View Full Version : Changing section last minute...?! Need help!

05-14-2015, 11:47
Hey all,

I was planning on doing a section of the AT through TN into Damascus (Watauga Lake to Damascus), but I have not found any info on side trails or gotten any positive feedback on the section.

I want to section hike the trail, and prefer to start close to home. I live in NC and for this hike I only have 9 days to get to a location, spend a week on the trail, and make it back to civilization.

Any suggested routes, favorite spots? The more remote and technical the better.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

05-14-2015, 12:12
The Watauga section is pretty easy, and not terribly interesting. If you have the gear, experience, and conditioning to go for a more challenging and interesting section, you can certainly do that. You might like hiking through Shenandoah National Park - it's a big farther away, but worth the drive. You could go north from Damascus (includes the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands). You could give the Smokies a try.

We've done almost half the trail now, and when we have 9 days available, we fly north to do a section that's really too far to drive to. You live at least 3-4 hours farther from the trail than we do. I hope you can find time to get out there and enjoy. There's a lot of miles to explore, but most of them aren't close by.

05-14-2015, 12:33

Thanks you very much! I'm glad i got some feedback on the Watauga section. Someone else also suggested that we start at Damascus and head North from there. Damascus is only 2.5 hours from where we are located, so getting there shouldn't be a problem at all!
We are only going for 7 days and don't want to do more than 70 miles, so we wont be able to cover the 100+ miles of AT in the park.
I want to spend time day hiking down intersecting trails, and do some exploration, rock climbing, fishing etc.
Any specific spots along the trail in Shenandoah you recommend as a must see?


05-14-2015, 13:21
We haven't explored much of Shenandoah, and have only done about 2/3 of the AT through there, so I don't know very much. I do know a little:
We took an exploratory trip to Shenandoah a few years back, and did a loop that went down off the AT and then back up. The AT through SNP is gentle, but the trails down off the ridge and back up can be quite steep!

On our list to hike next year is Old Rag, somewhere in the northeast part of SNP, not on the AT. I understand it's a challenging rock scramble, which we'll use as a prep for some rugged stuff elsewhere.

Don't feel like you have to commit to all 100 miles of SNP. Go as far as you want or have time for, and then go home. Plenty of places to get off the trail. Same is true for everything between Damascus and SNP. Plenty of trail there to explore - McAfee's Knob, Tinkers Cliff, and some things we haven't seen yet, particularly Dragon's Tooth.

That's not so true for the Smokies. Only road access is at each end and at Newfound Gap Road, so you do need to be committed to at least half of the 70 miles. Best of luck to you!

05-14-2015, 13:21
The Watauga section is great in the winter. In the summer it's lower elevation, hotter, and there are few or no views at all.

Given your time frame I would drive to Damascus and get a shuttle north to Partnership Shelter (~65 miles) or Atkins (~75 miles). That's a lovely section with some good views, interesting locations, and wild ponies.