Location: Damascus, Virginia
Webpage: National Recreation Area
General Description: The Virginia Creeper Trail is the premier mountain biking trails in Virginia extending 34 miles from Abingdon, along Interstate 81) down through Damascus and up to Whitetop Station near the North Carolina state line. Most people bike either Abingdon to Damascus or Whitetop Station to Damascus, as these two legs (each about 17 miles) are downhill. The trip from Abingdon is primarily through rural areas with unbroken views of the valley, whereas the trip from Whitetop Station is primarily through the forest of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area along the Whitetop Laurel River. The entire trail is along the old Virginia Creeper Railroad bed which has all the advantages of being relatively straight, constant grade, and many spectacular bridges. Whichever leg you choose there are multiple bike shops that rent bikes, sell equipment, and provide transportation to either starting point.
1) We would recommend starting the trip in Damascus at one of the local restaurants before making the journey up to either starting point. The small town of Damascus is devoted to providing services for the many bikers and tourists and has a number of nice places to eat.
2) You can either bring your own bike or rent a bike from one of the bike shops in Damascus. Although we rented bikes, most of the bikers on the shuttle had brought their own.
3) We decided to take the leg down from Whitetop Station, as this is more downhill then the other leg from Abingdon and is primarily along the river winding down through the forest and will take between 2.5 and 4 hours depending on the number of stops you take. This leg is 17 miles long and except for the last 1.5 miles as you approach and within Damascus, is downhill requiring little or no effort.
4) For anyone who enjoys riding a bike along mountain streams with little to no effort, this is an experience you will greatly enjoy. We took just over 3 hours for the trip and for the most part it was a casual ride down a gravel path with great views of the forest and river.
5) As this was originally a railroad bed, the trail has a relatively constant grade with many cuts and fills to the roadbed, especially near the top where it was the most steep. You cross numerous railroad bridges, most of which are not the original bridges, but all provide great views of the river and draws you cross over.
6) You can stop at any location that strikes your fancy, including a number of interpretive signs giving information about the history, culture, and natural environment.
7) A GREAT EXPERIENCE!!!