The Virginia Creeper Trail11/03/2011 12:00:00 by Administrator
The Virginia Creeper Trail
Warning, if you are traveling route 58 in Virginia, from Damascus to Whitetop, we recommend unhooking your tow vehicle . . . if you are camping in a 5th wheel . . . good luck! For those of you are visiting the area in a RV your best bet for accessing this trail is to find camping or lodging in the Abington/Damascus area.
Hind sight is 20/20 so unfortunately, we stayed the night at a private campground near the summit of Whitetop mountain, Virginia (elevation at the summit of Whitetop is 5, 525 ft). The campground was located in the middle of a Christmas Tree Farm and we were the only campers in the place. The RV sites are located on top of a hill full of Christmas Trees. The views and the smells were fantastic, but it was way over priced for what you got in return (no wifi, no cell, no running water, luke warm showers, and the bathrooms were located at the bottom of the campground). This is a nice campground for tent campers, not so much for RVs.
After scoping out the area and a quick ride in the car down to Damascus, we decided to ride the trail up hill from Damascus to Whitetop. The elevation differences between Damascus and Whitetop is about 1600 feet over 17 miles. The steepest grade is 5%. Since SeeMore had not been out much all summer, we decided to challenge ourselves a bit. What a great decision.
So in the morning, we packed up Gulliver (our Lazy Daze and with the Subaru leading), then headed down the mountain to Damascus. At the parking lot in Damascus Mary made breakfast (her lumberjack special without bacon). I got SeeMore assembled and attached Sammie's tail wagon.
The Virginia Creeper Rails Trail travels for 34 miles total, from end to end. Starting in Abington, Va and ending at the North Carolina border. Damascus Virginia is the exact half way point in the trail. If you wish a less stepper climb, take the trail towards Abington. Damascus is also famous for those hiking the Appalachian Trail, part of the Appalachian Trail actually follows the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail . . . SeeMore has now done some of the Appalachian Trail! Riding this trail is like taking a hike in the mountains on your bike. It is BEAUTIFUL, following the Whitetop Laurel River almost all of the time. If you seek views of wildlife, mountain laurel, birds, christmas tree farms, beautiful waterfalls, ride this treasure. The trail's wide graveled stone path crosses many bridges as it curves through the mountains. Along the trail are a number of rest room facilities, and there seems like there are plenty places to eat (during the busy months). You will pass hikers (some going up Mount Rogers, some enjoying the Appalachian Trail) and horse riders. There was very little bike traffic on the day we rode, due to off season. Although this trail is promoted as a mountail bike trail any bike with hybrid or non "street/road" specific tires will do well on the trail surfaces.
There are (eye count) 5 bike rental companies in Damascus which allow you to not only rent bikes, but will take you to the Whitetop parking lot (or Abington), so you can have a very easy 17 mile ride back to Damascus. SeeMore would have none of that, being the thoroughbred that he is. The climb out of Damascus had grades from 2 percent to 5 percent . The steepest grades located towards the Whitetop end of the trail. It took our "out of shape bodies" about 3 hours to climb the 17 miles, and about an hour to go down. Of course, Sammie in the trailer didn't want to help pedal up hill!
We had lunch at the Whitetop staging / parking lot. On our return journey back to Gulliver, we did not pedal for about the first 5 miles. We had to pick up our pace a bit near the Green Cove Station, as we were chased by what we previously had thought was a big "dead white sheep" which actually turned out to be a very large newfoundland dog. . . who gave SeeMore and a barking Sammie a chase!
So if you in the area, make sure you get on your pedals and enjoy this Virginia Gem.