Saturday, May 14, 2011

(Appalachian) Trails Days Damascus, Virginia

Today was my very first exposure to an exciting, chaotic hiking event known to the world as (supposedly) the largest hiking festival. Tails Days in Damascus Virginia is timed to fall each year right about when the majority of northward bound Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers migrate through Damascus. The majority of events take place on Saturday and include free showers (for stinky thru hikers), some free food (thanks to Jon from Ahnu Footwear), and a lot of backpacking vendors.

This is the event to attend if you want to sea all the best and newest in outdoor gear. Also most vendors are offering up to 50% off their gear. As you know I am frugal by nature with my purchasing of gear, but there were a lot of tempting offers. There were MSR Whisperlites for $40, Everyone has tents, sleeping bags, everything hiking on display and for use. I got to learn about a few new low-rep names in outdoor gear and I have to admit there were a lot of innovative and competitive designs by private companies. Big names like The North Face, Marmot, etc take a back seat here and instead you will see names like Hennessy Hammocks, Ahnu Footwear, Speer Hammock, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Jacks R Better , and a lot of other great small names along with some big corporate names.
Vendor Booths

Apparently, and to my great surprise, the list of events for the day includes a town-wide water fight in which every resident and some couple of thousand visitors and hikers chuck water balloons and fire squirt guns incessantly through the streets with the Trail Days Parade. Luckily I was in the outfitter store when it all started because I had my Nikon with me (which I really didn't want to get wet) so I filmed some of the action. It will be posted as soon as I can upload the video.

Among the booty scored for the day was an Outdoor Research Swift hat that, for the day I've worn it, has been classy and comfortable. Also, a Hennessy Hammock Hyperlite Zip which will have its own article soon. Price of the backpacking hammock? $230. Would I pay $230 for it? That remains to be seen. However, true to the nature of Trail Days, Hennessy was offering 50% off all their products. That meant the cost came down to $115 and they paid tax. That's not all though, I got a stylin' Hennessy Hammocks T-shirt (why not?) and a SnakeSkin all for the $115. I couldn't pass up that deal!
Parade / Water Fight

If you want to hike the Appalachian Trail but still have some questions, or if you want to see and test some of the coolest backpacking gear then Trail Days in Damascus Virginia is the place to be. It's a great day of relaxing exploration right on the AT. By the way, Trail Days was officially the first time I've ever set foot on the Appalachian Trail. It won't be the last. Get there early to avoid parking traffic jams and park in the Food World parking lot about 1/4 mile from the event. From there you can easily walk in or bike in along the Virginia Creeper Trail and avoid the crowds.


  1. Would love to visit the Appalachian mountains. Its on my 'bucket list'. Coming from Australia, I find the people in Virginia to be very friendly. I can't wait to go back!

  2. Trail days are a must for any avid hiker. Getting to meet fellow hikers that share the same passion is a great opportunity!


Tell us what you think: