Old Rag — White Oak Canyon — Nicholson Hollow Loop

This is an extended, more scenic version of Vicki’s Death March, that climbs Old Rag rather than Weakley Hollow Fire Road on the way to White Oak Canyon. While only 2.6 miles longer than the classic Vicki’s Death March, this route adds some additional ascent and a considerable amount of time because of the technical climb up and over Old Rag.

  • 28 miles
Running time
  • 6-9 hours
Total ascent/descent
  • 7,050 feet
    255 feet/mile

Route details

This clockwise loop starts at the Old Rag Mountain parking lot on State Route 600 near the hamlet of Nethers. Begin with a 4.0 mile, 2400 foot climb on State Route 600 and Old Rag Trail to the summit of Old Rag Mountain. Descend for 1.8 miles to a fourway intersection in a saddle with an interpretive sign. Take a left onto the Berry Hollow Fire Road and descend 2.0 miles to the White Oak Canyon trailhead (mile 7.8).

Next is a 5.7 mile climb to the summit of Hawksbill (mile 13.5), the highest point in Shenandoah National Park. From there it’s 4.6 miles of smooth ridge running on the Appalachian Trail (AT) northbound to Skyland (mile 18.2), where a snack bar is available in season for food and drink. Take the AT north to the short out-and-back trail to the Stony Man summit (mile 19.1).

Continue north on the AT for 3 miles (mile 22.1) to a small parking area on Skyline Drive. (There is a concrete marker on the AT, at which you take a right, leave the AT, and go a short distance to the parking area. If you get to Pinnacles Picnic Ground on the AT, turn around — you have gone too far.) At the parking area, cross Skyline Drive and pick up the Corbin Cabin Cutoff Trail, descending into Nicholson Hollow. Pass the (infamous) Corbin Cabin (mile 23.6) and continue along the Hughes River for 3.8 miles. At State Route 600 (mile 27.4), take a left and follow the road back to your car.

A popular shortcut is to take the Old Rag Fire Road back from Skyland.

Last updated May 27, 2020

What you do is up to you, but you shouldn't rely on these directions alone; they are often not specific enough to navigate by, and may be incorrect or out of date. Review a map beforehand and carry it with you. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not count on having cell phone service while on the run. The VHTRC is not responsible for your welfare on any of these runs. If you go on one of these runs and get lost, run out of water, get injured, mauled by a bear, or die, or if anything else goes wrong, it's your fault; not ours. You assume all risks here and the VHTRC assumes none at all. Legal issues aside, some of these runs are more remote than others and the VHTRC is not suggesting that you do any of these runs, unless you are prepared to accept full responsibility for yourself.