The "AT" is a continuously marked trail from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, a distance of about 2200 miles. Damascus is about 450 miles north of Springer and 1750 miles south of Katahdin. The AT blaze goes right down our main street.
For the thru-hiker Damascus has a range of resources available, including a hostel, laundry facility, pharmacy, registration station at the post office, e-mail service in town, several B&B's, a outfitter store, shuttle services and small stores for supplies.
There are loop trails throughout the area. Click here for a PDF brochure of local hikes
There are over 400 miles of trails in the nearby National Recreation Area.
The Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club maintains about 60 miles of the AT both in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area north of Damascus and south of Damascus to the Tennessee line. Contact information for this club is P.O. Box 789, Damascus, VA 24236. Website: www.mratc.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. They will welcome you as a volunteer.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a multiple-use trail connecting Abingdon, Virginia, with the Virginia-North Carolina line 1.1 miles east of Whitetop Station, Virginia. The total trail length is 34.3 miles. Walkers, bicyclists and horses are welcome on the trail - no motorized vehicles. Bicycle rental and shuttle services are available. For further information go to this website: Virginia Creeper Trail, a site which focuses on the area between Alvarado and Whitetop Station.
The Virginia Creeper Trail Club, a volunteer organization, advocates for, maintains and improves the trail. They meet on the last Wednesday of each month at 7PM at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon. The club website isVirginia Creeper Trail Club,
The Iron Mountain Trail, now blazed yellow, was part of the Appalachian Trail until 1972, when the AT was relocated to the south. Along this path were the steps of the first AT hikers, like Myron Avery, Gene Espy and Grandma Gatewood, to name a few. This beautiful and historic 24 mile trail, from Damascus to VA16 at Iron Mountain Gap is now shared by many users, yet it has less users than the AT. Hikers, bikers and equestrians co-exist partly because of the vision of the Iron Mountain Trail Club. The trail passes through luxuriant forest, generally following the mountain crest with few steep, long ascents or descents. The views to the south are superb. Except for the parts along the ridgecrest, this trail has ample water. There are three shelters, a number of campsites and many combinations of circuit hikes using the Iron Mountain Trail.
From Damascus south the Iron Mountain Trail is about 23 miles long ending near Tennessee Highway 91. This section is designated a footpath only and traverses mostly roadless areas within the Cherokee National Forest. It is clearly blazed but is rugged and less maintained than its northern route. This section is a much better hike for those looking for a wilderness experience. There are no shelters but a number of campsites exists. The views are spectacular. This is an excellent circuit hike when combined with the Appalachian Trail at Highway 91 - a total loop of about 45 miles.
Go to Mount Rogers Outfitters or Sundog Outfitters and ask the staff about local hikes. Most of them are experts and can tell you of places not known to most visitors.