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The Virginia Creeper Trail
Abingdon and her nearest sister town, Damascus, share the Virginia Creeper Trail, which is part of the rails to trails conversion project. Once a footpath of Native Americans and a road west for early pioneers, including Daniel Boone, the trail was in more modern times a mountain railroad between Abingdon and the Virginia-North Carolina border about a mile east of Whitetop Community. The train shuttled iron ore, lumber, products and passengers until it was retired in 1977.
This 34-mile trail is perfect for hikers, bikers, and horseback. The trip is easy to break into 2 parts: from Whitetop to Damascus, and from Abingdon to Damascus (or vice versa for those who want to go uphill rather than down). The original locomotive is on display at the trailhead in Abingdon.
The trail runs through some of the most rugged and beautiful parts of the state. Hikers will enjoy 100 trestles and bridges, sharp curves, and steep grades. Since the trail parallels a creek bed, hikers might enjoy frequent stops to walk out across big river rocks to get a better look. Parts of the trail go through private farms adding even more wonderful vistas for the imagination. The trail's lowest point crosses South Holston Lake at 1,750 feet above sea level, and the highest point is at Whitetop Community at 3576 feet. The trail is at nearly 7 percent grade. Bike rental and shuttle services are available in both Abingdon and in Damascus.
There are a couple of stops along the way on the upper portion of the trail, including Green Cove, an old station that served as the post office and general store. In fact, the products available for sale when the train stopped running are still on the shelves, much like a living time capsule. There is also a small museum. Snacks and trail souvenirs are available for sale. Another stop is Taylors Valley where the Creeper Trail Cafe offers lunch and ice cream for many a hiker. On the lower trail between Abingdon and Damascus, there is a stop at Alvarado, about 9 miles from Abingdon.
Official Virginia Creeper Trail Club website:http://www.vacreepertrail.org/
For bike shops, shuttles, and other information check: http://www.adventuredamascus.com/Trail, Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop (near the trailhead in Abingdon), Adventure Damascus (bicycle rental and shuttle services in Damascus), Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle Services (in Damascus), and The Bike Station (bicycle rental and shuttle services in Damascus)