Iron Mtn to Damascus (Nov 24, 2017)

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iron_mtn_coverConditions: Day Hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Damascus, VA
Area: Damascus, TN
Reference: n/a
Stats: 7.05mi, 1528' gain, 2419' loss (one way)


I was looking forward to a holiday visit with the entire family. Thanksgiving for me is the great year end holiday...it hasn't been corrupted by commercialism (yet). It's all about family. My parents have been in TN full time now for about 10 years. They have a great location...a house that can easy fill up with family when we come to visit. The best part, for a hiker, is the easy access to hiking trails. Last time I visited my parents (March 2016) I walked out the front door, up the street, and hit a trail. This time I planned a variation on a previous trip. I checked the weather a few days before boarding my flight to head east and the weather forecast for the entire week of Thanksgiving couldn't have been better. Daytime times around 60F with sunny blue skies. I sent an email to my siblings and told them I wanted to do a hike and to tell the kids to bring their hiking shoes!

Thanksgiving day was the best. This was the first time in a while that the entire family was together. I'm usually the one who can't make it but this year it was perfect timing. I usually head east for Christmas but this year I decided to head back for the other holiday. My timing was accidentally perfect since the house is undergoing a major remodeling project. The week I planned to be away was a major week of demo (the kitchen got gutted). Later on in the year, hopefully sometime before Christmas, the house should be in process of being put back together. When I get my long year end break for work (around 10 days), hopefully I'll be moving things back into the house...

My plan for the Turkey Burner Hike this year was to head up to the Iron Mtn ridge and head north along the ridge all the way into Damascus. It was hard to find much info on this hike which I find surprising since this trail used to be part of the Appalachian Trail before it was re-routed. I found the trail on some quads and traced a route and it looked like the hike would be about 5.6 miles. It turns out I was wrong on the mileage but oh well... The hardest part of the hike (if one could call it hard) was the hike up the ridge from Deer Run Rd which looks like it is about 580' gain and about 3/4 mile (about 1.26mi and 644' gain from my parents front porch).

Most of the kids joined me on the hike, Jillian 4, Meredith 6, JD 13, Emma 13, Wes 9?), Abby (18?)...and my BIL Craig joined as well. Others started out but turned around before reaching the ridge. Jillian, the youngest in the group, hiked all the way up to the ridge all by herself and she was so excited to reach it. She and her mom then turned about and headed back to the house. The rest of us continued north. From the trail jun3.74miction at the ridge we hiked another 1/2 mile to a point marked "Damascus 10 3808" on the USGS map. It is an easy walk up to a named highpoint on the ridge. From this point the trail headed steeply downhill...probably the steepest and longest descent of the day. Most of the ridge is just easy bits of slightly uphill or downhill.

We continued north to a trail junction (3.74mi from the house, 3378'). Going right, marked "Ahistadi" would take one down to a trailhead off Hwy 91 and Ahistadi Lane. We went left at the junction, marked "Damascus" because we of course wanted to hike into Damascus. From this junction the trail starts a slow descent down into town. At about 5 miles we crossed over the TN/VA border into Virginia. We reached the north trailhead at about 6.2 mi (2049') and called home to arrange our ride. We decided to hike the last bit of road into town and have Dad pick us up at the bike shop (7.05mi, 1965').

It ended up being a really great hike and a great day to spend with the kids out in the woods!
 
Iron Mtn to Damascus Slideshow

iron_mtn_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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