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Outdoor Activitiesin charlottesville

Outdoor Activities

From scenic hikes along the Blue Ridge Mountains to charming vineyard picnics, our guide unveils the best outdoor activities that make Charlottesville a haven for nature enthusiasts. Find your next adventure and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes that define this picturesque Virginia destination.

Old Rag Mountain

Old Rag Mountain has been named the most popular hiking destination in Shenandoah National Park. While it is not for the faint of heart due to the long trails, rock climbing, and substantial increase in elevation, those that embark on this journey will be blessed with breathtaking 360-degree views. Prior to your hike, it is recommended that you have a solid understanding of basic hiking safety, and have printed or downloaded the Old Rag trail map. Avid Old Rag hikers advise fanny packs over backpacks, camelbacks to ensure you stay hydrated, and protein-rich foods to keep your energy level high. One safety feature unique to Old Rag Mountain is the numbers placed along the trails in the event you are in need of Search and Rescue personnel. Weekdays are known to provide a less crowded environment, while weekends result in long lines at the parking lot and along the narrow rocky paths. Sadly our furry friends are prohibited from hiking the trails but are welcomed at the overnight camping sites.

Visitors are required to purchase a day-use and vehicle pass in advance between March 1 - November 30, 2022. See the links below to purchase.

Day pass

Vehicle pass

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Ragged Mountain Nature Area

Trail Map

A Verdant Haven

The heart of Ragged Mountain Nature Area is adorned with a diverse array of trees, creating a lush canopy that shelters visitors from the bustle of everyday life. Strolling through the forested trails, one encounters the stately presence of hickory, the vibrant hues of maple, the majesty of mature oak, the aromatic pine, and the soaring poplar trees. Each step in this natural wonderland is a testament to the rich biodiversity that thrives in this well-preserved sanctuary.

A Serene Lake Oasis

At the heart of the natural area lies a pristine lake, a vital component of the local community's water supply. The shimmering waters reflect the surrounding greenery, providing a scenic backdrop for visitors. While the lake offers a serene vista, it is important to note that swimming is not permitted to ensure the preservation of the ecosystem.

Wilderness Hiking at its Best

With seven miles of well-maintained trails, Ragged Mountain Natural Area beckons hikers to explore its varied terrain. From meandering paths through majestic forests to challenging routes along rugged landscapes, the trails cater to a range of hiking preferences. The proximity of this natural haven to Charlottesville means that residents can escape into the wilderness within minutes, making it an ideal retreat for those seeking a quick nature fix.

Respectful Recreation

While Ragged Mountain Nature Area encourages outdoor activities, it is essential to adhere to the guidelines in place to maintain the integrity of the environment. Boating is permitted, but with the caveat that only non-gas-powered motors are allowed, ensuring a peaceful experience for all. Furthermore, to preserve the delicate balance of the ecosystem, dogs are not allowed within the nature area.

Wildlife Wonders

Beyond the flora, Ragged Mountain Nature Area is teeming with wildlife. The carefully maintained trails allow visitors to catch glimpses of the diverse fauna, from elusive birds to skittering mammals. For nature lovers and birdwatchers, the area provides an excellent opportunity to observe and appreciate the local wildlife in its natural habitat.