DAMASCUS, VA — Located about three hours from Travelers Rest, the town of Damascus, VA, serves as an excellent starting point for a Virginia Creeper Trail bike riding excursion.
Whether you choose to bring your own bike or rent one from a local outfitter, you can catch a 25-minute shuttle ride in Damascus to Whitetop Station in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area at the Virginia-North Carolina border. From there, it's a little over a 17-mile bike ride back to Damascus, most of which is downhill.
(Advertisement. Continue reading below.)
From near the top of the second highest peak in Virginia, the Creeper Trail — a multi-use rail-to-trail conversion much like the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail — meanders its way through some spectacular scenery: open farmlands and fields, dense forests, Christmas tree farms, and rushing streams.
On the way, you’ll sail across wooden trestles and, at times, travel alongside one of Virginia’s largest and most beautiful wild trout streams. The Appalachian Trail also intersects and traverses the Creeper at a few points along the journey between Damascus and Whitetop.
Biking from Whitetop Station (approx. 3500' elevation) to Damascus (about 1900' elevation) takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on your pace. (Note: The Virginia Creeper Trail continues from Damascus for another 17 miles to Abingdon, VA, offering a longer excursion option. Add another 2 hours or so on mostly flat trail to travel from Damascus to Abingdon.)
For a family of four (three adults/one child), bike rentals and the shuttle ride from Damascus to Whitetop cost a total of $114 at a local Damascus outfitter.
Editor's Note: Bike rental and/or shuttle reservations are STRONGLY encouraged, especially during peak leaf season on weekends. Don't expect to have cell phone coverage for the duration of the trip.
For more information, visit the Virginia Creeper National Recreational Trail website here.
For a list of local outfitters for bike rental and/or shuttle rides, click here.
To learn more about Damascus, visit the town's website here.
Related on the Tribune: Worth the Drive: Elk viewing in Cataloochee Valley
Subscribe to the Tribune's free, weekly eNews.