The Virginia Creeper Trail is a picturesque rails-to-trails path that winds its way for thirty-four miles through the Mount Rogers recreational area. The trail starts in Whitetop and ends in Abingdon, with Damascus sitting right in the middle.
We biked the Creeper section from Whitetop to Damascus on a rainy day many years ago. We planned to do the whole thing that day, but the rain became a heavy downpour and it was too muddy to enjoy biking. We tried to come back a couple times to bike the second half, but were foiled by more rain and tornado damage. Last summer, we finally made it back to officially finish the remaining 16 miles between Abingdon and Damascus.
We have our own bikes, but they were badly in need of tune ups, so we left them home and rented from Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle in Damascus, Va. Adam rented a mountain bike and I decided on a cool, purple cruiser. The trail’s terrain is generally smooth and covered with small gravel, so I decided to go with plush comfort rather than more rugged equipment. The rental shop was affordable and their bikes were impeccably maintained.
We booked seats on their first shuttle van of the day, and ended up being the only riders. Our driver was fun to talk to and was a regular hiker and biker. The shuttle took us from the shop back to mile zero in Abingdon, Va. From there, it was a mostly flat 16 mile ride back to their shop.
The section from Whitetop to Damascus is far more popular than the section we did this time – it’s a little more scenic and it’s all downhill, so it requires very little exertion. Our ride was still very easy, but we did have to pedal! The nice thing about biking the less popular half on a weekday was that we practically had the whole trail to ourselves. We saw just a handful of other runners and cyclists. The Creeper can get very crowded and congested, so this was a treat!
The main things to see along the Creeper Trail are beautiful waterways and railroad trestle bridges. The section we rode passed mostly through farmland, whereas the other half is more wooded. It was still really pretty, and the breeze from riding the bike made the heat bearable.
We stopped for a short snack and drink break at Alvarado Station about 8.5 miles into our ride. The station was once a railroad stop halfway between Abingdon and Damascus. It is the only stop for snacks and restrooms on this half of the trail. Across from the restroom building, there was a nice trailside park with a pavilion and porch swings. We sat by the river and enjoyed the view. We even saw a heron!
After our break we pedaled the remaining seven-ish miles into Damascus. The last mile or so follows the main road into town, so there are more road crossings and car noise. The nicest thing about trails like this is that the mostly keep car and bike traffic separated, so you always feel safe riding.
We got back into town, returned our rentals, got some lunch at Wicked Chicken Winghouse – another decent lunch stop in Damascus. Afterwards, we drove back to our AirBnB and picked up the dogs and took them for a two mile walk along the Creeper. After we got them nice and tired, we headed to Abingdon Vineyards to try some wine. The winery is dog friendly and has lots of outdoor tables along the stream. The day finished up with desserts from Anthony’s Desserts in Abingdon. If you’re in the area, this place has the most amazing sweets – don’t miss it!