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Hiking Backbone Rock: The Shortest Tunnel In The World!

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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.

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Hiking Backbone Rock
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.

Backbone Rock: The Shortest Tunnel In The World

backbone rock

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 at Backbone Rock

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.

backbone rock stairs

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.

hiking backbone rock

Virginia Nature at Backbone Rock

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. 

nature at backbone rock
backbone rock waterfalls

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 at backbone rock

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

backbone rock view from the top
backbone rock overlook

Beaverdam Creek-Backbone Rock

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 2017 road trip.  

beaver dam creek

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.

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