The Iron Mountain Trail
The southern portion of the Iron Mountain Trail (IMT) follows the ridge of the Iron Mountains for 18 miles from Cross Mountain Road in Shady Valley, Tennessee to its intersection with Old Orchard Road in Damascus, Virginia. Because the trail follows the ridgeline, it has many short ups and downs which can be demanding on the hiker. The IMT is lightly used and offers the hiker and backpacker solitude and beautiful scenery as it passes through mature woods with numerous panoramic views of the Doe and Shady Valleys below. The trail can be combined with various sections of the Appalachian Trail to make a number of enjoyable backpacking trips.
Contrary to several published descriptions, there is not a lack of water on the trail if the hiker or backpacker is willing to walk off the trail for a few hundred feet to look for it. Below is an interactive USGS map of the Iron Mountain Trail showing the location of several, relatively level areas suitable for camping (labeled on the map as campsites 1-9) and nearby water sources spaced at reasonable distances along the entire length of the trail. The experienced hiker will certainly realize that some of these springs may disappear during dry spells. A PDF file with printable maps and a list of the GPS coordinates of these camping areas and springs may be download by clicking on the appropriate file below. In addition, there are PDF files showing the elevation profile of the trail and the distances to the camping areas from the southern and northern trailheads. The GPS coordinates of these camping areas and springs also may be downloaded in GPX and KML formats that can be uploaded into a GPS device. If you have difficulty viewing the embedded map below in your browser, you can view this map in a separate window by clicking on USGS Iron Mtn Trail Map.