The Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail offers scenic wonders from dense forests, open fields and lush waterways to railroad relics and delightful small towns. Cyclists and equestrians love the length of the Creeper, and many local walkers and joggers take advantage of the pleasant opportunity for a little exercise.
The trail officially begins at the VirginiaNorth Carolina border, but the easiest place to start the Creeper is from the Whitetop Station trailhead. (However, to cover the entire trail, simply ride the extra mile from Whitetop to the North Carolina border before turning around to begin your journey.)
The first 17-mile stretch to Damascus allows for numerous restroom breaks at its many trailheads, some of which are housed in restored railroad depots. This section travels through terrific scenery, from Christmas tree farms and grazing llamas to river views and deep forestland. The Appalachian Trail also weaves on and off the Creeper. After going through dense trees, you will emerge to glide over bridges high above Laurel and Green Cove creeks.
Around the midpoint of the Virginia Creeper Trail, you'll reach the Damascus trailhead. Before tackling the rest of the trail, consider taking a break in this sweet town. Damascus is the self-proclaimed friendliest town on the trail, and it won't take you long to see why: here you'll find restrooms, a caboose housing an information booth, a replica train engine and parking. Veer off the trail to find lunch stops and bike shops in town.
After your break, get ready for a little work; from Damascus to trail's end in Abingdon, a little more effort is required. The constant downhill is exchanged for a flat grade with some gentle rises and descents. It's not strenuous but it is a change from the first section. If you are bicycling, be aware that abundant equestrian use just after Damascus can leave its mark on the trail surface and give you a bumpy ride. But don't let a few bumps get you down. They start to peter out about 7 miles before Abingdon, and some of the Creeper's most beautiful river and farmland views are still ahead.
On a ridgeline high above the South Fork of the Holston River, you will emerge onto a bridge offering invigorating views of South Holston Lake below. As you continue your journey toward Abingdon you will run into cattle gates across the trail. These gates mark your entrance to the Creeper's expansive grazing meadows. This tranquil farmland accompanies you for much of the remainder of the journey.
About a half mile from Abingdon is a public park with restrooms, picnic areas and a water fountain. Just across the last bridge, you will reach the endpoint. If you are traveling to the Virginia Creeper from out of town, consider that many bike shops in Damascus and Abingdon offer bike rentals and a shuttle to the Whitetop Station trailhead.
Parking and Trail Access
To get to the Whitetop Station trailhead, follow US Hwy. 58 east from Abingdon into Grayson County. Turn right on VA Route 726 and head south toward the North Carolina border. You will see the parking area off of 726.
To get to the Abingdon trailhead, head south on Main Street (US Hwy. 11) in Abingdon and turn right onto Pecan Street. There is a large locomotive engine on display by the trailhead, which you can see to the left of the parking lot.