(9/18/19) Trail Closure & Temporary Re-Route near Dickey Gap (Mount Rogers National Recreation Area)
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) footbridge over Comers Creek is unsafe due to a structural fault and will be removed. The previous route of the A.T. is currently CLOSED for two miles, until a safe crossing of Comers Creek is established. The closed section is between Comers Creek Road/VA-650/Dickey Gap and the junction with the Dickey Gap Trail.
A temporary re-reroute of the Appalachian Trail (now following VA-650/Comers Creek Road, the Hurricane Campground Road, and Dickey Gap Trail) has been marked with white blazes and is the official route of the A.T. until further notice. Directions are below.
Starting at Dickey Gap A.T. trailhead, mile 520.1
(near the junction of VA 16 and VA 650/Comers Creek Road):
Turn RIGHT on gravel Comers Creek Road (VA 650), away from paved VA 16. Follow the gravel road for 1.5 miles to the paved road opposite Hurricane Campground. Turn LEFT on paved road opposite Hurricane Campground, and follow it for 0.3 miles. Look for the wooden signpost for the Dickey Gap Trail on your left. Turn LEFT onto Dickey Gap Trail and follow it 0.4 miles to where it ends at the A.T. junction. Turn RIGHT to continue southbound on the Appalachian Trail.
Starting at A.T. junction with Dickey Gap Trail, mile 518.1 (please note wooden signpost at the junction reads "Hurricane Campground 0.4 miles" but does not say "Dickey Gap Trail"; also, note some sources refer to this trail informally as the “Hurricane Campground Trail.”):
Turn LEFT on the Dickey Gap Trail. Follow Dickey Gap Trail 0.4 miles until it ends at the paved road opposite Hurricane Campground. Turn RIGHT on the paved road and follow it for 0.3 miles until it ends at Comers Creek Road/VA 650, which is a gravel road. Turn RIGHT on the gravel road and follow it for 1.5 miles until you reach the A.T. near the junction of VA 650 and paved VA 16. To continue northbound, rejoin the A.T. on the same side of the road as the parking lot and information kiosk.
Bear Warning: Mount Rogers & Grayson Highlands
(Updated 11/8/2019) In 2018 and 2019, multiple bear/human encounters were reported along the Appalachian Trail in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park. Bears have successfully retrieved food bags hung in trees as far south as Thomas Knob Shelter (northbound mile 499.0), and as far north as Hurricane Shelter (northbound mile 515.0). Unoccupied tents and packs have also been damaged by bears looking for food.
If you plan to camp overnight in the Mount Rogers area, ATC recommends you camp only where you can store your food in a metal food storage locker or "bear box." Even if you carry a personal bear-resistant food storage device, it's best to store it inside a bear box in this area.
Bear boxes have been installed at 9 sites between Damascus and Marion. Those sites are: Saunders Shelter, Lost Mountain Shelter, Thomas Knob Shelter, Rhododendron Gap between the A.T. and the Crest Trail, Wise Shelter, Scales, Old Orchard Shelter, Hurricane Mountain Shelter, and Trimpi Shelter.
In particular, camping is not recommended near the Fox Creek/VA-603 trailhead due to multiple reports of stolen food, bear encounters, and property damage at campsites along the A.T. and at nearby Grindstone Campground.
Visitors are advised to use all precautions for traveling in black bear country during their visit. Please report bear incidents anywhere on the A.T. at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CCYZGC2
Mt. Rogers – Vehicle break-ins and thefts
The Trail between Damascus and VA Rt. 16 at Mt. Rogers NRA Headquarters has a long history of vehicle break-ins and thefts.