LURAY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new parking area at Old Rag Mountain will be opening to the public on Thursday.

The Shenandoah National Park says the new parking area is near Eltan and it was built to provide improved access to the Old Rag area hiking trails.

According to a release, this new parking area is closer to the trails than the old, leased lot, and it allows visitors to remain in the national park without hiking on Nethers Road.

SNP says the new parking lot will be the primary lot and the old lot will only be used when the primary one has filled up.

That old lot will be divided into two sections, one for parking and the other to stage emergency operations when needed.

The release says this is not intended to increase public use at Old Rag but to provide better access because it secures public access to Old Rag on National Park Service property.

New trails have been built to provide access to the existing ones, including the Ridge Trail Trailhead, which is located in the new lot.

The Old Rag Access Trail connects the old parking lot with the new one, and SNP asks people to remain on the trail when using it because it is built across the private property of a local landowner.

Part of the old Ridge Trail has also been renamed the Ridge Access Trail, providing access to the Ridge Trail from the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.

The release says a new fee station building is located in the new lot so that all visitors can check-in. If the station is closed, visitors will need to pay the park entrance fee at a self-pay station.

There is also a vault toilet next to the fee station and an emergency phone on the outside of the fee station's building.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Shenandoah National Park Trust helping make the new trail access and parking area possible.