View Full Version : Advice Wanted: Trail Days Plans

SGT Rock
04-21-2004, 09:52
I am planning on going to Trail Days this year, but I also want to get some hiking in while I am there. Honestly I am still a bit nervous in large groups, I have been told this is normal for someone just getting back.

So anyway, my thought was to drive to Damascus and park, then get a shuttle about 40-50 miles south and hike in for Trail Days. Since I have never been to Trail Days, I am wondering if this is a bad idea with all the people streaming in for the festival, or if it is a solid plan. An option would also be to wait until after Trail Days and do the same thing.

Any of you experinced with the Trail Days crowds and such have any suggestions?

04-21-2004, 10:09
I was thinking of trying to do this too Sgt, but my hiking time window is a little shorter than is yours. I will only have a couple of days at best to get some hiking in. Looking at the TD site, it looks like they are expecting 20-22K people there for the festivities.

04-21-2004, 10:33
I have never heard of trail days, is it real fun? I have down a little bit of studying on it after reading this post, but I do not have a grasp on what to expect from it.

Jack Tarlin
04-21-2004, 10:50
Rock, I think this is a fine plan, but you'll enjoy much better scenery if you hike in from the NORTH as opposed to the south; this will take you thru Grayson Highlands Park and ther Mt.Rogers area, which is spectacular. There are lots of road crossings; it'd be easy to figure out how many miles/days you wanted to do. But if I were you, I'd go three or four days North of Damascus and walk SOUTH rather than approach from the other side.

Lone Wolf
04-21-2004, 11:12
Sgt. Rock, you can park at my house and I'll shuttle you wherever you decide to go. Free of course. :)

04-21-2004, 11:54
Jack might be on to something here with his suggestion to hike from the north, rather than the south, of Damascus. The really pretty stuff between Erwin and Damascus ends after the Roan Highlands, and the 40-50 miles south of Damascus isn't super duper. I would imagine that hiking from the north into Damascus would see fewer people. Although, depending on when you start, you might run into Birdie and me hightailing it north.

04-21-2004, 12:08

35 years after getting out of "the bush" in Vietnam I STILL don't do well with big crowds!

Jack has the right idea. Come down from the north! Beautiful section of the trail, LOTS of places to access the trail and I KNOW L.W. knows 'em all!

Looks like a plan coming together.

I hope to be able to see ya' up there if my knee surgery recouperation has progressed sufficiently.

Enjoy all the peace and quiet you can find, Rock, you're home now buddy.


SGT Rock
04-21-2004, 12:24
I don't do crowds real well, and today I got reminded I still hate loud noises, especially explosions. Stupid honor battery was practicing a volley fire 200 meters from my troop HQ.

I have hiked the AT from Damascus all the way to the Ranger Station on VA16 by partnership shelter. You guys are right - some of the best trail out there. I often reccomend Greyson Highlands to people that are thinking about going to the Smokies or Shannendoa since that part of Virgina is great and doesn't seem to get as much in the way of crowds compared to the other two.

I may do that, go north and hike back in, but I was hoping to see some trail I haven't seen yet, plus the thought of maybe meeting some of the thru-hikers coming in to Trail Days to get me in the right frame of mind before hitting the place. That is something to take into consideration.

LW, I will take you up on the shuttle. I'll let you know when my plans get solid. I have an old CO that lives near Athens, TN I plan to see either on the way up or the way back, so I still have to get the overall plan together.

Y'all are great!

04-21-2004, 12:30
In this case, try hiking from 19E south to Erwin, then get a lift from Ms. Janet into Trail Days. This would be in the 40-50 range and would get you the best of the AT south of Damascus. The Roan range really is a great place to hike.

04-21-2004, 12:35

The Trail from Dennis Cove(KINCORA!) to Damascus is no slouch, so if new trail is what you want, start at Kincora and do the new section up Pond Flasts and on down past Watauga Lake and then up on the ridge for a really nice walk up to Damascus.

If you got time, I bet Bob Peoples (at Kincora) could put you to work on the trail for a day or six!

Wish I could walk with you, buddy.



04-21-2004, 12:38

All are right about the scenary north of Damascus, really pretty hiking. There is nothing wrong with the 40-50 miles south of Damascus and you do get to see Laurel Falls and Watauga Lake, but it's not spectacular. With that being said, its a pretty easier section to hike and has many shelters. Might be a very nice section to hike. I think it just gets lost in the shuffle for thru-hikers because its not up to snuff compared to the Roans, Humps, Highlands. Probably either way you hike to Damascus will be crowded, particularly going south to north. I'd love to see you at Traildays as im sure many others do too, but you might find the trail a nice place to be during traildays with less crowds. Could always just come for a day. Enjoy

SGT Rock
04-21-2004, 13:18
Chris, the 19E south to Erwin doesn't sound like a bad idea. I could drive top Erwin and then get a shuttle to US19E and hike back to the car provided Ms Janet will not be heading to Damascus until after the 9th or so. Then I guess I could play shuttle for anyone needing to get up to Trail Days on the 13th. I could still park at LWolf's and we could shoot guns in the house LOL.

Hacksaw, doing some trail work after Trail Days would be a cool idea. I could cut out on the 16th and head back south, then do a couple days work before driving back home. I have wanted to do some trail maintenance work. That may just fit in too.

A-Train. I honestly think that probably during some of the stuff, I will probably just cut out for a little bit and do some walking anyway. Using the VA Creeper and the AT, it might make a good loop one day if I get too tired of crowds.

OK, so that is some ideas. Keep them rolling, I LOVE this stie and this group.

