An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 6, 2008

The Virginia Creeper Trail

Part of our recent time in the mountains was spent on The Virginia Creeper Trail, which was originally used by native Americans. Then pioneers, including Daniel Boone, used it to go west and it was eventually developed into a railway in the early 1900s. The last train ran on it in the 1970s and later it was converted into a multi-use recreational trail for hikers, joggers, bicyclists and horseback riding. It runs from Abingdon through Damascus, Virginia and on to the top at Whitetop Mt. We drove into Damascus which is a small town surrounded by mountains and forests. It is one of the few towns that the Appalachian Trail goes through, and it has a more eco-tourist vibe than other towns in the region. There are lots of B&Bs, reasonable little restaurants, outfitter stores and bike rental shops. We used Adventure Damascus, and for about $24 per person we got bikes, helmets, water bottles and shuttle service.

The shuttle took us to the top of the trail at Whitetop Mt. near the NC border. From here Damascus is 2000' lower and 17 miles away, but you can take as much time as you need to get down the trail. Since it is nearly all downhill, people who might wonder if they are physically up to it, need not worry (except for a possible sore butt). There are lots of places to stop along the way, including a couple of hamlets where you can get food and drink. The trail crosses through pastures, Christmas tree farms and into national forest land following Laurel Creek. Where possible the old railroad trestles are used and these offer great views, in fact there is not a bad vista anywhere along the trail. During the whole trip your lungs are full of cool clean air and you are accompanied by the smell of White Pine, Fir and Hemlock. This was our second trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


  1. Quite beautiful-especially the butterflies, NOT the deer.

  2. Tina,
    Thanks for the compliment. I am sorry if you are plagued with deer. Living in the city, I have other obstacles, but not deer.

  3. Really lovely, it is wonderful to be able to get out and explore our world! I don't mind the deer, they haven't found my yard yet!


  4. What a beautiful trip, Les--thanks for sharing it. I may try to get the Garden Curmudgeon to tackle it with me--maybe even Salix, who's been known to ride a bike once in awhile. Was that a rhododendron in the middle pictures?

    By the way, I was thinking about your "tagged" posting--have you seen this new show called "The Cleaner"? It's not a reality show like Intervention, but it's based on a true story about a guy (played by Benjamin Bratt) who helps people with addictions. I'm, umm, hooked.

  5. From the pictures it is obvious you took as much time as you needed to get down the trail. What a wonderful way to spend a day.

  6. Gail,
    I tried to get a better shot of the two fawns, but they refused to cooperate.

    Yes, that was a rhodo in the set. They were still blooming up there and this was late July. I had to remind myself that I was 3 climate zones from home. Thanks for the Cleaner tip, I'll check it out.

    Yes I did take my time, much to my son's frustration. He wanted to see how quickly we could finish wanting to make it a race. Luckily I laid the ground rules down before the trip.

  7. Hi Les: I enjoyed walking this trail with you. The butterflies are quite beautiful and I just wish that the deer would stay in the woods.

  8. That sounds like a lot of fun. You don't always find activities that the whole family can do--and enjoy.

  9. Layanee,
    I was at my parents house this weekend and they have lots of deer around, but not garden damage. They seem to be content with eating their fill of corn and soy beans.

    One cool thing I saw was a rickshaw-like attachment that gets pulled behind a bike with an 80+ year old gentleman riding in it. I hope that is the kind of stuff I will do at his age.