Hiking Backbone Rock: The Shortest Tunnel In The World!

I recently enjoyed a pleasant outdoor date night driving with my husband through what is known as Shady Valley here in Tennessee. Adjacent to Damascus, Virginia and located in Cherokee National Forest in Johnson County is a man made tunnel known as Backbone Rock.  Hiking Backbone Rock is a fun and easy hike for nearly all skill levels.

According to the USDA Forest service,

“A tunnel was drilled through the rock in 1901 to allow railroad access between Shady Valley and Damascus, VA. Motorists pass through what is known as “The Shortest Tunnel in the World” as they travel along TN 133. In the 1930s The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the recreation area for day use, constructing two picnic shelters and hiking trails that incorporated native stonework. The campground was added in the 1960s and rehabilitated in the mid 1990s.”

Climbing The Stairs

We only had a short time, so we parked to the left of the road just before passing under Backbone Rock.  We quickly located the staircase located behind the parking area and began our climb to the top.

The Staircase To The Top

Avid hikers may not consider this much of a hike because the staircase and bridges make it relatively accessible to most people. However, it can be slippery! Use caution especially if you have children with you.

What’s Up Here?

While there isn’t a sweeping vista at the top of the staircase, if you love to be outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature, you won’t be disappointed. 

Me Snapping Pics Of Him Snapping Pics

View From The Top

After reaching the top, there is a bridge to cross to Backbone Rock.  The road running underneath the tunnel is visible from this vantage point.

Bridge To Cross Over The Road

I recall a time when the fence wasn’t here, but I definitely concur with the decision to install it! Yikes!! 

The Road Runs Through The Tunnel Below

Back On The Ground

The view on the ground is equally lovely.  Beaverdam creek is stocked with trout so bring your pole, catch dinner, and grill some fish on one of the outdoor grills.

My husband enjoyed using his new Sony A6300. We’ve only had it a couple of months.  We purchased it when we were in Santa Barbara, California on our recent road trip. I think he’s doing a fine job with it, but perhaps I’m biased.

Wildflowers Growing From The Mountainside

Shady Valley, TN

Shady Valley, Tennessee is one of the loveliest areas in Northeast Tennessee.  The day use area includes picnic shelters and tables, outdoor grills, and bathroom facilities.  There is also a small campground nearby with 10 campsites.  

Whether you are here for a few hours or a few days, you will fall in love with the beautiful Shady Valley, Tennessee.

Here are few guides to help you out should you decide to stay for more than a few hours.

Click on the links below to learn more about my beautiful Appalachian home.

Check out this article for information on hiking in the nearby Shenendoah National Park.

16 thoughts on “Hiking Backbone Rock: The Shortest Tunnel In The World!”

  1. Hrmm, I may need to keep this in mind for a future visit home to Kentucky and make a trip down for this hike! Looks lovely! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  2. I’d love to have a hike as beautiful as Backbone Rock here, in California. Our landscape is so dry, nothing as lush and green as in Tennessee. Besides, despite those stairs, the hike doesn’t seem too difficult. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Haha,

      Having just come from California and falling in love with the diverse landscapes, it’s funny to hear you say that! The stairs really aren’t hard at all and this is a pretty easy hike. Thanks for stopping by. #theweeklypostcard

  3. That looks beautiful! I can see why it’s called Shady Valley. It reminds me a little of a hike I did in Shenandoah, with the feel of a thick forest. Looks like a lovely way to spend a few hours. And stairs are deceptive! They make you think it’s easy and accessible but after a couple of minutes you’re really tired out (or at least I am)! Thanks for sharing, Amanda 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • It is very similar to Shenandoah (another BEAUTIFUL PLACE) That’s true about the stairs! Thanks for stopping by. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  4. Looks like a beautiful hike and I agree your hubby is doing a great job with the new camera. I love how he captured the moving water, just beautiful. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • Awww…thanks re: Camera! He will be so thrilled you said so! Thanks, as always, for stopping by and giving me great feedback. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  5. This looks incredible! I am getting into hiking and this would just be the challenge I need to get a move on! Tennessee looks fab. I need to explore it more.
    Thanks for coming to Fly Away Friday! I hope to see you this week!

  6. Looks like such a fun hike and a beautiful one! Not sure if I would survive those stairs though – i hate when there’s too many stairs during a hike, haha! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday! Hope to see you again this week! xo

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