxes, black bears, skunks, and bobcats

Carpool Information
There are 2 carpools for this hike!
Baltimore Area Carpool
To carpool or caravan from the Baltimore metro area, meet at Savage Station. Click here for directions to Savage Station. Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.

DC Area Carpool
To carpool or caravan from the metro DC area, meetup at the Centerville Park and Ride. Click here for information and directions to the Centerville location. Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.

If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations, please post your location in the comment section below. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!

Directions to the Trailhead

Click Here for Directions to where we meet for this hike.

Special Winter Gear Note:

Traction gear is a must in order to hike in the winter with our group for safety and so we can hike all four seasons! The most dependable/reliable gear in our opinion is either Kahtoola Microspikes or STABILicers Originals (Stabilicer "Originals" and not the "lites" as too many "lites" have snapped while out on the trail) and YakTrax are highly discouraged. Traction gear/ice cleats come in handy for getting the mail or walking the dog, in addition to any other outdoor activity where there is ice involved! You can run on the ice with them on and many runners do just that!

Sunrise Time

Sunrise: 7:25 a.m.

Gear Suggestions

Click here for gear suggestions and recommendations for hiking

Meet and Greet is from 2:15 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.

Hike Step Off Time is 2:30 a.m. Sharp

Important Note: We Must Leave On Time Because this Hike is Timed So We Are at The Peak to Enjoy the Sunrise. As a Result, We Are Not Able to Wait for Anyone Who Might be Running Late and  There is No Cell Reception at the Trailhead. Thanks for Understanding and Please Pad Your Time Accordingly.

Carpool time from Savage Station is 11:45 p.m..

Carpool time from Centerville Park and Ride is 12:45 a.m.

Please note that our holiday weekend hikes and special night hikes are not refundable due to too many people backing out of the at the last minute before the refund cut-off and keeping others from being able to go. Sorry, but this is the only way to help make sure that there is a good turnout and our leaders not offer to lead a hike on their holiday in vain...or they will be burned enough that they will no longer offer. Since we have made holiday hikes non-refundable it has boosted attendance rate significantly and often have perfect attendance, yay! Please note that our refund policy is always listed just beneath the price, and you are required to check a box that you agree to it before you can pay, so I put it in three places to avoid any issues. Thanks so much for your understanding and have a great time.

Fido is NOT Welcome on This Hike

Bill P:[masked]

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  • Hua D.

    Always wanted to have a Sunrise hike at Old Rag mountain. Very happy the dream come trule. A great hike with great weather. A lucky day!! Nice to know everyone on the trail. Hope to see all of you soon on the trail again. Happy New Year Everyone!!

    3 · December 28, 2013

    • David M.

      Thanks for all the pics!

      2 · December 29, 2013

  • Hua D.

    Hi, Guys, I have posted out a bounch of photos on the web. If there was a photo that you do not like it, do not hesitant to let me know, and I will take it off.

    2 · December 29, 2013

  • David M.

    Thx. Bill for a great hike. Everyone got off Old Rug safely! Cheers,

    2 · December 28, 2013

  • Kathryn

    Lovely way to see the dawn of a new day. Thanks Bill for shepherding us - fabulous hike!

    2 · December 28, 2013

  • Bernie

    Fantastic hike to the top of Old Rag to watch the dawning of a new day. Great challenge well worth braving the cold and winds on the summit. Thank you Bill for keeping everyone moving and safe.

    3 · December 28, 2013

  • Giuliana

    Good work out "early" this morning. Thanks Bill for making sure all the "children" were account for on this field trip!
    See you on the trails next year!

    1 · December 28, 2013

  • Gary Y.

    Thanks, Bill. That was well led. Definitely a challenge. Great time, everyone. And thanks for the sweeps.

    1 · December 28, 2013

  • Erik

    Fantastic hike today! Thanks Bill for your fearless leadership.

    2 · December 28, 2013

  • Megan

    Who's meeting at Savage Mill to carpool?

    December 25, 2013

    • Di U.

      Is there a specific parking lot? I'm at that address and there's nothing there

      December 27, 2013

    • Di U.

      Found it! Do not use google maps

      December 28, 2013

  • David M.

    I'll be at Centreville per usual. See you then!

    December 26, 2013

    • Paul A

      Ok great, maybe we share ride.

      1 · December 27, 2013

  • Ali

    Cracked my kneecap, no hiking for a month. Have fun!

    December 16, 2013

    • Hua D.

      Ouch! Hope a speedy recovery!!

      1 · December 22, 2013

    • Bill P.

      Oh man. Ouchy. Get better quickly, Ali.

      1 · December 27, 2013

  • Liz

    This is a hike for my 58th birthday (12/27) and I am wondering whether I might add one or two other family members.

    December 22, 2013

    • Kellie C.

      Liz, I hope you are able to sign them up as long as they are able to hike at that "level" of hike. As long as there are slots availbe then there is room.

      December 25, 2013

    • Bill P.

