Up on the Laurel

Trails

 

Below is a list of nearby hikes that range in difficulty and length.* Some hikes are loops and others are point hikes where you hike out to a point and return along the same trail. You can follow the italicized directions and enjoy the scenery. Distances are all approximate.

Loop hike on the Iron Mountain and Feathercamp trails (6 miles, moderate)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) for short distance and bear right onto Konnarock Road (Rt. 603) for approximately 3 miles. Continue straight onto Jeb Stuart Highway (Route 58) for for approximately 6 miles. Park at the upper Straight Branch parking lot above the VA Creeper Trail, about 6 miles west of Konnarock on Rte. 58. Cross 58 and hike north on the Beech Grove Trail (woods road), ascending 1 mile. At the sign at the top, turn right to the Iron Mtn. Trail (which begins as a woods road for about ¼ mile, then turns right on yellow blazes into the woods). After about 2 miles, continue through a signed trail intersection and hike another mile to a hiker trail on the right to Sandy Flats. (Optional side trip: continue on the I.M.T. ¼ mile farther to Sandy Flats Shelter and back.) Turn right at Sandy Flats onto the blue-blazed Feathercamp Trail. Descend 2 miles to Rte. 58. (The last ½ mile has several crossings of Feathercamp Creek on stepstones.) At 58, turn right and walk ¼ mile to your car. 

Loop hike on Appalachian and Virginia Creeper Trails from Straight Branch (4 miles, easy to moderate)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) for short distance and bear right onto Konnarock Road (Rt. 603) for approximately 3 miles. Continue straight onto Jeb Stuart Highway (Route 58) for approximately 6 miles. Park at the pull-off at the Appalachian Trail sign at the Straight Branch Bridge Rte. 58. Follow the Appalachian Trail north across the bridge and through a rhododendron forest, ascending slightly with views to the right over Whitetop Laurel Creek and the VA Creeper Trail. After 2 miles, go straight on a blue-blazed side trail at asign where the AT turns left. Reach the VA Creeper Trail on the blue blazed trail in 1/3 mile. Turn right and follow the Creeper along the creek and over several trestles 2 miles to the Straight Branch Creeper Trail parking lot. Ascend the parking lot road, turn right, and walk up Rte. 58 ¼ mile to reach the car at the Straight Branch Bridge.

Loop hike on Appalachian Trail, Virginia Creeper Trail, and Grassy Ridge Road (3 miles, easy to moderate)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) for short distance and bear right onto Konnarock Road (Rt. 603) for approximately 3 miles. Continue straight onto Jeb Stuart Highway (Route 58) for 1 mile and then turn left on Grassy Ridge Road (Route 859 is a gravel road). Travel on Grassy Ridge Road for approximately 1 mile. Pull-off and park on right side of road, just past fenced field planted with soon-to-be Christmas Trees. Continue up Grassy Ridge Road for another 50 yards and turn right onto Appalachian Trail for approximately 1 mile and follow white blazes. At Virginia Creeper Trail juncture, turn left and continue for 1 mile to juncture with Grass Ridge Road. Turn left on Grassy Ridge Road and walk back to your parked vehicle, which is approximately 1 mile.   

Loop Hike from Beartree Gap Lake and Creek Junction (11.2 miles, moderate to difficult)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) for short distance and bear right onto Konnarock Road (Rt. 603) for approximately 3 miles. Continue straight onto Jeb Stuart Highway (Route 58) for approximately 4 miles. At the Beartree Gap Recreational Area sign, turn right. From Beartree Lake anglers’ parking lot, take violet-blazed Beartree Gap Trail across a dam and U.S. 58 to A.T. (0.5 mile); A.T. southbound past the two access trails to Saunders Shelter and down the switchbacks (A side hike to the shelter adds .5 mile.) to its junction with short, blue-blazed connector to the Virginia Creeper Trail (4.1 miles); left and follow theCreeper through Taylors Valleyhamlet and up Whitetop Laurel Creek gorge to junction with A.T. at Creek Junction (4.2 miles); A.T. southbound to Beartree Gap Trail1.2 miles); that trail back to the parking lot (0.5 mile). A roundtrip north of the A.T./Creeper from Creek Junction to Hassinger bridge (a high trestle) and the parking lot on Va. 728 adds 0.8 mile. 

