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  1. #1
    Registered User Tuckahoe's Avatar
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    Default Grayson Highlands to Damascus

    Planning a hike from Grayson/Wise shelter to Damascus, Virginia for early to mid-October. Would love any insight from those that have hiked this portion of the trail.
    igne et ferrum est potentas
    "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." -​William Byrd

  2. #2
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    I did this stretch with Egads a couple years ago. Great stretch of trail.

  3. #3
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    Did VA 16 to Damascus last week. This is a great section to hike. Expect the area around the Thomas Knob shelter to have a good bit a overnight campers around. The weather should have turned already and the trees will be changing colors, which will be nice. Good smooth run pretty much all the way down to Damascus. Good trip!

  4. #4
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    Atkins to Damascus is my favorite hike - you picked a great section!

  5. #5

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    Hiked to Mt. Rogers this weekend, starting at Massie Gap. One cautionary word of advice for this section: Bring a hat and/or use sunscreen.

    I say this because we were in clouds the whole day, yet I still got a pretty nice sunburn on my face.

  6. #6
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    Nice section, enjoy. I am jealous of anyone out now whereit is cooler than 92F. At least there is no oil on the beach here.

  7. #7
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    You'll have great views in the Grayson Highlands SP area, as well as Elk Garden and the west side of Whitetop Mountain. Be prepared for sun protection. You'll be pretty exposed. I wore a full-brim hat the last time I hiked this section and was happier for it versus a ball cap.

    It will be cooler than the surrounding area because of the extra elevation. I hiked the area the last week of June. While Damascus was in the 90's, the highlands region was only in the upper 70's. Expect about a 10-15 degree difference before the Mt. Rogers area and Damascus. Plan accordingly.

    I would highly recommend considering a walk along the Virginia Creeper Trail for the last 10 or so miles into town, unless you are section hiking with the goal of eventually submitting paperwork for a full AT hike. Compared to the AT route, it is easier(very gentle downhill or flat), shorter (saves a couple of miles), has more open space for views, offers creekside walking and water nearly the whole way, and even gives the chance for a town break/meal at one of the snack bars or the cafe in Taylors Valley.

    And enjoy yourself. It's a fantastic walk.

    For some ideas, you can check this trip report from June.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  8. #8
    Section Hiker TexasEd's Avatar
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    I started at Dickey Gap last August for a 50 mile hike which we did in 3.5 days.

    Fox Creek is another popular starting point and puts you in before pine mountain where we found a lot of wild blueberries.

    The side trail to Mt Rogers is nice, but there is no view at the top since it is heavily forested.

    There is a section between Mt Rogers and Whitetop Mtn that you cannot camp in.

    Buzzard Rocks and the Rhododendron tunnel right after it were very cool.

  9. #9
    Registered User JEBjr's Avatar
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    October? I would wear some blaze orange, preferably some Va Tech Hokie Orange in SW Virginia. I think bow season starts October 2.

    Hiking the last few miles into town on the Creeper Trail might not be a bad idea. I don't recall many eventful sights between where the AT left the Creeper and Damascus. But the view in the Fall might be better from the ridge above Saunders Shelter. I could seldom get a view out because of all the foilage in May.

  10. #10
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    Awesome section!! Beautiful views!! Cool ponies!!
    NOBO section hiker, 1066.4 miles... & counting!!

  11. #11
    Registered User orangebug's Avatar
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    Bring carrots for the ponies. I echo the recommendations to start at Fox Creek and use the Va Creeper trail. There is no good reason to cross the road and climb that empty ridge just to walk into town. If weather is bad at all, there is absolutely no reason to White Blaze it. Get a better map than the ATC version, as there are multiple connecting blue blaze options between Fox Creek and Mt Rogers.

    A few years ago Almost There and I did 11 miles from Bear Gap (camped on the side trail in snow) into Damascus inside of 4 hours. We had hypothermia conditions and had to essentially run or freeze. The cafe wasn't open outside of tourist/bicycle season.

  12. #12
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    don't feed the ponies. seriously

  13. #13
    Registered User mtnkngxt's Avatar
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    I'll reiterate what Lone Wold said. DON'T FEED THE PONIES! The more people feed them the more they think people equal food, and the more they'll harass people in the highlands. Enjoy them, take a picture, and move on.

  14. #14
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    nor should you "handle, molest, or harass the ponies in any way" ,,, a request made by this sign...
    NOBO section hiker, 1066.4 miles... & counting!!

  15. #15
    Registered User JEBjr's Avatar
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    Parking might be safer at Masseys Gap, rather than Fox Creek. But I have never had problems at either place.

  16. #16
    Registered User Tuckahoe's Avatar
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    Thanks for the thoughts so far. And dont worry I have no interest in feeding or bothering the ponies.

    At the moment we're hoping to be able to park in Damascus and get a shuttle to Grayson Highlands.
    igne et ferrum est potentas
    "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." -​William Byrd

  17. #17
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    don't feed the ponies. seriously
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnkngxt View Post
    I'll reiterate what Lone Wold said. DON'T FEED THE PONIES! The more people feed them the more they think people equal food, and the more they'll harass people in the highlands. Enjoy them, take a picture, and move on.
    Quote Originally Posted by Big Dawg View Post
    nor should you "handle, molest, or harass the ponies in any way" ,,, a request made by this sign...
    In 1999, Biohazard and I were packing up at Wise Shelter when a pony tried to chew into Bio's foodbag in the top of his open pack. I shouted at it to no effect. I approached from the side and gave it a smack on its hind quarter. It immediately tried to square up on me.

    I grew up around horses and knew it was about to kick me, so I moved to the side, but if I hadn't I would have been hurtin for certain when it lashed out with both rear hooves. After that one kick, it wandered on, leaving us alone.

    On three trips to the area since, I've not had problems with the ponies while I was camping, but I make sure not to feed them.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  18. #18
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearpaw View Post
    but I make sure not to feed them.

    fed one once,,, but only what it was already eating on the ground...
    NOBO section hiker, 1066.4 miles... & counting!!

  19. #19
    Registered User orangebug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    don't feed the ponies. seriously
    Okay, my bad!

    I'm a bad Dad who brings the kids with carrots. I'll cut it out.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangebug View Post
    Okay, my bad!

    I'm a bad Dad who brings the kids with carrots. I'll cut it out.
    not a bad dad at all. but teach the kids to feed ALL animals not just ponies. bears included

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