The Damascus to Low Gap section of the AT is a great spring hike for any of those who are
interested in getting into hiking/backpacking. Easy enough to be a day hike and long enough to be a
backpacking trip, this section of the AT is perfect for people of all skill levels and offers plenty of
ridge line views without the struggle of continuous climbs up and down the mountains of Southwest VA.
Starting off in the small town of quiet town of Damascus, the trail takes an immediate climb that
puts you up on top the ridge line and keeps you there for most of the hike. While the initial climb does come
with some slight struggles, they are short lived, and even out within the first mile of the hike.
With a few exceptions, most of the hike is flat with a few drops and climbs in between.
Throughout the hike, you are able to see small towns on both sides of the ridge while travelling through
Cherokee National Forest. Within the first four miles of the hike from Damascus, you cross the VA/TN state
line which is marked by both a formal sign on the trail as well as an informal line of rocks across the
Within 10 miles of Damascus is the shelter for anyone looking to take a break, with a water
station for those that ran through theirs. While at the shelter (we got there around 1pm) we met some
thru hikers who had started in Georgia about a month prior to making it to Damascus. After
talking to them for a while, we were told that because of the ease of this section of the AT, there is a
popular challenge that took place where thru hikers would try and complete 30 miles in a single day
before stopping in Damascus.
Towards the end of the hike, my two friends and I made the executive decision to stop short of
the cars and set up camp for the night. After doing nearly 12 miles in 7ish hours, it was easy to see why
the 30-mile challenge was popular for this section of the Appalachian Trail. So, we set up camp, ate, and waited for the
sunset. One of my favorite things about hiking in the mountains is that you almost always get a great
view of the sunset and this was no exception. As the sun went down you could see every color paint the
Offering great views, easy climbs, and an overall sense of accomplishment in completing a
roughly 15-mile trek, Damascus to Low Gap is the perfect trail to introduce new people to hiking and get them to catch the