biking the virginia creeper trail

ALL YOU WANT TO KNOW BEFORE RIDING THE BEAUTIFUL 34-MILE RAIL TRAIL THAT RUNS FROM ABINGDON VIRGINIA TO WHITETOP MOUNTAIN ON THE VIRGINIA / NORTH CAROLINA BORDER

Virginia Creeper Trail Elevation

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a downhill biking destination appropriate for almost any age. The elevation at Whitetop Station is 3500 feet, dropping down to about 1900 feet in Damascus. This is a 17 mile downhill ride. You can ride an additional 17 miles up to Abingdon with an elevation of 2087 feet. Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle offers shuttle service to the top so you can enjoy coasting the long downhill.

Trail Run Surface

You can expect crushed limestone and cinder left over from the rail days. It is hard-packed in most places with some rocky places on the Abingdon to Damascus end of the Trail. There are so many trestles along the trail that each is numbered with an identifying plaque at either end of the bridge. Some are quite short, less than 100 feet long, but the longest are more than 600 feet.

Trail Availability

The trail is open 365 days a year – regardless of weather (though, we encourage you to stay informed of forecasts and be wary of rapidly changing conditions.) Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle offers full moon night rides once a month beginning in April.

Bathrooms Along the Trail

Vault toilets and/or restrooms are available at various points along the trail including the Welcome Center in Abingdon, Alvarado Station, Straight Branch parking lot, Creek Junction parking lot, beside the caboose in Damascus, Green Cove Station and Whitetop Station. 

Cell Phone Signal Along the Trail

Because of the terrain and the rural nature of the trail’s location, cell service is very limited and can be considered “spotty at best”, though service is available in Damascus and Abingdon. Please keep this in mind as you make your plans, and, enjoy being unplugged for a while!

Trail Passes Through Private Property

The Virginia Creeper trail is owned by the towns of Abingdon and Damascus and the US Forest Service, and also passes through private property. Camping along the trail is fine as long as it's not on private property. The US Forest Service/Mount Rogers National Recreation Area also maintains some nice campgrounds.

Day Trip Bike Rental Options

It takes an average of 5.5 hours, including a few stops along the way to bike the entire trail while enjoying the scenery and a bite to eat. From Whitetop to Damascus – 17 miles or so, you can count on approximately 2.5-3 hours and the ride from Damascus to Abingdon is another 17 miles and will take about 2.5 hours. Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle offers both all day and half day bike rentals.

BIKE RENTAL RATES

Creeper Trail Bike Shuttle Service

You can enjoy bike shuttle service for the Virginia Creeper Trail whether you bring your own bike or choose to rent one. Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle was the first Creeper Trail bike shop in Damascus and continues to offer excellent bike rental and shuttle service from Damascus to Whitetop and from Abingdon Virginia to Whitetop.

CREEPER TRAIL SHUTTLE SERVICE

Whitetop Laurel Creek

At times the Virginia Creeper Trail parallels Whitetop Laurel Creek through a deep narrow gorge. While riding the recreational trail you will enjoy views of both the creek’s spectacular whitewater rapids and the occasional quiet swimming hole.

Trail Picnic Shelter

A new picnic shelter is available at the Virginia Creeper Trail Welcome Center. The Welcome Center is located at the trailhead in Abingdon at 300 Green Spring Road. It is open in-season, March to November, Thursdays through Mondays, 11am to 6pm. Bottled water, Creeper Trail merchandise and restrooms can be found inside, as well as knowledgeable staff that can provide additional information on the trail. 

Food and Water Access

There are several places along the trail to grab a bite to eat, including restaurants just off the trail in Damascus and Abingdon.

Dog Friendly Trail

The trail is very dog-friendly! There are some rules that you must follow: All dogs must be on a 6 foot or shorter leash. You must ensure that they don’t suddenly approach cyclists, especially children who are in an unfamiliar environment on a bicycle. All dog owners are required to clean up after their pets. Bring along a bag, or you can find some disposal bags at various points along the trail.

Mobility-Challenged Access to Trail

Special needs buggies that can comfortably fit an average-size adult along with adult tricycles are available for rent at Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle in Damascus.

RENT ONE

One of the Best Rail Trails in the Eastern United States

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a rails-to-trails conservancy trail and regularly attracts thousands of visitors each year. It lies today where once was part of the Norfolk & Western Railway’s Abingdon Line. The line came to be known as “The Virginia Creeper” due to the sluggish speed it traveled up and down the steep mountain grades while transporting timber from atop Whitetop Mountain to a lumber mill in Damascus, VA. It crept so slowly, workers were able to walk beside the train and pick berries before hopping back on. By the late 1920s the local lumber industry had shut down, and for the next 50 years the line served as a passenger train helping to connect the isolated mountain towns in the region. In 1987 the entire 34.3-mile Virginia Creeper Trail was opened to the public. In the 30 some years since its opening, the Creeper Trail remains one of the country’s premier rail-trails, honored as the inductee into the 2014 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Hall of Fame and a recipient of numerous local, regional and national accolades. The Creeper trail is extremely popular with families looking to have an all-day bike trip. Kids will love the downhill, coasting friendly nature of the trail from Whitetop to Damascus. Piggybacking on the popularity of the trail, local fly fishing, rafting, and zipline outfitters have sprung up making the area even more vacation-worthy. If you are an avid mountain biker who seeks out backcountry adventure, you would be hard pressed to find a better area to ride.

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