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Find the top rated atv trails in Johnson City, whether you're looking for an easy short atv trail or a long atv trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a atv trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
I had high expectations for the Virginia Creeper Trail as I heard many great things about the trail. I feel the Creeper is an average trail that did not live up to my expecations but still worth my trip from Philadelphia.
I started at White Top Depot and rode to the terminus at Abingdon. I rode on Labor Day and started early to avoid the crowds I had read about. The section to Damascus is almost all down hill which I did not enjoy, I felt that I wasn't doing any work for my mileage. The path isn't in the best shape so I needed to always pay attention to my speed and the path ahead and couldn't take in the scenery as much as I would've liked to. Damascus is a cyclist town as there are multiple bike shops and places to eat and is a perfect half way point to rest.
The second half of the Creeper from Damascus to Abingdon offered a much better ride to me as I had to actually pedal and work a bit which I enjoyed. The trail seemed to be in better condition and I was able to take in the scenery more. The cattle gates do require you to stop but I didn't mind as it was a nice change of pace from the constant downhill from White Top to Damascus.
The scenry is beautiful and changes from farmland to breathtaking views from some of the larger trestles. There are bathrooms at each trail head but there is no cell service until you get close to Abingdon so plan accordingly. I was able to get ahead of the crowds if I didn't I don't think my ride would've been as enjoyable. The section from White Top to Damascus is narrow and I could see issues with unskilled riders. If you are looking for an easy 17 mile ride I would highly recommend the ride from White Top to Damascus, as an avid rail trail rider I found the Creeper to be average.
Great shorter rail trail to ride. Pretty waterfalls along the way but don’t worry about looking at any of the views on the way down... you will need to take a lot of breaks on the way back up so disguise your breaks as photo ops!! Honestly, it is one of the steeper Rail Trails that I have been in that is an “In and Out” Trail but it is worth the ride. We just had to take a lot of breaks on our way back out because our 60 year old thigh muscles just weren’t in the best of shape yet!
My wife and I travel the country to ride rails to trails.
This trails has it all , scenery, friendly people and a nice wide
trail great for hybrid bikes. Elizabethton has a cover bridge and
a small town fill. Johnson City is the place to stay and downtown
is up and coming with restaurant and breweries. The trail even has a BBQ
restaurant on the trail. The trail could use restrooms is stead of
porta johns. Other then that you will enjoy the ride ! Lattie Dockery
The trail sites are spectacular. We parked at Damascus our first day and biked up the mountain. We were warned by two locals that I spoke to that the trail would be of heavy use of people coming down the mountain. The ride up is not that hard. If you are in fair shape the slope is not bad. The trail itself is more dirt and rock than crushed stone. The bridges that you cross all have 1-2 inch edges that make it difficult to get on the bridge. About 5 miles up we began to meet bikers in groups of 10-12 or more. Twice I had to yell lookout. These weekend bikers do not know the rules of the trail. 2-3 wide and not moving over. These groups are bused to the top so they can coast down. We easily met over 200 bikers. We will bike this part again but not on a weekend. The next day we parked 4 miles south of Abingdon. This part of the trail is in better condition with crush stone. We rode to Abingdon first and there is an old locomotive to see. Again the scenery is nice to look at. You will also cross over a lake between mile marker 7-8. The bad part of this trail, 6 times you have to open gates to ride this trail. I talked to a local and asked why. I was told this is private property and the farmer is trying to keep his cattle out. From what I read this is not private property but owned by Abingdon. Overall this is a beautiful trail. Well worth our trip from Pittsburgh. RDD
I have a somewhat different viewpoint from "The Better Half" review. I found the ride up from Damascus to Whitetop to be pretty strenuous, taking me nearly five hours to go the 18 miles (not 16). This includes numerous breaks, including the nearly life-saving one at Green Cove, which is about 3 or 4 miles from Whitetop. The ride down took only about an hour and 45 minutes, not including the break for a delicious burger at the Creeper Trail Cafe. After riding uphill for hours, the ride down was a blessed relief, though it can indeed be quite bumpy. Also could be quite dangerous. I'm sure there are some epic wipeouts. On my way up a large group of people were gathered around a teenage girl (who was wearing sandals!) on the ground with an injured leg who had apparently taken a spill. But the ride up is indeed where you can really appreciate the many spectacular views of the white water rivers. So many you may become blase' about them, particularly as you become more and more fatigued, because of course the trail gets steeper the further you go. On the way down, unless you stop, you barely take in the scenery. You're too focused on not having a wreck. I think it gives an indication on how challenging the ride up is that though many, many people were going down - often in large groups - when I went downhill I met not a single person - not ONE - who was going up. Don't be fooled into thinking it's not tough. And oddly, there are very few benches along the way for resting. Between Damascus and Abingdon, there are many benches.
This elevation chart is informative. http://www.vacreepertrail.us/images/elevations.jpg
First half gets 4 stars, second half gets 1.
Starting in Johnson City, the first 4 1/2 or 5 miles are good, with the kind of scenery and environment you want on a trail. But then you come out of the trees and the trail runs besides a very busy highway and you're surrounded by traffic and businesses and I believe it stays that way more or less for the rest of the trail. The second half would be good for locals commuting, but hardly my idea of an enjoyable recreational trail. Go five miles and then turn around.
