Virginia Creeper Trail, VATrip Overview
A trip down the Virginia Creeper Trail is a stimulating adventure with nature. You will soon be planning a return trip to experience the next season. Most people plan a one way trip on the Creeper because of the 1700′ elevation drop from Whitetop to Damascus!
A reservation with one of the local shuttle services is a must. When planning your trip visit our Bike Rental and Shuttle Services page to help you chose an outfitter. It is a good idea to dress in layers as it can be very cool at the top of the mountain and warm and sunny in the valley. Click on the adventures below to help you decide how much of the Creeper Trail you wish to explore.Whitetop to Damascus
The most popular trip on the Creeper is the 17-mile downhill ride from Whitetop Station to downtown Damascus. Everyone from the grand kids to grandma can make this trip if they are comfortable riding a bike. Most kids are so proud of themselves for having pedaled 17-miles they can’t wait to go again.
To begin this trip you must first make reservations with one of the shuttle services in Damascus. They ferry riders to Whitetop Station at 3628′ in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Make reservations early during peak times of the year as they often fill up on weekends. Visit our Bike Rental and Shuttle Services page to get all the contact information you need.
The horses greet you as you pass through their pasture in Taylor’s Valley.
After you have unloaded in the parking area at Whitetop Station the 3-mile ride to Green Cove Station is the steepest of the whole trail. You travel through thick forest very quickly so take it easy and enjoy the rhododendron when it blooms in the spring. There are many bridges and trestles as the trail parallels and crosses Laurel Creek most of the way down the mountain. The views along the creek are spectacular. The first gate will surprise you as you enter the horse pastures in Taylor’s Valley. Make sure the gates close as you enter and leave the pasture.
This trip generally takes less than one-half day to complete giving you plenty of time to enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants in Damascus. After lunch take a look at the bike shops and antique stores along Laurel Street downtown.
Whitetop to Abingdon
Eat a good breakfast early on the morning you plan to take this 33-mile trip on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The trip will take most of the day. You will begin your trip at the Abingdon Trailhead with a shuttle ride to Whitetop Station. Only a couple shuttle services offer rides from Abingdon to Whitetop, so make sure you visit our Bike Rental and Shuttle Services page to help you reserve a ride from Abingdon to Whitetop.
Make sure you dress in layers, the temperature can vary greatly as the elevation drops nearly 1600 feet. After you have completed the first half of your ride most people like to sample some local flavors at one of the many restaurants in downtown Damascus. Try to store up plenty of energy because the last 7 miles of this final 15 mile leg is all uphill. The slope is only a 1.3% grade but it is a constant climb.
The small gate on the right is for trail users and closes automatically.
As you leave Damascus you travel along the banks of Laurel Creek often crossing driveways and well kept front yards. You begin entering dense forest as the creek flows into the South Fork Holston River. There are several privately owned gates that must be opened and closed as you pass through pastures and farmlands.
When you reach the South Holston Trestle stop and have a drink and snack before tackling the last 7-mile uphill stretch. The view of the River Knobs and the Great Knobs is excellent any time of the year. Wildlife, birds and farm animals are abundant in this area. As you enter Abingdon you will probably encounter several local folks walking the gentle slopes, they love to talk about their trail.
Before loading your bike on the car for the trip home, stop, rest and pause for a moment. It is hard to imagine a more pleasurable 33-mile bike ride. The scenery is gorgeous, the whole trip and the ride is easy for the experienced rider.Abingdon to Whitetop and Back
If you love to ride your bike and camp in the wilderness then the Virginia Creeper Trail should be at the top of your travel list. Pack plenty of gear and food for this two day trip. Make sure you are in good enough shape for a 17.5-mile climb to finish your first day’s ride.
Begin this trip at the trailhead in Abingdon (point #8 on our map). The first 15.5-miles into Damascus will be just a warm-up for the climb into the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. It is a good idea to take a lunch break in Damascus and rest a little before you tackle the climb ahead. Once you leave Damascus the grade begins increasing with the last 3 miles from Green Cove to Whitetop being a 6% grade. You’ll pass many riders headed in the opposite direction. Most people take the easy road and just ride downhill. It takes a special dedication to climb these mountains pedaling a loaded bicycle.
A trail rider pulls in for a rest stop at Straight Branch trailhead.
Camping is permitted in nearly all of the Mount Rogers Area. Visit our Lodging and Camping page for all the details you need to plan your trip. If you love to climb mountains on your bike but need a real bed to sleep in there are several nice B&B inns in the area around Green Cove Station.
After a good nights rest the 33-mile ride back to Abingdon will be a breeze. Repack all your gear including trash and leave early. Take your time on the return trip. Stop and enjoy some of the great views you pedaled past yesterday as you were pumping up the mountain. The natural beauty of the area never seems to end.Evening Stroll in Abingdon
One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Virginia Creeper Trail begins with an overnight stay in or around Abingdon. To help you find a place to stay check out our Lodging & Camping page. After checking in and settling down a 4 mile evening walk on the Creeper will bring your day to a pleasant end.
Begin your walk heading east from the Abingdon trailhead (point #8 on our map). A half mile out you will see the mansion of early Virginia governor W. Robertson. You will pass several large homes with gorgeous landscaping. Homeowners like to show off their gardening skills for trail users. There are benches along the way in case you decide to stop and admire the view or watch the golfers out on the course.
This grain mill is directly across the parking area from trestle #1 at the Abingdon trailhead.
At the 2 mile point you will be in the middle of a line of hills know as the Great Knobs. How the Knobs got their name will be obvious when you see them yourself for the first time. Enjoy the view as long as you can and take plenty of pictures to share with friends. Head back to Abingdon and check out the last steam engine to struggle up the mountain on display at the trailhead. If you are lucky you might even catch the sunset behind the grain mill that is still serviced by the railroad.