DAMASCUS, Va. — You do not necessarily have to go into the woods to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Yes, the woods are where you'll see the views — the flora and the fauna, the deer and the bear.
But you won't find bricks.
For that, let’s stroll the sidewalk of Damascus.
And, there, you’ll see all colorful bricks commemorating the names of hikers and loved ones as the mighty Appalachian Trail marches down the main street of the tiny town along U.S. 58.
Go now, and you can jump into the pack of backpack-wearing hikers during this week’s Trail Days.
That's happening through May 20.
And with the crowds, you can follow the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail along Laurel Avenue.
Then, of course, you can tell all your pals that you've been out walking the Appalachian Trail!
"I say it,” Town Clerk Tuesday Pope revealed with a smile.
“But it's a joke," she quickly added.
Still, Pope said, "We encourage it."
So go ahead: It’s so easy!
"As soon as the trail drops off the mountain to Damascus,” Pope said, “the trail comes right through town.”
Of course, you could also just take a break on the bricks.
That's what Mark Nelson was doing when I found the hiker from Cary, North Carolina, waiting for his wife in Damascus.
"Today, I just did 15 miles,” said Nelson, 60, a computer programmer. “And that's a pretty good day for me."
Nelson made it a point to stress how “beautiful” he found Damascus. “Looking down out to here,” he said, “this is a beautiful little town."
And this week?
Well, yes, expect it to be busy — with about 20,000 extra visitors.
Just ask Ashley Foster, the manager of Mojo's Trailside Cafe & Coffee.
Not too far off the Appalachian Trail, Mojo’s explodes with business during Trail Days, said Foster, a 2010 graduate of Patrick Henry High School in Glade Spring.
This popular restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks to happy hikers of all kinds — from the ones who walk more than 2,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail to the casual folks who just want to stroll the bricks of Damascus.
"And during Trail Days, they will be lined up out the door from the time we open until the time we close,” Foster said. “They're usually standing outside the door before 7, waiting for us to open.”