Need an alternative hike to Old Rag in VA
October 7, 2013 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Because of the sequester, my plans for a birthday hike of Old Rag are out. Looking for something within a 2 or 3 hour drive of the D.C. area for Monday, October 14th. Have extensive hiking experience so would like something with a fair amount of miles and am not afraid of difficulty. No climbing, though!
posted by sparringnarwhal to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You may want to take a look atHiking Upward. We're in Nova and have found lots of great hikes through the site.
posted by brilliantine at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2013

Maybe you'll find some leads at (though this page doesn't break down fed vs state stuff unfortunately...)
posted by inigo2 at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2013

Are you looking for another hike with a good panorama view at the end, or just something strenuous and satisfying outdoors? I don't live in Virginia anymore (but did a ton of hiking all over the NoVa area when I lived there), so I don't know exactly what the fall colors are doing right now, but some of my favorite hikes in October were less "BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN" and more "rambling through golden trees with leaves slowly floating down."

If you want to hike to a good view, Ravens Rock was always a favorite of mine. Duncan Knob (right past SNP, in the national forest next-door) also gives you a view at the end. However, neither one really compares to Old Rag in the sense of feeling like you've actually climbed a mountain, so it might or might not be a great replacement for your plans.

If the leaves are changing right now, my all-time favorite hike in that area when the leaves were changing was the roller coaster section of the AT between Snickers Gap and Blackburn Trail Center--you won't see many other people, it's pretty strenuous (you'll definitely get your workout!), and there's a ton of hiking through gorgeous deciduous forests that are painted red, orange, and yellow. No views or overlooks to speak of, though.

Sky Meadows State Park was another longer hike with respectable elevation gain that I remember being very awesome in the October/November timeframe. I think there was even hot cider and a little fall festival the weekend I went, which was really fun at the end of the day. It's a state park so it should be open.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:50 PM on October 7, 2013

Oh, and just one more thought: it's at the very outer edge of your 2- to 3-hour driving limit, but one hike I wasn't able to do when living in Virginia and always regretted was heading out to the Monongahela National Forest and hiking Seneca Rocks and Spruce Knob. Supposedly it has superb views, plus Monongahela in general sees way less hiking and camping traffic than SNP. For a big birthday hike this could be just the ticket to replace Old Rag.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:59 PM on October 7, 2013

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