      Happy birthday, Liz. I am 8 years ahead of you.

      December 27, 2013

  • Giuliana

    Bill,
    Are we going for breakfast after "reaching for the sky'?....

    December 27, 2013

    • Bill P.

      It is up to your car about whether you stop for breakfast afterwards. I will be leading another hike up Catlett Mountain after the Old Rag hike.

      December 27, 2013

  • Julie D.

    wow! sounds amazing! sorry I saw this so late but definitely want to go next time

    December 27, 2013

  • Mindy

    Hank and I will be coming from Charlottesville so we will meet up at the trail head.

    December 26, 2013

  • Paul A

    Anyone going from D.C or meeting at Centerville to carpool?

    December 26, 2013

  • Steve

    Does anyone have footgear or headlamps to sell?

    November 6, 2013

    • Giuliana

      Steve, you can get both gears from stores like REI. Micro spikes are your best choice for footgear in icy trails. Haven't got mines yet..

      1 · November 18, 2013

    • Kellie C.

      The geear lis has a ilnk to places where you can guy the recommended gear. Here is the link so you don't haee to look for it... http://www.meetup.com...­ Hope that helps and don't ever hesitate to contact me directly at [masked] or[masked] as I don't often get a chance to read comments due to how many hike we have and how large our group is. But I am easy to reach offline. Glad I saw this and was able to respond and enjoy the hike

      December 25, 2013

  • Jon

    Lots of people wanting a spot on this one. Maybe the leaders would be able to open up some more spots or set another hike for the same time for the following Saturday? Just a thought

    December 25, 2013

    • Kellie C.

      Jon, that is a great idea but we can only let as many people in as we have enough leaders for. We are in dire need of more leaders since we have 13,500 active members and always have over 100 hikes on our calendar. Hope you get a spot and if another member of our leadership team beceoms availbe to take an additional group on this hike I will be mroe than hppy to open it up to 15 more hikers....

      December 25, 2013

  • Giuliana

    Prepared and oh so eager to go..

    October 18, 2013

    • Bill P.

      U R crazy, gurl.

      November 14, 2013

    • Giuliana

      Crazy is my name sometimes...and having fun with it!

      November 18, 2013

  • Bill P.

    Please, for a hike like this, we will need a name and a photo for every hiker so we have a very clear idea of (1) who is going, (2) whether this person is up to the rigors of the hike, and (3) information we can give, if needed, to emergency responders. So if you have registered for this hike and added +1 (for a guest), PLEASE have this person RSVP with their own profile. Thanks.

    1 · October 24, 2013

    • Bill P.

      Mindy, You are approved. And if you can vouch that your guest has the equipment and chops, that's cool. I can get your guest RSVPd if he has a MAHG profile. He will need one for this hike, for safety. As soon as you can give me his MAHG profile name, contact me and I will see that there is a place with double payment.

      November 14, 2013

    • Mindy

      Having him set up a profile. He wasn't on meet up. I have no doubts he can get through the hike and we are good on equipment.

      November 14, 2013

  • Bill P.

    Please only sign up if you (1) have good traction gear (no Yaktrrax) and reliable headlamp, and (2) if you are prepared to hike on snowy and icy trails and rock scrambles. In addition, if you do not have Mid-Atlantic's Pre-Approved For Extra Strenuous hike designation, you have TWO DAYS after signing up, to get in touch with me to establish your chops. After that, I will scratch you out to make room for those who are prepared and eager to go.

    This can be a very memorable hike. One of the more satisfying aspects is the TEAMWORK that it takes to make sure everybody negotiates the scrambles. Excuse me if the above paragraph sounds harsh, but it is imperative for everyone's safety that you can do this hike safely. But if you are doing the winter night hike for the first time, you can be sure that we have done this night hike many times and that the leaders will insist on safety first.

    1 · October 18, 2013

    • Richard

      Is there a time that would be best to call you about this hike? I'm new to the group but would love to attend. I've never done a night hike but have hiked Old Rag previously (and will be back there again in a few weeks).

      November 12, 2013

    • Bill P.

      Richard, I'd recommend, for safety reasons, to pass on this climb, but to encourage you to attend any one of SEVERAL strenuous mountain daytime hikes we will have EVERY WEEKEND THIS WINTER!

      November 14, 2013

  • Bill P.

    November 14: Today, I sent out email inquiries to 5 people asking that they provide information assuring me that they are capable of doing this climb (probably under adverse weather and footing conditions) safely. If you got such a message, I need to hear from you by Sunday November 17, or your name will be removed from this hike. Anybody else, is considered approved.

    Please keep signed on ONLY if you are willing to do the ascent under adverse weather and footing conditions. We will proceed with the hike, regardless of weather. Also, you must come prepared for severe weather regardless of the forecast. Weather forecasts are a POOR indicator of actual conditions on the Old Rag summit.

    November 14, 2013

  • Steve

    Bringing my 19 year old son, Steven. He's on college break from Oklahoma.

    November 6, 2013

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