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  1. #1
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    Default Section Hike (Hot Springs to Damascus)

    My brother and I are planning a section hike in June (1st choice) or August. We plan to fly into Asheville NC and shuttle up to Hot Springs to start our hike. We will then hike to Damascus, VA. We will then shuttle to Roanoke, VA to fly home.

    Total trip miles about 200. We're still in the planning stages. Any tips, suggestions, experiences on the trail towns, shelters, hostels, etc., through this section would be appreciated!

  2. #2

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    It's a nice section. Fairly rugged section which seems like your going up hill all the time. I'm convinced there is no down hill in NC, although it does mellow out as you get close to VA.

    I would do June rather then August. It will be a little cooler in June and finding water will be less of a problem.

    The Mountain Harbor B&B has the best breakfast on the trail.
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  3. #3
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    The Boots Off Hostel is a nice place to stay in an area where a shelter has been closed for some time due to bear activity. It's around mile 428.
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  4. #4
    Registered User gungho's Avatar
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    My wife roots and myself provide shuttles in the Damascus and surrounding areas give us a call if you need any support 276-477-0555

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Registered User carouselambra's Avatar
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    Some of my memories from hiking (over several section hikes) that area:

    Hot Springs – You can’t go wrong eating at the Smoky Mountain Diner
    Hot Springs – The people that run the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge (Chuck and Tigger) are good people and have a reasonable priced shuttle

    Rich Mountain Lookout Tower – easy to get to and camping on the side trail up to the tower as well as under the tower

    Shelton Gravesite – read the history to understand what you are seeing.

    There is about a .25 mile area about 1.5 miles north of Devils Fork Gap that looks like it could be on an AT calendar as the trail snakes through a creek area blanketed by green groundcover.

    Hogback Ridge shelter – the view from the privy is very nice.

    There is a campsite that is 1.7 miles north of Sam’s Gap that is spectacular. It is marked as “meadow” in my older AWOL guide. There is a campsite just in the meadow and one just in the woods prior. Excellent views of Big Bald. It is dry so you must get your water between Sam’s Gap and the meadow.

    The last .5 mile up to Big Bald is steep in some parts and can be slick as there is a lot of seep across the trail.

    If you are a hammock camper, the “Hammock Shack” at Uncle Johnny’s is pretty sweet.

    I have camped at Toll House Gap rather than the Roan High Knob shelter. Bathrooms, water spigots, and trash cans are only a few hundred yards away.

    The area between Carver’s Gap and Hump Mountain is as wonderful as advertised.

    Mountain Harbour at 19E is a good place to recharge and clean up. I have only stayed in the hostel and I have not eaten the breakfast.

    The short side trail to Jones Falls is worth the trip.

    The trail between Vanderveeter shelter and Damascus is built for speed.

  6. #6
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    That whole section from HS to Damascus is great. But the Va Highlands which is just past Damascus is an area that should not be missed. Include them if you have the time. If you don't have the time, think about starting at Sams Gap and finishing at the Highlands. Logistically it would be easier and less expensive and to get a shuttle to Sam's Gap than it would be to Hot Springs. August is humid and thunderstorm prone - doable of course, but June would be far more tolerable weather wise. When I hike in August I start very early in the day, take a very long mid-day break, then hike until dusk in order to beat the heat and humidity. I never split my days up in June as the weather is much more hiker friendly.

  7. #7
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    Definitely June, not August, as others have suggested!! You did not mention how many days you have for your hike or what kind of hiking condition you are in. As Slo-go'en suggested, NC is either straight up or straight down...but absolutely a beautiful section!!
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  8. #8
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    To touch on a couple points others have made....the section from Hampton to Damascus is fast, and with a week of hiking under your belt, you could probably knock out the 45 miles in 2 days. Which leads to the other point above, maybe that then allows you to go further than Damascus and hit the Grayson Highlands, which are amazing. Just something to consider.

    Big Bald was gorgeous. I remember having it all to myself before sunset. It has been one of the more memorable moments I've had on the trail so far.
    Erwin is a cool town, hostel, motel, restaurants. I zero'd there.
    The climb out of Hot Springs sucked. Loaded with a big food carry to get me to Erwin, and all uphill, no trail legs at that point. I think I did 8 miles that day.
    Roan Highlands are still my favorite place along the trail, you're in for a treat!

    This is a great section. Hope you have a blast!
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the post! Hopefully we can continue working on our 'trail legs' without any setbacks and get up there early June. Looking over the elevation levels yes NC is a big climb!

    Thanks for the tip about the breakfast at The Mountain Harbor too ... We will definitely have to put that on the 'must stop' list!


    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's a nice section. Fairly rugged section which seems like your going up hill all the time. I'm convinced there is no down hill in NC, although it does mellow out as you get close to VA.

    I would do June rather then August. It will be a little cooler in June and finding water will be less of a problem.

    The Mountain Harbor B&B has the best breakfast on the trail.

  10. #10
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    Great tip thank you!


