barnard mountain SOTA

Robertson Mountain, Virginia

Robertson Mountain (W4V/SH-011) is the sister mountain to the overly popular mountain, Old Rag. Both summits are located within Shenandoah National Park in Virgina. While Old Rag is overwhelmed with hikers, sometimes with more than 200 people a day, Robertson is often ignored. Robertson is considered one of the hardest summits to climb within the park.

Summit Information:

Summit Name: Robertson Mtn, (W4V/SH-011)

Location: Nethers, Va

Latitude/Longitude: 38.5701, -78.3426

Date: January 2th, 2021

Parking: Free


Points: 8 + 3 (Winter Bonus)

County: Madison County

Grid: FM08tn

Weather: Partly cloudy, 37 degrees

Permit: Yes, $5 Entrance fee

Robertson Mountain Map

Sugarloaf Mountain




On a Scale of 1 to 5

Robertson mountain is accessed at the same trailhead as Old Rag which is an issue since Old Rag, for some unknown reason is incredibly popular. As a result, parking at the trailhead is always a nightmare, regardless of the time of year. Ideally you should arrive around 7am to get a parking spot. Recently, SNP expanded the trailhead parking lot to three different lots and added a trail that connects to the start of the Old Rag trailhead. Apparently they wanted to move people off the road that went by several houses. While my wife and I weren’t doing Old Rag, the new trail did give us access to Robertson.

We arrived pretty late due to the drive and after showing the park ranger our annual pass (thanks to my mother in law), we headed down the access trail along with several other people. Not far in we were able to split off to the fire road which would lead us to the Robertson trail head.

Old Rag Map

Barnard SOTA log

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After several miles we arrived at the trailhead for Robertson and started to climb. While it is only 2.3 miles and 1700 feet climb to the summit, it was a pretty good work out. My wife wasn’t feeling that great so our pace was a little slower than normal.

I had activated this summit several winters ago and really enjoyed the quiet and solitude as I was the only one up at the top. I was hoping for the same today.

The weather was pretty decent for January. Mid 30’s, no wind and partly sunny. For these conditions Patagonia shorts,  Capaline base layer and the R1 top are my go to hiking clothes. The Capaline and R1 top breathe incredibly well and do a really good job of keeping me dry as I hike. As long as I was moving at a good clip, I stayed warm. Winter hiking is always a balance of staying warm and dry.

Once we got to the summit, I got on 2 meters which was packed full of locals and other SOTA activators. Made some quick contacts and had planned on going to HF but I was having an incredible hard time finding a decent spot to hang my Packtenna End Fed antenna. I recently add a new trap and wire which added more length to the antenna and as a result I couldn’t find a good area to hang it.

While I was messing around trying to solve this problem, my wife made coffee and we decided to call it a day. I had originally planned on activating Old Rag but considering the quickly diminishing daylight, we  hiked back to the car.

If you decided to activate Old Rag or Robertson, my suggestion is avoid the Old Rag parking lot and hike down from the Skyline drive. This puts you on the backside of both summits and away from other people.

Beef Jerkey Time! 

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