View Full Version : Southwest Va. spring break planning

01-07-2019, 14:42
I was hoping someone familiar with the area can help me clarify some section hiking questions for Damascus to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area Headquarters. I was thinking about a 60 mile section.

1. Are you allowed to camp in shelters when space is available or LNT dispersed camping along this section?
2. Wanting to make sure there are No camping reservations required?
3. Is a permit or registration required for section hiking this area?

I appreciate any help


Lone Wolf
01-07-2019, 15:05
no permits required. first come first served in shelters

01-07-2019, 17:14
That section is a free for all. I do recommend camping at shelter sites (either in the shelter or a tent near-by) for convenience and to minimize impact. Spring break (that's in March right?) it should be quiet. Look out for bad weather though.

The only exception is at the shelter 300 yards from the MRNRA Headquarters. No tenting allowed, but you'll be exiting there.

03-10-2019, 08:51
A bear box was placed at Thomas Knob shelter late last summer due to bear problems at the shelter. Staying there and using the box for all items that might attract a bear could help prevent a recurrence of the problems experienced last year. An electric fence was placed around a lone tree (for food bags) near Rhododendron Gap in an area used by tent campers for the same reasons.

03-10-2019, 19:51
This is a nice section. It is ~65 miles from the Mt Rogers National Recreation Area Headquarters building to Damascus. That makes for a great 5-7 day hike. I've done it in both directions, and would hike southbound from the HQ to Damascus if doing it again.* The first day is relatively easy, then you get some good climbs, and enter the open high country for a couple of days, then back into the gorge and into town.

March can be cold and wet, but you'll get a lot of good views and wild ponies in the open areas. You may sleep inside the shelters, or tent nearby, or tent camp pretty much anywhere along that stretch except for a few miles around the summit of Mt Rogers (which is marked.) No permits needed. You can park in Damascus and get a ride to the HQ.

*an alternate flip-flop hike plan, which we did a few years ago: park at the backpacker parking area at Grayson Highlands State Park. It costs a few bucks a day to do so, but it's safe. This is the halfway point between the HQ and Damascus. Hike southbound to Damascus, which will take 2.5 days or so. Get a room at one of the B&B's or hostels, have a night in town, get a shower, and resupply at the grocery store (just outside, but walking distance.) Enjoy hanging out. In the morning, have a shuttle that you pre-arranged take you from Damascus to the HQ building. Walk southbound to your car. The advantage to this hike is being able to get the "town experience" of a long distance hike, and only need to carry 3 days of food at a time.

Happy trails!