Friday, November 5, 2010
Virginia Creeper Bike Trail
My second major jaunt after my daughter went off to college was not a hike, but a biking trip. However, since she is a student at ETSU which is practically on the way, I talked her into going with me and another friend. I drove up early on a Saturday morning in September. We arrived at the bike shop, Adventure Damascus, which would ferry us up to the top of the mountain, loaded our bikes, purchased a lightweight jacket since it was much cooler up there than I had expected, and loaded into the van. After about a 30 minute drive to the head of the Creeper trail, we disembarked from the van, unloaded the bikes, and mounted up. What a terrific trip! The Creeper is an old railroad bed which has been converted to a bike trail as a part of the Rails to Trails initiative. The soft gravel surface of the trail is wide enough to ride side-by-side, but there are many places where this probably is not a good idea. You also need to be careful if you need to stop quickly since this surface will make you skid easily in a situation like that.
We spent most of our time single file to safely enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The scenery on the Virginia Creeper Trail is breathtaking in many places and serene pretty much all the way through. My favorite parts were probably the old trestles that crossed over the river and some fairly deep gorges in a couple places. Our 10 a.m. departure from the bike shop meant that we were ahead of much of the traffic that would find it's way to the trail later in the day. We were able to stop for lunch along the trail at a little restaurant that caters to bikers, the Creeper Trail Cafe. They do a really nice job providing food for all those hungry folks riding or walking the trail. The chocolate cake was delicious and I highly recommend you don't miss it! Toward the end of the first section, about 13 miles into the trip, the otherwise downhill path levels out and you have to do some pedaling. However, even this part of the trail is not strenuous. It was an enjoyable ride that I will certainly repeat!
One more recommendation I will make. After you have ridden the trail, plan to see a theatrical performance at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia. We saw "The Full Monty" that night, and it was quite well done and a delightful performance. I will definitely see another performance there again.