Put simply: Shenandoah National Park is home to the best climbing in western Virginia. The park’s high elevation keeps it cooler during the summer months, and its vast concentration of sheer rock outcrops means it’s home to dozens of well-shaded, highly textured granite crags. It’s also hard to beat the access: At less than three hours from Washington, D.C., and less than two from Charlottesville, Shenandoah is one of the best spots for weekend warriors anywhere in the region.
Old Rag Mountain
With its clean corners, textured granite, and splitter cracks, Old Rag Mountain has a well-earned reputation as the crown jewel of Virginia crags. Here, you’ll find over a hundred routes—mostly single-pitch trad—and several dozen boulders. For leads in the 5.4 to 5.9 range, head to the Summit Crags near the top of the peak. If you’re looking for top-rope access and a wider variety of grades, try the Skyline Wall, the crag just east of the summit outcrop.
The climbers’ lot is the Berry Hollow Parking Area. It’s best reached by driving north from Syria, Va., along state Route 643/Weakley Hollow Road. The parking area is on the north side of the road after 5.3 miles.
Old Rag is popular among climbers as well as hikers. Due to overcrowding in past years, you’ll need an Old Rag day-use ticket in addition to your parks pass. This reservation pilot program applies to any visit to the mountain between March 1 and November 30, 2022. You must purchase tickets online in advance.
Rock Climbing Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland by Eric Horst