This segment of the Iron Mountain Trail (IMT) is from Hurricane Mountain to the trail town of Damascus VA, and has one-way mileage over 22 miles. The IMT contains a goldmine of amazing terrain including long rocky ridgelines, scenic vistas, and oak forests. Ridgeline running is the definite highlight of the IMT, as many parts are aligned right on the the backbone of the mountains. Running the whole IMT one-way or putting together a loop on any section of it would be a solid addition to any runners bucket list.
The northeast terminus of this section is VA16 at Iron Mountain Gap. There are several options for long distance runs in this area of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Other forest roads and the Virginia Highlands Horse trail (67 miles) can be used to plan runs on other sections of the IMT on this end.
Damascus is on the southwest end of this IMT segment, and serves as a gateway to the entire Mount Rogers NRA, which is over 115,000 Acres. It markets itself as Trail Town USA, because of the four designated trails which intersect with it, including IMT, the Hwy 76 Bicycle Route, Appalachian Trail, and Virginia Creeper Trail.
This section of the IMT was actually old Appalachian Trail until 1972, when the AT was relocated to the southeast. Now, the IMT in this section is a multi-use trail, with runners sharing travel with bike traffic, equestrians, and even motorcycles in some sections.
Worth noting: the ability to plan smaller loops on this section increases the closer you get to Damascus. There are many possibilities including running trails or roads through Skulls Gap, Shaw Gap, Beartree Recreation Area, Straight Branch, and Sandy Flats among others.
Back in Damascus, make sure you find a Trails Illustrated Mount Rogers NRA Map (#786) of the entire area. Pack it on your run.