This is a diverse loop using railtrail, a little pavement, rough doubletrack and fun old school singeltrack.
Although there are old Appalachian Trail Shelters on Iron Mountain Trail
, the best tent camping options are at Rhododendron Gap and on the Crest Trail
. Although only half of this route is singletrack, it is a mountain bike route. Even the doubletrack requires a mountain bike, a gravel bike would result in a lot of walking.
At the overnight parking area, there is a sign with instructions to register for free online. Do not leave your vehicle anywhere else in Damascus as it will be towed. There several cafes along the Virginia Creeper Trail and several stores along route although the campground store is seasonal and cannot be relied on for resupply. When entering Grayson Highlands, just inform the gate attendant you are passing through and you'll not be charged the entry fee for the park.
Starting at the overnight parking area in front of the library in Damascus, head up the Virginia Creeper Trail until reaching White Top station. From there, follow pavement on Old Park Rd up to Rt 58. There is a gas station to grab some food or drinks at the junction.
Turn right on 58 and follow it up to the entrance of Grayson Highlands State Park. Take a left and follow signs to the campground. At the campground, there is a little seasonal store where drinks and snacks can be purchased. Across from the camp store, take a left onto Seed Orchard Rd and follow it until it joins with Mount Rogers
trail is a popular horse trail so expect rough churned up trail with some hike-a-bike depending on weather and how much horse traffic there has been. There are fantastic scenic campsites just before reaching Rhododendron Gap and the Appalachian Trail. If this is crowded with campers, there are some great options farther down the Crest Trail
Once reaching the Scales, turn left and descend the Scales Rd down to Fairwood Rd. Take a left on Fairwood Rd and follow the pavement for about a mile. At the horse camp, pick up Fairwood Valley Trail
and climb it until you reach Flat Top Trail
. Climb it until you reach Flat Top Rd/Fs 828. Take a right and follow it until you reach Iron Mountain Trail
Take a left on Iron and follow it along the ridge until you reach Beech Grove
. Descend Beech back to the Virginia Creeper then follow the Creeper back to Damascus.