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  1. #1
    Registered User FooFooCuddlyPoops's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Section Hiker Planning help?

    Hey guys,

    I am planning my second attempt at a section hike starting at Damascus around trail days. I will not have a lot of funds so I can not hike more than a few days.

    My basic plan, take a bus between Friday & Saturday, the hike starts Sunday morning with the rest of the hikers, and I stop at the next town over or find a loop to go back to Damascus.

    What is a good loop (At mostly but maybe loop back around on side trails to Damascus?)

    Or, start at Damascus and end at which town for a ride back/bus station?

    I am a medium to fast hiker depending on groove, probably 10-mile max a day. I can do more, I just don't want to depend on being able to hike more if you know what I mean?

    Personally, I need to start at Damascus during trail days because of my failed section hike last year. You read about people not getting out of the car all the time. You think that will never be me I love hiking. But, I chickened out on my big summer adventure hike of Virginia last year. We got to Damascus, hung out, slept in a hotel, and then when it came to me getting out of the car....I didn't. We turned around and left.

    Boy, do I regret it. It's a huge sting to my ego as a hiker. I knew I should have gone back but by the time I made it home I was making plans for the rest of the summer that I wouldn't be able to back out of.

  2. #2
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    Grayson Highlands Park (where the wild ponies are) is about 25 miles north of Damascus. Beautiful area, and plenty of loop options. Not sure what your definition of "a few days" is, but you could probably spend a week wandering around GHP.

    Or, if you've got a week, maybe you'd just continue north to Atkins, VA. That's 75 miles.

  3. #3
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    Understood.

    Several options for that area. I do think the key is to make it to the Mt Rogers High Country area, which is the highlight of the region. Open balds, wild ponies, views, etc. This starts around 20 miles north of Damascus at Buzzard Rock on Whitetop, then continues again around mile 25 at Elk Garden and past the side trail to Mt Rogers summit and down Wilburn Ridge and around past Scales (you can find these places on the map). I'd strongly recommend the ~40 mile hike from Damascus to VA603 at Fox Creek. From there it shouldn't be too difficult to hitch a ride back to Damascus (it's a reasonably straight shot for that area), or you can arrange a fairly-priced shuttle with Lone Wolf here on Whiteblaze. If you have time you can make a loop and walk back to Damascus on the Iron Mountain Trail, though I think this loop would take a week or so for a 10mpd pace.

    If you have very limited time, like three days, then I'd recommend starting further north of Damascus and doing a loop around Mt Rogers. The trail between Damascus and the high country is nice, walking through a beautiful gorge and all, but it's not the same. Happy to make some specific recommendations if you PM me.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  4. #4

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    Seeing that you can't get a bus directly to Damascus and have limited funds which probably means you don't want to pay for a shuttle, the best option is to take the bus to Marion, VA and walk south to Damascus. You can make a loop out of it by using the Iron Mountain and Virginia creeper trail.

    Get on the AT at the Partnership shelter and hike south. About 3/4 mile south of the Hurricane Mountain shelter you will come to the Virginia horse trail. Turn right and in a mile or two it connects to the Iron Mountain trail. This is actually the old AT and has a couple of old shelters along it. You can connect back to the AT or to the Virginia creeper trail to get into Damascus.

    Then you can take the AT back to Marion over the Grayson Highlands. Or you could do it the other way around. Marion to Damascus via the iron Mountain trail takes 3 days, Damascus back to Marion via the AT is like 5 or 6 days.

    You will need a map since there are a bunch of trails which connect to the Iron Mountain trail and keeping track of the right path is a little tricky. The Nat Geo map for the Mount Rogers High Country /Grayson Highland area shows the trails. Looks like that would be map #318.

    I've done this loop several times.
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  5. #5
    Registered User FooFooCuddlyPoops's Avatar
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    Hey guys.

    I read your posts. In still trying to figure out my plan. I believe I am going to get to damascus sat, hike Sunday morning on to the next trail town. That way I hit the Grayson highlands.

    I am still not sure what I am going to do vehicle wise. Driving is cheaper, but I still have to worry about shuttling back to my car, and parking.

    Any ideas on parking? I do want to go to trail days for one day.

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    Park in Grayson Highlands somewhere (I usually park at Elk Garden, but it's south of ponies and wouldnt really work for your purposes I guess) and get shuttled to Damascus for trail days. Then hike to your car.

    Call some shuttlers and see how much it would cost. Factor that in to your budget.

    I mean, look at a map, decide how many days you want to hike, and pick a parking spot that many miles away from Damascus. Then find a shuttle. Or park in Damascus and hike away from your car, but if you really want to make sure you hike, then don't give yourself the option of just driving away, I guess.


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    If you want to leave out of Damascus on April 30th my friend and I are staying at woodchuck hostel on the 29th. We are going to hike to Atkins in 7 days. My truck will be there waiting on us. If your there, you can ride back to Damascus with us.

  8. #8
    Registered User FooFooCuddlyPoops's Avatar
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    Hey again.

    I officially figured out my basic plan. I started school today, spring break, and got into a small accident so the week has been pretty busy.
    sorry for the half ass post earlier. Ha.

    I am definitely going to start at Damascus and hike to Troutdale. From looking at my guide, it's roughly 49 miles with mount rogers, and the ponies. As far as transportation, I have not gotten that far yet. I am loosely planning to drive down, and park at the Mt Rogers outfitters, but that and a shuttle would cost me an arm and a leg. $50 shuttle plus $5 parking during the 5 days I am hiking.

    I am not going to bash anyone, nor am I saying the price is steep per say, but are there any other cheaper options for parking & shuttle? I don't want to backtrack too much. Having to shuttle twice from a parking lot to Damascus, than end point to parking lot seems like it would be more expensive?

  9. #9
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    I just saw the lone wolf comment. Going to also reach out to the local facebook crew. I'll figure this out. It's just a matter of research.

    But thank you everyone for commenting.

  10. #10
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    Also. to the person going in april. I have to start late may because of school. :-(

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    Quote Originally Posted by FooFooCuddlyPoops View Post
    ... I am definitely going to start at Damascus and hike to Troutdale. From looking at my guide, it's roughly 49 miles with mount rogers, and the ponies. As far as transportation, I have not gotten that far yet. I am loosely planning to drive down, and park at the Mt Rogers outfitters, but that and a shuttle would cost me an arm and a leg. $50 shuttle plus $5 parking during the 5 days I am hiking.

    I am not going to bash anyone, nor am I saying the price is steep per say, but are there any other cheaper options for parking & shuttle? I don't want to backtrack too much. Having to shuttle twice from a parking lot to Damascus, than end point to parking lot seems like it would be more expensive?
    A few things to consider:
    If you do a loop, you may be able eliminate the shuttle entirely.
    Sometimes we've paid to park, but not often. Perhaps consider a roadside/trailhead parking option.
    If you don't want to loop, could you park at one endpoint, and hitchhike to the other?

  12. #12
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    I just thought of that. What's a good parking spot around mt rogers, etc area? I would like to hike all the way to mt rogers at least. I am not familiar with the area, and my researching old posts and google is failing me.

    I am guessing my best bet is to check the map for road crossing and at parking after mt roggers.

  13. #13
    Registered User FooFooCuddlyPoops's Avatar
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    Is it still bad to park at the fox creek intersection of the AT?

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