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