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  1. #1
    Registered User nitegaunt's Avatar
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    Default Suggestions for group hike in Damscus/Grayson area

    I am very familiar with Grayson Highlands park/Mt. Rogers vicinity but I need a couple of suggestions for a hike. I have done Carver's Gap to Damascus but I haven't done the portion from Damascus to Grayson. So, here is my question. I have a friend coming into town who would like to hike for about 2 nights/3days. I also have two other friends who are interested in hiking in the area at the same time. It will be the last week of this month (August). So, I was thinking that we, instead of all hiking together, might organize something where one group parked in Damascus and the other at Grayson. Then meet up at some point and go to on car or the other to pick up the other car. Does that make sense? Anyway, suggestions would be appreciated for a good logistics plan. Thanks. By the way, my friend from out of town has never been to Grayson.

  2. #2
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    "So, I was thinking that we, instead of all hiking together, might organize something where one group parked in Damascus and the other at Grayson. Then meet up at some point and go to on car or the other to pick up the other car. Does that make sense?"

    Yes, your shuttle plan could work. People sometimes meet and "trade car keys" along the trail. An even better plan would be to each of you to being along to the hike two sets of car keys (your own plus a spare/lender set). That way you could lend out your keys before the hike begins. Your two groups will probably meet somewhere during your three day, 33 mile hike, but you can't be completely sure that such a meeting will occur. Detouring to campsites, shelters, beauty spots, and springs sometimes takes hikers away from the AT for a while. And, there are places where some of you might want to walk for a while on one of the other attractive trails that parallel that section of the AT. (The Virginia Creeper is such a trail, as is the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.)

    Last month I hiked, very slowly, a 65 mile loop, going back and forth between G.H. State Park and Damascus. I walked mostly on the AT and the Iron Mountain Trail. It's a wonderful area. If by chance some of you want to do a hike shorter than Damascus-G.H. State Park, numerous loop hikes of varying lengths can also be done in the area,combining AT segments with portions of attractive connecting trails.

  3. #3
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    My first reaction is that your friends will spend most of their time in the green tunnel, and very little in the High Country. There are several loops you could do that would provide a nice 2-night hike and get more time on the open balds.

    How far do you want to hike? The shortest loop is to park in GHSP and do the AT/Pine Mtn Trail loop but add the AT out to the Mt Rogers spur. That's maybe 17 or 18 mile total, and it catches most of the great open balds. A longer loop would start at Elk Garden and take the AT nobo all the way to Old Orchard Shelter, then cut back up the Lewis Fork Trail to the Mt Rogers Trail to Deep Gap, then sobo on the AT to your car. That misses the PMT but gets the north side of Mt Rogers, which is pretty cool.

    Every time I'm up there I want to spend more time hanging out and looking at the view than hiking.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  4. #4
    Registered User BigBlue's Avatar
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    I would do an Iron Mountain/AT loop. You could preplan the distance or just play it by ear, the trails parallel each other with many points to cross between the two.

  5. #5
    Registered User nitegaunt's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions! I like the swap keys idea. Everyone in the group are pretty regular hikers so we shouldn't have a problem setting a meeting point. I do like the Iron Mountain/AT suggestion, too, BigBlue. I don't have my map on hand but I know the IMT goes into Damascus but I am not sure where it leaves Damascus.

  6. #6
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    "My first reaction is that your friends will spend most of their time in the green tunnel, and very little in the High Country. There are several loops you could do that would provide a nice 2-night hike and get more time on the open balds."

    That's a good point.. Also, it's about 11 AT miles, mostly quite scenic, from Massie Gap in GH State Park to Whitetop mountain. If you continue southbound after Whitetop you'll then stay in the "tunnel". To make a Massie Gap-to-Whitetop hike into a loop you could use the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail for most of the return trip (Elk Garden to Massie Gap). Confession--I haven't hiked the horse trail portion of that particular loop yet. It's at the top of my "to do" list.

  7. #7

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    Looking to do a section of the AT thru Grayson/Mt Rogers (VA 600 to VA 603) with my scout troop. If we stop near the Wise shelter are there suitable places to hang hammocks? Almost all the crew will have hammocks and would prefer not to sleep in a shelter.

  8. #8
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Yes, but you need to be on the National Forest land, not in the state park. Just make sure you're on the north side of the bridge over Quebec Branch (a couple hundred yards AT-north of Wise Shelter) -- there are many very nice campsites along the creek if you look to the left after you cross the bridge. Climb to the level area above the creek bottom. Walk back upstream along the creek and you'll find them.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  9. #9

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    Great! thanks for the information.

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