We rode the trail from Abingdon to Straight Branch Trailhead and back on Monday and from Straight Branch to NC Border and back on Tuesday. This would be an easy one day one way ride and most likely doable forward and back over entire trail for riders who are in good shape.
The trail has immense natural beauty and the trestles are cool. We saw turkeys, deer, snakes, geese, herons or cranes, ducks and many other wild birds along the way.
The trail is basically downhill from Abingdon to the Holsten River crossing and then uphill from there. The grade from Damascus to Whitetop is much steeper but not overwhelming. I would be scared to try and attempt the return from Whitetop to Damascus on a weekend due the steeper grade which allows you to drift easily to 15-20 mph. It was a little challenging getting around the downhill bikers who were bused to the top from bike rental shops in Damascus. This section of could be dangerous for inexperienced bikers such as young children or older adults who are not bike savvy.
The trail was generally in good shape with a few rough spots. The trail was primarily crushed stone. The last 1.2 miles from Whitetop to the NC border is relatively unmaintained compared to rest of trail. Quite frankly it is an incentive to ride to NC border and would encourage better maintenance, also would be nice to get NC to continue with the development (thank you Damascus and Abingdon for your efforts). I also think a short shunt to Tennessee would be cool since it is so close.
We ate lunch at the Creeper Cafe and food was good and filling.
The diversity along the trail from farm fields to falling rivers and creeks was very nice. Need to watch out for the cows in a few locations we almost had a collision. Stopping for gates was annoying but understand the need and appreciate the willingness of property owners to allow the trail to be used on their property.
We parked at Stonebrook Pl, about the halfway point. Riding east takes you through scenic woods along Reedy Creek, ending at a small waterfall just before the trail goes up the hill to Exchange Place. Turning around and heading west to Rotherwood takes you through downtown, neighborhoods, and along the Holston River. While going through downtown, you are only 2 blocks from Pals. Stop and have a peanut butter chocolate milkshake. Then take a ride on the carousel next to Food City. About 15miles round trip, mostly shaded, flat, and paved. Be aware that the trail runs right along Reedy Creek, so if there was a heavy rain, the section east of Stonebrook will be under water for a day or two.
As most of the other reviews have said, the popular thing to do is park in Damascus and take a shuttle to the top, and then coast most of the 15 mi back to Damascus. A great family outing, but it does not involve much pedaling. On the other hand, going uphill from Damascus to Whitetop is a real thigh burner only for the athletic. So don't overlook the other half of the trail. Park in Alvarado (follow signs to the winery off US58, then about 1/2 mi past) and take the gradual ride uphill 8mi to Abingdon. Then when you turn around, it is an easier gradual downhill ride back to the car. Very scenic, crossing a large trestle, farmland and woods. You can also go Alvarado to Damascus, but it runs along a road much of the way and is not as scenic. The Creeper trail is not paved, but the small gravel is very easy for a hybrid bike.
Most of the reviews you read talk about the van ride from Damascus to White Top for the long coast down. I told my wife about this and she informed me we could ride our bikes up the trail then coast down. This statement was accompanied by mutterings of burning calories and staying healthy. So I said what any good husband says...."Yes Dear". We rode the 16 miles up from Damascus to White Top. It's not that difficult. Most of the ride is only 1% or 2% grade with the last 3 miles being the toughest at a 3% grade. The slower pace allows the rider to see the more beautiful parts of the river. We continued beyond White Top to the North Carolina border (An extra mile) before doing the long coast back to Damascus and a meal. We did not enjoy the ride down, too bumpy and constantly riding your brakes. The ride up is better.
We stayed in Abingdon so we decided we would start the creeper at its most westerly point and ride to Damascus, eat lunch, then return. My wife and I both enjoyed this section of the Creeper much more than the eastern half that most people ride. Beautiful long trestle bridges, scenic overlooks and the red bud trees in their full spring pink. Be prepared to stop and open some farm gates but the ride is great with roughly a 300 foot elevation change over 16 miles.
After biking 34 miles the first day and 32 miles the second, we finished back in Abingdon with enough time to visit the local winery and then dinner at a place called "The Tavern". It's a little up-scale and expensive but we enjoyed an excellent meal, and they don't mind if you are wearing your biking clothes.
The reason for a four-star rating of the Creeper is the crowding of fast downhill bikers on the eastern half making the trail less peaceful and a very high local tax in Abingdon on top of state tax leading to 12.5% tax on your purchases.
We spent two days in Abington for the trail. One day for each direction. We came down to White Top on day one to Abington and reversed our direction on day 2. We saw deer, wild turkey and rabbits early in the morning. A shading canopy made it most delightful. Most people ride down from White Top but the ride up is great too. It starts at one percent for a few miles, then two and finally three. With 45 bridges and all the historical and info markers, it is quite a ride. I recommend avoiding weekends as it gets very busy. Damascus is fun and thecrestaurants in Abington are exceptional. And there are NO fast food joints. Go and have a great time. Oh yea, no cell service so take a spare tube and the necessary tools for the trip.
We took a shuttle to Whitetop Station and planned on riding the entire trail then back to Damascus where we parked. The rain was so heavy there only made it back to Damascus where the young man at Damascus Adventure hosed our bikes and us down. It seems to me the trail between Whites and Damascus could use a little grading and more gravel on the surface. The re could be some pruning on the trees and shrubs too. I wish the weather would have cooperated but it is what it is. I would love to go back and try again. There were plenty of friendly people on the trail and on the shuttle.
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