Lone Wolf
04-21-2004, 14:28
*******! Now you're talkin, Rock. We could drink shine and shoot purists from the front porch! :jump

04-21-2004, 15:02
Miss Janet shuttled us from Erwin to Hwy 19 before the last snow weather. Kept my truck in her back yard. Very sweet lady indeed!~ We each gave her a 25 spot for her services. The hike itself was much needed time to clear the crud from the head hiking the beautiful balds. ( You'll love it Rock).
Hoping to also make it to Trail Days but wondering if a day trip from Asheville would be worth the effort...1000' of people?? Yikes!
Really wanna check out vendors, especially the hammock crowd, and other hikers.
Anyone feel I can do all that in a days time and not feel too rushed and still get home that evening?

SGT Rock
04-21-2004, 15:14
I have always wanted t o hike the balds. I think that is the plan.

Hey LW, should I bring my .308. I got a new one with a bull barrel, it is a real tack driver. We could always pait a wite blaze out front, sort of like hunting a baited field for them purists.

04-21-2004, 15:58

Last year my brother and I did the exact same thing (with the help from LW). See my write up here. (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1893)

We saw maybe 10-16 people the 3-days we hiked into town. Most of them were in one shelter (Thomas Knob??) the day it rain right-hard.

Maybe 4-5 were going south back into Damascus.

04-21-2004, 15:59
Sarge, I'm looking at doing the same as you - wanting to check out Trail Days for the first time but get some hiking in also and wanting to do about 50 miles. Here's my plan as of now; starting NORTH of Damascus and hike south - I figure there should be less crowds going south. So I'm figuring about 50 miles north of Damascus puts me around Hurricane Campground - just outside Grayson Highlands. (I read you can park my car at the Campground - does anyone know if this is still true - and how safe is it?)
I'll need a ride back from Damascus. Anyone have any feed back on this plan?

Uncle Wayne
04-22-2004, 01:45
I have an old CO that lives near Athens, TN I plan to see either on the way up or the way back, so I still have to get the overall plan together.

While you're in Athens, take the tour of the Mayfield Ice Cream plant. Free tour and afterward enjoy the largest $1 ice cream cone you've ever ate. :banana

04-22-2004, 08:35
I am planning on going to Trail Days this year, but I also want to get some hiking in... .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. .
So anyway, my thought was to drive to Damascus and park, then get a shuttle about 40-50 miles south and hike in for Trail Days.

Hey Sarge

This will be my first Trail Days too...look foward to meeting you.
My wife & I will be doing some hiking in the same general area too....possibly north of Damascus for a couple days...

your plan sounds like a winner...i'm not much on big crowds for long periods of time....thats why we're staying south of Damascus & driving in each day. :D

SGT Rock
04-22-2004, 08:54
OK, working on the suggstions of others, I have a tentative plan. I still have not heard back from my old CO in Athens yet:

May 8, drive to Erwin. Stay at Miss Janet's House and leave my car there.
May 9, get a shuttle to US 19E, hopefully get on the trail before 0830.
May 9, hike to probably somewhere around Overmountain shelter - about 9 miles.
May 10, hike to somewhere around Clyde Smith shelter - about 13 miles.
May 11, hike to somewhere around Beauty Spot - about 14.5 miles.
May 12, hike back into Erwin and clean up, then drive to Damascus. I can probably offer shuttle for about 3 hikers with packs to Trail Days. Don't know where to stay in Damascus yet, but I am sure I can find two trees somewhere. Is there a planned Hammock Hobo camp where I can "Hang Out" with some other hammock hikers?
May 13-16 Trail Days. If it gets to be too annoying with crowds, I can always get out of town on the VA Creeper or AT and do some day hiking. If not, I'll be shooting the purists off LWof's porch. I still don't know if I should bring the .308
May 17 Drive back south to Kincora and do some trail maintenance. I can offer shuttle back south to about 3 hikers with packs if they skipped ahead for Trail Days.
May 18, do more trail maintenance. maybe helps some people slack around the area.
May 19 Drive to Athens (if I hear from my buddy) if not, maybe I will do some hiking around Kinkora.

I hope to see a lot of y'all out there.

04-22-2004, 09:52
If not, I'll be shooting the purists off LWof's porch. I still don't know if I should bring the .308Unless LW has moved, about all you can shoot from his front porch is old farts in $100K motorhomes and thier poodles. But the world would be better off with a few less poodles.

But I'd give ya $10 to take out the "full of selfworth" a$$holes on horses that just about ran over folks along the creeper. I honestly don't think they even cared. They should be the ones in the parade that do their best to look like the local "good olde boys" from Hazard County.

Lone Wolf
04-22-2004, 10:28
Actually horses have priority over bikers and hikers on the Creeper Trail. It was first conceived as a horse trail. The right flank of my porch has a great field of fire. A 60 yard shot to the white blazes to bag a purist.

04-22-2004, 10:46
Actually horses have priority over bikers and hikers on the Creeper Trail. I understand that horses have priority over bikes and hikers, but these folks were not just walking their horses up and down the trail. They were doing at least a trot, if not a gallop. Sort of like steamrollin' hikers out of the way. I think they thought it was funny.

I forgot about your side porch. Still aim a bit higher and you can take out one of the folks on horseback.:D

04-26-2004, 10:03

It looks like your plans include going to Kincora after Trail Days and doing trail work. I suggest that you plan to hook up with Bob Peoples for the Trail Days Hard Core work party.

04-26-2004, 10:44
Historically, Bob Peoples has used the Damascus Post Office parking lot as the gathering place for trail work volunteers on Sunday morning, prior to making the trip back down to Kincora.