There is one good thing about not training for a fall marathon. I have the time and energy to get in some fall hiking. I’m really trying to stay positive about this whole not running thing.
It was 35 degrees and dark when I left my house at 5:50. I stopped for coffee and made it to the base of Old Rag a little after 7.
I’m not sure I’d be up for a solo night hike, though. It’s too bad my friend Rebecca moved to the other side of the country. She’s the only person I could think of who might be willing to do that with me.
I hadn’t realized just how late the sun has been coming up these days. If I’d arrived any earlier, I would have been hiking in the dark.
The upper parking lot by the trailhead is closed, and there’s no parking anywhere along the road, so everybody has to park in the lower parking lot.
From there, it’s slightly less than a mile of road walking to reach the upper parking lot and trailheads. I always hike up the Ridge Trail, meet up with the Saddle Trail at the summit, and connect with the Weakley Hollow Fire Road to make a circuit that begins and ends in the upper parking lot. This seems to be the most popular route, although hikers wanting to avoid the rock scramble can do an out and back on the Weakley Hollow and Saddle Trails.
I met my first fellow hikers just before the Byrd’s Nest day shelter on my way back down. They were three older ladies. I’m guessing they were at least in their late sixties. I’m pretty sure the leader was in her seventies. I was just thinking how cool that was, when one of the ladies looked at me wide-eyed and asked “You don’t mind hiking by yourself?”. I told her I did not. “I love that.”, she said.
So I guess we were all impressed with each other for different reasons.
I changed clothes and was driving back to Charlottesville by 11 am, which left me plenty of time to do some shopping and clean the house.
Total Hike Distance: 9 miles
Kid-friendly: possibly for older kids with hiking experience
Wheelchair/Stroller Accessible: no
Fee: $8 per person ($5 in winter months) or valid park pass
Elevation Gain: 2429
You can watch an interesting video about hiking Old Rag put out by the National Park Service here.
Directions from Charlottesville:
Take 29 north toward Madison. Once you pass Madison County High School on your right, start looking for 231 North on your left. Turn left onto 231 North, once you are through downtown Madison, bear left to stay on 231. Continue for about 13 miles. You will see a brown sign for Old Rag Mountain on the right side of the road. Turn left onto Nethers Rd. Keep left to stay on Nethers Road for about 3.5 until you come to the grassy parking lot on your right.