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A Hiker's Guide to the Geology of Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

By Paul Hackley

U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 00-263
Online Only
Version 1.0


Old Rag Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Shenandoah National Park and draws thousands of visitors each year from throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The scenic ridge trail along the mountain's rocky crest provides for an invigorating excursion enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, during all seasons of the year. This presentation is designed as an earth science educational tool that you may use for a visit to Old Rag Mountain. The primary intent is to describe the geological features of the fascinating rock forming the mountain, a formation known as the Old Rag Granite. As you scramble and crawl over outcrops of Old Rag Granite on the mountain's craggy peak, you are treading on the evidence of an ancient mountain-building event that occurred over one billion years ago! A map and walking tour of the ridge trail is included in this guide to help you appreciate the magnificent geological features visible in the rocks of Old Rag Mountain. In addition, you will learn about the physical forces and processes that have shaped the mountain, and a little about the plants and animals that inhabit its rugged slopes.

View of Old Rag from Skyline Drive

Open-File Report 00-263 in PDF format (2 MB). Acrobat Reader 5 or newer is required.
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Full-text version

For questions, please contact Paul Hackley.

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