    Quote Originally Posted by ldsailor View Post
    The Boots Off Hostel is a nice place to stay in an area where a shelter has been closed for some time due to bear activity. It's around mile 428.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gungho View Post
    My wife roots and myself provide shuttles in the Damascus and surrounding areas give us a call if you need any support 276-477-0555

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    Hopefully all goes well and I'll be in touch for a shuttle to the Roanoke Airport. Thanks for posting.

  12. #12
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    Great post thanks for sharing! I'll be printing this off and checking it twice! Sure you can't come along as our guide!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by carouselambra View Post
    Some of my memories from hiking (over several section hikes) that area:

    Hot Springs – You can’t go wrong eating at the Smoky Mountain Diner
    Hot Springs – The people that run the hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge (Chuck and Tigger) are good people and have a reasonable priced shuttle

    Rich Mountain Lookout Tower – easy to get to and camping on the side trail up to the tower as well as under the tower

    Shelton Gravesite – read the history to understand what you are seeing.

    There is about a .25 mile area about 1.5 miles north of Devils Fork Gap that looks like it could be on an AT calendar as the trail snakes through a creek area blanketed by green groundcover.

    Hogback Ridge shelter – the view from the privy is very nice.

    There is a campsite that is 1.7 miles north of Sam’s Gap that is spectacular. It is marked as “meadow” in my older AWOL guide. There is a campsite just in the meadow and one just in the woods prior. Excellent views of Big Bald. It is dry so you must get your water between Sam’s Gap and the meadow.

    The last .5 mile up to Big Bald is steep in some parts and can be slick as there is a lot of seep across the trail.

    If you are a hammock camper, the “Hammock Shack” at Uncle Johnny’s is pretty sweet.

    I have camped at Toll House Gap rather than the Roan High Knob shelter. Bathrooms, water spigots, and trash cans are only a few hundred yards away.

    The area between Carver’s Gap and Hump Mountain is as wonderful as advertised.

    Mountain Harbour at 19E is a good place to recharge and clean up. I have only stayed in the hostel and I have not eaten the breakfast.

    The short side trail to Jones Falls is worth the trip.

    The trail between Vanderveeter shelter and Damascus is built for speed.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Bumpy View Post
    That whole section from HS to Damascus is great. But the Va Highlands which is just past Damascus is an area that should not be missed. Include them if you have the time. If you don't have the time, think about starting at Sams Gap and finishing at the Highlands. Logistically it would be easier and less expensive and to get a shuttle to Sam's Gap than it would be to Hot Springs. August is humid and thunderstorm prone - doable of course, but June would be far more tolerable weather wise. When I hike in August I start very early in the day, take a very long mid-day break, then hike until dusk in order to beat the heat and humidity. I never split my days up in June as the weather is much more hiker friendly.
    You bring up some good ideas … If we luck up with great weather and make good time to Damascus I would love to extend into the highlands!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Definitely June, not August, as others have suggested!! You did not mention how many days you have for your hike or what kind of hiking condition you are in. As Slo-go'en suggested, NC is either straight up or straight down...but absolutely a beautiful section!!
    Working hard on conditioning (daily) as we speak. I'm already about 20 pounds lighter than my last AT section hike so I feel great now but - time will tell. Were looking at a three week window. We have not planned out much beyond the thought of averaging a minimum of 10 mpd. Hopefully we can accomplish more per day but we know it's a pretty tough section for two older guys in fairly good shape.

  15. #15
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    Cool thanks for the tips. Were definitely looking forward to it. Yes I see the climb (map) coming out of Hot Springs. Definitely not the way I prefer to start but hey, will climb when called upon!

    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    To touch on a couple points others have made....the section from Hampton to Damascus is fast, and with a week of hiking under your belt, you could probably knock out the 45 miles in 2 days. Which leads to the other point above, maybe that then allows you to go further than Damascus and hit the Grayson Highlands, which are amazing. Just something to consider.

    Big Bald was gorgeous. I remember having it all to myself before sunset. It has been one of the more memorable moments I've had on the trail so far.
    Erwin is a cool town, hostel, motel, restaurants. I zero'd there.
    The climb out of Hot Springs sucked. Loaded with a big food carry to get me to Erwin, and all uphill, no trail legs at that point. I think I did 8 miles that day.
    Roan Highlands are still my favorite place along the trail, you're in for a treat!

    This is a great section. Hope you have a blast!

  16. #16
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    North of Hot Springs there is Hemlock Hostel and Laurel Trading Post hostel. Hemlock Hostel is a great stay and has some resupply if you wanted to carry less out of Hot Springs. Laurel Hostel was great about letting me leave a food drop there. That can also break up the food load if you can get that arranged. A shuttle from Hot Springs could help you set up both.

  17. #17
    Registered User The Old Chief's Avatar
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    From Damascus it is a lot closer to Tri-Cities Airport than the airport in Roanoke. 46 mile shuttle vs. a 130 mile shuttle.

  18. #18
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    i can shuttle you from damascus to roanoke for $170.00

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