Insider information on the Virginia Creeper Trail!
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a great way to combine some physical activity with the great outdoors. It is a 34 mile long trail from Whitetop to Abington, Virginia. This past weekend, some friends and I decided to do the most trafficked 17 mile path from Whitetop to Damascus, Virginia on bikes. While our bums are sore, we enjoyed the Creeper Trail. Here’s a summary of our trip!
Why do they call it the Creeper Trail?!
My first thought when I heard about the Creeper Trail was “is it creepy?!” After biking the trail, I can definitely tell you that it is NOT creepy. But, you do creep down it and you could POSSIBLY see some creeps. I’m talking about the Virginia Creeper plant that is a five-leaved ivy that is commonly found in the area. That, and the fact that the heavy loaded trains that previously used the path had to move slowly on mountain grades, gave it the nickname of the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Where is the Creeper Trail?
What’s this Creeper Trail all about?!
We had planned this trip for months because we wanted to enjoy the fall foliage and cooler weather when we made the 17 mile bike ride. I made a reservation a week prior at the only family owned and operated bike rental and shuttle place, the Shuttle Shack.
There are plenty of other shuttle businesses that you can rent from. Adventure Damascus has a colorful building with souvenirs and Appalachian Trail supplies.
We drove a couple hours north of Knoxville, Tennessee to the town of Damascus. We planned our ride for 11:00 EST and arrived 30 minutes prior as requested by the employees of the Shuttle Shack. They were very kind as they assisted us in finding the perfect bike and told us to remember the bike number. They loaded it on a trailer and we hopped on a van for the 30 minute drive to Whitetop.
The road to Whitetop was very curvy.
Concerned about motion sickness, I felt bad for those in the back of the van. I discussed the trail conditions and town happenings with our shuttle driver on the way up. Fall is the busiest time of year to visit the Creeper Trail as many come to enjoy the changing leaves. He told me about how a black bear was seen on the trail a few days before.
Ready to Creep!!!!!
When we finally reached Whitetop, we all got out to find our bikes. I had a little difficulty finding my bike because it was on another van’s trailer. When we all found our bikes, we started off with a group of what seemed like 50 people.
We took our time as we started down the trail. It was flat at the beginning but quickly started on a downhill slope. The first stop was to the left at an overlook of a Christmas tree farm. We were told that the trees grow about a foot a year. In the early 1900s, it is reported that this area of Washington County, Virginia produced more lumbar than any other county in the US.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the beauty that surrounds you; even behind you!
As we continued on down the trail, we came to a little town called Green Cove. This was the first place that had a bathroom, other than the one in Whitetop. There’s a beautiful red barn sitting on the hillside here that would make a beautiful picture. Unfortunately, I did not notice it until we were almost out of the town.
This was the first stop for bathrooms.
The houses along the way are so cute!
I couldn’t help but take a picture of this cute pumpkin man along the trail.
We crossed several (too many to count) bridges as we crossed river beds and made our way down the trail.
Can you meet the love of your life here?!
There were a few places along the trail in which we crossed the Appalachian Trail. My friend insisted that she had heard that you can meet the love of your life on the Appalachian Trail. Not sure if this was true, but we had to get an obligatory picture at the trail sign!
Where to stop for food along the trail?!
Almost 10 miles had passed when we finally ended up in the town of Taylor’s Valley. I felt like the world famous chocolate cake at the Creeper Trail Café was what I was riding for! We waited in line for about 30 minutes to place our order and then about that long to get our food. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries along with some chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. We had also seen signs along the way for other small places to eat, but this was the only obvious place to eat! It was pretty delicious, too!
Other than one of us (not naming any names! ) running into the side of the bridge while looking over, the rest of the trail was uneventful. It seemed as though the last 3 miles or so were more flat and required pedaling. The majority of the trip I felt like I used my hands on the brakes more than my legs to pedal. The scenery was so picturesque.
Creeper Trail Tips:
- Make a reservation for a bike at least one week prior to riding on the Creeper Trail.
- The trail from Whitetop to Damascus is mostly downhill.
- There is more pedaling involved on the Damascus to Abington trail.
- Get a cushioned seat cover. Your bum will thank you! If the seat is too hard, as for a softer one. We were able to switch to a more comfortable bike.
- Helmets are available at the shuttle shop but were not required.
- Cell phones don’t have signal.
- There was a bathroom at our shuttle shop and several places along the trail that had bathrooms.
- Bring hand sanitizer as there is none in some of the bathrooms.
- Make sure your bicycle has an emergency tube kit.
- Bring at least one bottle of water. I forgot to get mine when leaving the shuttle shop, but did just fine waiting until we got to Taylor’s Valley for lunch.
- Ride single file. Pass on the left and announce that you are doing so.
- Don’t stop on the trail in front of another biker.
- Make sure to leave a decent distance behind the person in front of you.
- Bring money or Visa/Mastercard to stop at the Creeper Trail Café in Taylors Valley for lunch.
- Towards the end of the trail, I noticed my booty getting sore from the bicycle seat. I found that shifting from one side for a while helped.