Old Rag Hike 2012

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Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Big Meadows campground (directions)

I have booked 3 campsites (D146, D148 and D149) that can accommodate 6 people each. Please try to "tent-pool" as much as possible so that we can fit everyone in this space.

When entering the campground, if asked, just give my name (Fabien Valoit) and the campsite number.


Saturday, May 19th at 12:30pm to Sunday, May 20th around 4:00pm. (Rain date: June 2/3 2012, same time.)


General information

This is a camping & hike trip. We spend Saturday night on a campsite, then we start the main hike on Sunday morning.

First thing to do: please have a look at this document, add your personal information, and whether you can offer a ride or share a tent. We need to do this before the weekend!

Unless you have a membership card (National Parks Pass), there is a $15 fee per vehicle to enter Shenandoah National Park. You can find the details about fees here. Campsites are not free but the GRA will pay for this.

What to bring

This link will help you to pack. Each person should bring their own food for 1 dinner, 2 lunches, and 1 breakfast, plus some snacks. Saturday night is the only time we will be able to use a fireplace. Please plan your menus accordingly. Also, you are not allowed to bring your own firewood. The GRA will bring some charcoal.

Drivers, consider bringing a GPS with you.

For Old Rag Trail, I advise you to "travel light": bring only water and food for the picnic, plus a first-aid kit. Leave the rest of your stuff (like your tent!) in your car. Don't bring a bulky DSLR camera on this hike, you would regret it. An oversized backpack would be an issue in the narrow passages.

It could also be useful to print the maps given below and bring them with you.

Day 1

Please plan to arrive at Big Meadows campground at 12:30pm. Locate our campsites (D146, D148 and D149) on the map, pick one, get there and you can start setting the tents! Do not pay at the Registration Station. If asked, say that you will join a group, give my name (Fabien Valoit) and the campsite numbers.

After setting the camp, we will have a quick lunch (no campfire involved) so that we can start a short hike at 2:00pm. There are several trails around the campground (map), we could do Lewis Falls Trail, a 3.3 mile-loop that offers a good view of a 81'-high waterfall. If you want to save your energy for next day's big trail, you can stay at the camp and play cards or society games!

Then we will have dinner at the camp. There should be some small fireplaces available, so you can bring whatever you want to grill! Be careful with your food, remember to repect the rules about bear safety.

Day 2

Before the hike, we have to unmount the tents, we leave nothing on the campsite since we're not going back there afterwards. You decide at what time you want to get up... but please be ready to hit the road at 8:00am! We have to drive about one hour to go to the trailhead (map). There is a parking lot on the left side of route 600; this is where we will be waiting for each other. At 9:30am, we start the hike whether you're there or not. About the breakfast: you can decide to get up early and eat at the camp, or to prepare something that you will eat on the parking lot right before the hike, as you prefer.

So, this is it, the Old Rag Trail! By the way, you should watch this video to know what to expect. There will be some boulder-hopping, and even rock-climbing, some narrow passages. But most of the time, it's "just" walking. So in short, it's a strenuous hike, but it's fun! Here is the trail map.

We will stop and have a picnic during the hike, at around 12:30pm. So remember to pack some ready-to-eat food, like a sandwich, in your backpack. We should be back to the cars at 4:00pm at the latest. Then we drive back to civilization (about 2 hours).


After being postponed so many times, this event finally happened! We took advantage of a lull in the storm and enjoyed a weekend of sun!

There were about about 20 people, and I heard there would be some survivors. Thus, it was a success! :D

We want to thank Caroline Rosin who generously provided 3 tents! It was much appreciated.

Technical note: it is better to start a fire with firewood, and add charcoal later on.

On the dark side, it is a pity that most people didn't read this page. People were not informed, just because they didn't want to spend five minutes reading the instructions. It is crucial that each person who signs up for an event cares about its organization, both for safety and for the sake of the event. People also have to comply with the rules, be it the organizer's or the National Park's camping rules. We didn't have any serious problems this time (hopefully), but this kind of behavior may compromise future events like this one. Being unruly is not an option when safety is at stake.

It is to be noted that it's virtually impossible for one or two organizers to control 20+ people spread in several campsites or hiking in line at different paces. For a similar event, I recommend to limit the attendance to 15 or 18. This number would be advertised from the start; we could have a list of attending people sorted by the time of their sign-up, plus a waiting list.

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