Adventures in the Southern Appalachians & Beyond!  





VA859 (Whitetop Laurel Creek) TO DAMASCUS

April 4th & 5th, 2009 - Shannon and I had a nice overnight backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail just north of Damascus with our good friends Amy McMurray, Erick McMurray, Chuck Farmer, and Chuck's great dog "Boone".  We started at the graveled road VA859, which is a little north of Creek Junction, and we went south on the A.T., working our way toward Damascus.   


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On the Creeper Trail at Creek Junction

  Pond Near Bear Tree Gap
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Boone, Erick, and Chuck Taking a Break   Amy, Shannon, and Erick

On the first day we hiked briefly on the Creeper Trail before making our climb up Straight Mountain.  We almost decided to spend the night at Saunders Shelter, but we had a lot of daylight left so we went ahead and made the decent down into Taylor's Valley.             

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Views from Straight Mountain   Shannon Coming Down Straight Mountain
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View of Whitetop Mountain - Virginia's Second Highest Peak   Chuck and Erick on the Decent Into Taylor's Valley
After the long descent, we found a nice campsite adjacent to the Whitetop Laurel stream.  We set up camp, built a fire, and had a great dinner.  We were glad we went the extra miles to get down into the valley as the temperatures were a lot warmer and it wasn't as windy.    

We hiked 8.0 miles on day-one.        

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  Our Tent
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Sunset from our Campsite   Shannon -Cozy by the Fire
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Whitetop Laurel at Dusk

It got down to about 30 degrees during the night, but everyone seemed to stay warm.  After getting the fire going again and some coffee, we got packed up and back on the trail pretty early.     

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Packing Up in the Morning  

Shannon and Amy - Early on Day Two

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Erick   Nice View from Feathercamp Ridge

Day-two warmed up quickly, especially while making the climb up to Feathercamp Ridge and "The Cuckoo".  We then descended again back down to Highway 58, where the A.T. re-joins the Creeper Trail, for our final walk into the town of Damascus.  

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Erick and Chuck Enjoy the Vista   Shannon on the Creeper Trail Near Damascus
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Shannon and Amy Near the End of the Hike

We finished off our hike with cheeseburgers at Dots in Damascus.  They were awesome!    

On day-two we hiked 6.6 miles, for a total trip of 14.6 miles.      


Total Miles Hiked:  14.6

Getting There:  


Driving - From Interstate 81, take exit 19 toward Damascus.  Drive 10.9 miles through the town of Damascus, and then take a left on highway 58.  Continue to VA58 for approximately 9 miles (this is an estimate), and take a right on VA859, which is Grassy Ridge Road.  This is a graveled road that will cross the Appalachian Trail in a few tenths of a mile.  


Trails - From VA859 we went south on the Appalachian Trail (going downhill from the road).  Follow the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail.  The A.T. will soon join the Creeper Trail where you'll need to watch out for the bikers.  Once leaving the Creeper Trail, the A.T. climbs up to Bear Tree Gap and Straight Mountain.  Saunders Shelter is on this ridgeline.  We opted to continue down the mountain into Taylor's Valley, where there are some great tent sites right next to the Whitetop Laurel Stream.  From here we kept going south on the A.T. where it makes another tough climb up Feathercamp Ridge, and then another steep descent back down into the town of Damascus.  Once near Damascus the A.T. re-joins the Creeper Trail.        


Hike Rating -


Bill's Overall Rating:

Distance:  14.6 miles

Difficulty:  DIFFICULT

Type: Continuous

Vista Rating: 

Waterfall Rating:  NONE

Water Crossings:  numerous EASY

Scrambling/Climbing:  NONE

Hazards:  slippery slopes

Significance:  Appalachian Trail, A.T. shelters (1), Virginia Creeper Trail

Recommendation:  average backpack


Click here for hike rating reference guide.




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