Julie and I started our winding drive from Keuka Lake, NY to Melbourne, FL with a long hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the top of Old Rag. This was a challenging hike, not so much for the total elevation climb but for the rock scrambling required to get to the peak on the standard clockwise routing. We had perfect weather for the hike and enjoyed the variety throughout the trail.
There’s a way to reach the peak by doing an out-and-back along a fire road. This makes it a longer hike (likely over 10 miles) but avoids the crazy rock scrambling up the ridge trail. We did the standard loop routing and enjoyed the scrambling. It was like slot canyon scrambling to us, though with much harder granite rather than sandstone that we usually find in the southwest. We had to take our time and carefully navigate, but it was a worthwhile adventure.
We made it to the (very crowded) peak right at lunchtime and found a nice spot in the shade for some snacks.
We overheard some folks talking about the next part of the trail as being “very boring”. We loved it: a casual stroll through the woods with fall colors trending towards peak, and an aggressively running stream following us through much of the hike.