Loop hike on Iron Mountain Trail and Appalachian Trail (4 miles, moderate)

Beginning in Damascus, walk east on E. 4th St. to reach the Iron Mountain Trail. Follow yellow blazes for about 2 miles. Trail crosses a few small streams on stepstones, winds uphill, then turns left. At sign, turn right on short blue-blazed connecting trail, then right again onto the Appalachian Trail (white blazes). For the next 2 miles, the AT crosses a ridge overlooking Damascus, descends, turns left, and reaches a set of steps, crossingRte. 58 to join the VA Creeper Trail and return to Damascus.

Loop Hike around Beartree Gap Lake and Recreation Area (0.8 miles, easy)

The campground offers two fishing piers, and smallmouth bass, sunfish, rainbow and brown trout are all possible catches. Canoe rentals are also available, and a sandy lakeside beach is perfect for swimming. The Beartree Lake Trail, which circles the lake, is excellent for easy hiking. Half of the trail is paved for an easier walk. The 14-acre lake hosts an annual fishing derby for kids in May. https://www.recreation.gov/camping/beartree/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70788

Point Hike from Elk Garden Trailhead to Whitetop Mountain (6.2 miles roundtrip, moderate to difficult)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) and in 100 yards turn left and continue on Whitetop Road for approximately 7 miles to Elk Garden parking lot on right. From parking lot, begin hike.  https://www.google.com.eg/maps/dir/Elk+Garden+Trailhead/Whitetop+Mountain/@36.6498821,-81.6184597,13z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0x99e496726f70581d!2m2!1d-81.5830672!2d36.646183!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0xe6c6adcbb7eab15d!2m2!1d-81.6097481!2d36.6377651!3e2?hl=en

Point Hike from Elk Garden parking lot to Elk Garden Grassy Balds (1.4 miles roundtrip, easy to moderate)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) and in 100 yards turn left and continue on Whitetop Road for approximately 7 miles to Elk Garden parking lot on right. From parking lot, cross Whitetop Road, walk through fence gate and proceed up the grassy bald along Appalachian Trail.

Point or Loop Hike Depending on your Choice from Whitetop Mountain to Buzzard Rock (3 to 5 miles, moderate)

At end of driveway, turn right on Laurel Valley Road for approximately 2 miles. At stop sign, turn left on Whitetop Road (Rt. 600) and in 100 yards turn left and continue on Whitetop Road for approximately 8 miles to Mud Creek Lane (a gravel road). Turn right onto Mud Creek Lane and proceed for approximately 3 miles. Park your vehicle in the parking lot on the right. Walk from the lot and continue up Mud Creek Lane for approximately 50 yards. Turn left onto the Appalachian Trail marked with white blazes. Continue along the trail for approximately 1.5 miles to Buzzard Rock. Once at Buzzard Rock, you can either return along the Appalachian Trail or walk up the grassy bald on a well trod but unmarked trail for approximately 1 mile that leads you to Mud Creek Lane. At the juncture of the well trod but unmarked trail and Mud Creek Lane, turn left and walk down the gravel road to your car, which is approximately 1.5 miles down the road.  http://hikingbill.com/?p=770

 

 

*Recommended map for these and other hikes in this area: National Geographic map #786 of the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. This map is available for sale at the following outfitters in Damascus, VA:  Mt. Rogers Outfitters, Adventure Damascus, and Sundog Outfitters; also at the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area Headquarters on Rte. 16 near Sugar Grove, VA, and at Grayson Highlands State Park, and from National Geographic online.