So tomorrow is my 35th birthday, and seeing how my birthday is during the week and I didn't take any days off, my darling wife decided she we would take me somewhere fun and special this past weekend. She rented us a nice little compact car to get up there and back and set up reservations with the Creeper Trail Bike Rentals. Initially, she thought it would be neat to rent a tandem bike, however considering we are both control freaks, and it was an off-road trail, upon reaching the bike rental shop she had reconsidered the cuteness of a bicycle built for two and we opted instead for individual steeds to carry us to Damascus. Hmm that somehow sounds like a song that should be wrote, "Riding to Damascus". Maybe I should change this entry's name?
Upon choosing our steeds, settling our affairs with the nice and lovely shopkeeper, and squaring away our gear, we were off on a 2.5 - 3 hour 19 mile adventure. I won't mention the fact that Robin had been diagnosed with a nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection just the day before, but she planned this prior to getting sick, and well she's stubborn and wouldn't take no for an answer. Have I mentioned how much I love that woman? Tough as nails I tell ya.
So our first stop along the trail, there was a few, was at White Top Station. It was 2 miles from the bike rental place to the station.White Top Station was a train depot along the railroad that is now the Virginia Creeper Trail. That's right, the Virginia Creeper Trail is a part of the Rails to Trails program. The trail actually starts at the North Carolina/Virginia line, which is about a half mile further back from the station, but for all intents and purposes, White Top might as well be the beginning. At an elevation of around 3500', White top was the last station in Virginia along the Rail line. The building that stands there now is a replica of the original station. After a brief visit inside, we were ready to continue on our way.
The trail meanders through dense, lush forest land and many Christmas Tree farms. This is likely one of the areas richest commodities. Frasier Firs are grown everywhere in the Highlands of Southwest Virginia, and there are plenty of farms to prove it along the trail. The odd thing we had noticed, well Robin more so than I at this point, was that we didn't see any Virginia Creeper along the trail. You'd think with a name like The Virginia Creeper Trail, the place would be covered in it, but alas there was hardly any at all. As a matter of fact, we've got more on and around our deck, that that trail has.
Our next major stop along the way was Green Cove station. This was the last station on the trail between White Top and Damascus. The Green Cove station is still the original building that now serves as a museum and rest stop for all who bike, hike, or ride horse back along the trail. The building contains several items worthy of note from a museum perspective. We highly suggest a stop here and take a look around.
Since time was getting short we were on our way again. There were several little stops here an there to take in the sights and sounds. Halfway down the trail is Taylor's Valley. Here is a nice little town with a cafe for you to stop in and grab a bite to eat. For us, we didn't have enough time to stop and gallivant. So instead, we opted to stop long enough for a cigarette before heading down the trail. We had to be in Damascus to catch the shuttle back up to White Top by 4:30 and it was already 3:30 or so and we still had 10 miles to go.
Traveling the Virginia Creeper trail, there are several trestles to cross, wild flowers galore to gaze, and cool breezes from the creeks to enjoy. Also, there are several hikers on the trail along the way. It just so happens that the Appalachian Trail joins with the Virginia Creeper in 3 different segments. Additionally there are several cottages along the trail that serve as Bed and Breakfasts.
We eventually made it to Damascus and with a few minutes to spare before the shuttle arrived to carry us back to our starting point to begin our trek home. It was a lovely ride, and we intend on going again at some point in the near future. There is so much to offer in the Damascus and White Top area. There are 3 different parks, miles and miles of trails, stores and more to delight your fancy. Before we headed for home we stopped at a little ice cream parlor to treat ourselves to a job well done.
Just a couple tips before the pics...
- The trail is a bit bumpy at times, so always be alert.
- I highly suggest padded shorts or a gel seat. If you haven't rode a bike in a while, you will have a sore bum the next day. We guarantee it. However, don't let that stop you from one of the most enjoyable bike rides one can take.
- There is no cell phone service on the trail.
- Check out this site for more information: The Virginia Creeper Trail Guide.
Now for the pics.
Enjoy and happy trails,
Tim and Robin
Robin and I at White Top Station
White Top Station
Tim Crossing a Trestle
Tree Hugger Robin
Tree Hugger Tim
Green Cove Station
He's Got a Little Captain in Him
The AT and The Virginia Creeper