As mountain bikers, we all yearn for the excitement of the single track but sometimes it’s a good idea to introduce new riders and those less aggressive to biking on tamer trails. For the past few weeks, my wife has shown an interest in riding but is scared to death of single track so I was thrilled when we found the Virginia Creeper Trail.
The trail is an old rail trail that runs from Abingdon VA to the Virginia North Carolina state line. Since it was a rail trail it features gradual climbs and descents, and lots of mountain scenic beauty.
For our trip, we rented a cabin at the old Alvarado Train Stop which put us right on the trail and the first morning we hopped on our bikes and rode the flat 7.5 miles into Damascus for breakfast and to get a shuttle to the Whitetop Station which is the last train stop on top of the mountain. Here are a few of the photos from this segment:
Plus the Strava ride for the map and elevation:
I was surprised at how much of a tourist attraction this trail was. I saw plenty of both new and experienced riders and thankfully it’s wide enough to support easy passing.
When you leave Whitetop it’s a 2-mile descent with a pretty nice grade. You don’t have to pedal at all until you reach the next stop Green Cove Station, but you will use your brakes a lot.
If you are into history then be sure and stop at Green Cove Station as it’s all original and has a gift shop and very knowledgeable staff that can share many details on the station from when it was created.
From Green Cove down to Damascus the trail still continues downhill but you do have to peddle more, and this came as a surprise to us as everyone we talked to that had done it before really stressed how downhill and easy it was. Granted peddling downhill isn’t hard, but it’s not a 17-mile coast.
As the trail meanders down the mountain you get plenty of opportunities to see the river and cross over many bridges. The scenery is pretty and worth it doing it for that.
What also surprised us was the shuttle service told us that most everyone does Whitetop Station and ends their ride in Damascus, so most people that say they’ve done the Creeper Trail didn’t even ride the whole thing. From Damascus it has 7.7 miles to Alvarado, then 8 miles from Alvarado to Abingdon.
The 17 miles from Whitetop to Damascus takes a few hours and it has a lot of seat time for new riders. Before this trip, my wife had only ridden paved greenways and was surprised at how bumpy gravel is, especially in places where rocks are jutting out. Needless to say the next morning she was sore all over and most of those were because of the seat time.
Finally, if you are looking for food and plan to ride to Alvarado the little store has some great sandwiches and you don’t even have to leave the trail.
If you are looking for an awesome family biking adventure I’d highly recommend the Creeper Trail. It was a lot of fun but if you ride a lot don’t go in expecting a workout. Here is the final Strava segment from Whitetop down to Alvarado: