SYRIA, Va. — In an attempt to provide accessibility to the difficult but widely popular hiking destination, the National Park Service (NPS) has announced plans to install escalators at Old Rag Mountain, located within Shenandoah National Park.
Christina Nguyen, a spokesperson for NPS, explained that they intend to add an option for park visitors who don’t want to take on the multi-mile trails with their steep inclines and a unique rock scramble toward the mountain’s summit.
“Old Rag is a favorite among hiking enthusiasts across the state,” Nguyen said, noting that the various trail options all provide at least moderate difficulty for hikers. “Whether you’re starting on the park’s eastern boundary or utilizing the Old Rag Fire Road towards Skyline Drive, it’s a strenuous trip, which is why we’re excited to add an easier route for your adventure.”
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According to Nguyen, entry for the uphill escalator will be situated near the trailhead of the Ridge Trail. From there, the escalator’s incline will cut into the forest, reaching its drop-off point just past the popular rock scramble portion of the trail. A parallel escalator will also be installed for those unwilling to hike the downward slope. Once completed, the total length of the escalators will surpass two miles, providing passengers with scenic views and the chance to see deer and other wildlife.
“We’re excited to provide an option for those who want to take it a little easier on the trail while improving their Instagram game,” Nguyen continued. “We’re combining motorized transportation used in suburban department stores with nature to bring everyone an accessible and carefree experience of one of Shenandoah’s most beloved hikes for the low cost of $14.50 each way, in addition to the park entrance permit.”
Nguyen ended her statement by assuring the public that while some areas of beautiful forest will have to be cut down during the construction, it will come at no cost to taxpayers, as Dominion Energy has happily volunteered to raze numerous parts of the mountain for free.