The Appalachian Trail is one of the world’s most famous footpaths, a continuously marked trail spanning 2200 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Damascus is about 450 miles north of Springer and 1750 miles south of Katahdin. The “AT” runs right through the heart of downtown, with its blaze marked along Main Street.
For the thru-hiker Damascus has a range of resources available, including a laundry facility, pharmacy and registration station (at the post office), plus several hostels, B&Bs, outfitters, shuttle services and small stores for supplies.
The AT is maintained entirely by volunteers working through a system of 31 regional trail clubs — the section of the AT that runs through Damascus is maintained by the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club, which oversees about 60 miles of trail going north from the TN/VA border. MRATC welcomes all hikers to volunteer for trail work, or to join them for social hikes. The club serves as an authority on local trails, with knowledgeable members who are able to answer most questions about hiking in the area. To contact the club directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Damascus lies at the intersection of 13 local, state and national trails and is adjacent to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (which boasts 400 miles of trails) and several other public lands, so there are many nearby loop trails to be explored. For suggestions on specific routes, check out our Short Day Hikes and Backpacking Trips near Damascus brochures.
Virginia Creeper Trail
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a multiple-use trail that spans 34.3 miles from Whitetop Mountain to Abingdon, VA. The trail is open to walkers, joggers, horses and bikers, though biking is the option for visitors. Damascus has a variety of rental and shuttle services available.
The trail is maintained by the Virginia Creeper Trail Club, a volunteer organization. The club meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 7PM at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon. For more information about the club, visit their Website.
Iron Mountain Trail — North
The Iron Mountain Trail, now blazed yellow, was part of the Appalachian Trail until 1972, when the AT was relocated to the south. This path bore the footsteps of the very first AT hikers, including Myron Avery, Gene Espy and Grandma Gatewood, to name a few. This beautiful and historic 24 mile trail, running from Damascus to VA16 at Iron Mountain Gap, is now enjoyed 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.
Iron Mountain Trail — South
From Damascus south the Iron Mountain Trail is about 23 miles long ending near Tennessee Highway 91. This section is designated as 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 exist. 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.
Other Local Trails
For more information about hiking in the area, visit or call 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.