Except when you really ARE lost. On a one-lane mountain road. Heading in the wrong direction. With no cell coverage. At that moment, the spare tire cover becomes an embarrassment.
Fortunately, the universe provided exactly what we needed, at just the right moment, in the form of a funky little community store. The store was closed, but we were able to connect to the wifi. We figured out where we were, backed down the narrow road, and got ourselves headed in the right direction. Thank you, Green Cove Collective!
Chickens, Kittens, And A Circus: A Unique Campground
After a 20-minute drive on a narrow, winding mountain road, we pulled into the Creeper Trail Campground.
I do believe this is high on the list of our most memorable campgrounds.
Biking The Virginia Creeper Trail
The whole reason we were here was to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail, which had long been on our list of dream trails. Mid-October, as we made our way home from North Carolina, was perfect timing for weather and some fall color. To make it even more fun, we met up with our good friends Beth and Perry to share the adventure.
Some of our favorite biking has been on old railways that have been converted to biking trails. The Virginia Creeper Trail is considered to be one of the premier trails in the Rails-to-Trails network. The trail begins near the Virginia-North Carolina border at Whitetop Station and ends 34 miles later in Abingdon, Virginia. We split the ride into two days, from Whitetop Station to Damascus the first day, and then from Damascus to Abingdon.
Old railroads make for good biking trails because trains can’t typically climb steep grades. But see that elevation change from Damascus to Whitetop? Not doing that! Apparently very few people want to tackle biking up that mountain. We saw only one person biking against the stream of people coasting downhill—and he was on an electric bike. Almost everyone takes a shuttle to the top of the mountain and bikes down (since we were with friends, we created our own shuttle).
The Virginia Creeper is a beautiful trail. Crossing 47 wooden railroad trestles, the scenery is a mosaic of dense forest, open farmland, creeks, small towns, and historic railroad depots.
Day One: Biking From Whitetop Mountain To Damascus
The trailhead for the Virginia Creeper Trail is directly across from the Creeper Trail Campground, so after the “shuttle dance” of leaving one vehicle in Damascus for our return trip, we biked across the road from our campground and set out on the trail.
Day Two: Hiking On The Appalachian Trail
Even though we rode mostly downhill on day one of our biking adventure, we took a break on day two to hike instead of bike. The nearby trail to Mount Rogers, part of the Appalachian Trail, was beautiful.
Day Three: Biking From Damascus To Abingdon
On our third day, we created another shuttle to bike the Creeper Trail from Damascus to Abingdon. It was another 17-mile ride, but we had to bike the entire way. No coasting on this half of the trail, lol.
It was a great three-day adventure with good friends. And the perfect ending for our two-and-a-half month summer/fall mountain escape.
You two find the very best places. What a gorgeous trail and great biking. Especially nice to be able to share it with friends. I am not sure I can quite imagine backing a trailer down a narrow road like that one. whew! At least with the moho we can unhook and drive one vehicle at a time, which we have done! Love the eggs and chickens too. We just stayed at a Harvest Host with a chicken coop and eggs, although it wasn’t exactly charming around the rest of the property. The chickens were world class gorgeous, though, big and fat and shiny. I love chickens. If we didn’t travel, we could have chickens again. Mo and I have both had flocks in our lifetimes in other places. I do not miss the worry about predators, though. It is nearly impossible to completely protect them, even with complete fences. Mo had weasels dig under her coop and pull the chickens down into the holes. Ugh. Loved your photos, Laurel.
Sue, I’ve entertained the idea of having chickens (and goats, lol) but it would be too hard with the travel we want to do. And I can’t imagine having to worry about predators—chickens wouldn’t stand a chance here with the foxes and bears and eagles in our backyard. :-(
I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. The Virginia Creeper is a beautiful bike trail, and the campground was very cool!
That last photo is a hoot! and jeeze, what a perfect escape! it’s almost too good to be true! Your photo compositions are as always devine :)
Terri, Magnolia looks a bit cranky in her photo, doesn’t she? I haven’t told her yet that we’re planning a four-month trip this summer, haha!! I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos. We have fun taking them. I hope you’re doing well!
The creeper trail has been on my list for a couple of years. Since we are heading to Florida next winter I hoping to put it on the route home spring 2023. BTW we are in AZ this winter and moving over to Lost Dutchman St Pk tomorrow-we met you and Eric there a for dinner a few years ago-so I’ve been thinking of you. Still not ready to quit the road but part time travel feels really good. Hope all is well in your neighborhood!! Check our blog for updates.
Hi Pat, definitely put the Virginia Creeper trail on your to-do list. That campground is really sweet, too, and is best for smaller rigs like ours (and yours).
Of course we remember our dinner together at Lost Dutchman several years ago. That’s such a gorgeous area. I’m still missing our full-time travels, but I seem to be settling more into the idea of part-time travel. It helps that we’re enjoying North Florida. Have fun at Lost Dutchman! I’ll catch up with you on your blog. :-)
Thanks for sharing. I’ve enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, your posts over the years!
Charlie, thank you for commenting and letting us know that you’re enjoying our blog! It’s so nice to hear from folks who are reading. :-)
Okay, this just went on my bucket list! Always happy to see a post from you in my mailbox. Best to you both.
Janie, I think you and Russ would really enjoy this area and biking the Creeper Trail. It looks like you’ve had a wonderful winter in south Texas. Stop by on your way home if you like!
Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it. Time really flys. Everything was so green and lush. I love getting fresh eggs like that. We’ve stayed at a spot on the panhandle of Florida where the proprieter runs out to greet you with a rug/mat for your door and a bag of fresh eggs! You do have to give the mat back, but the eggs are yours! Fun little things on the road.
Sue, time is definitely flying by, and I’m on a mission to get caught up on our blog before we take off again in June. I got sidetracked by making our summer plans and reservations—surprise, surprise (haha). I really like quirky little campgrounds, and I think our summer plans include at least a few. Those campgrounds make for good memories, don’t they?
Kudos to you for having the presence of mind to take photos when you were lost down a narrow road. We would be freaking out and then have nothing for the blog. The blog must always come first! :-) And I’m so glad you made enough stops to give us all a photo tour of the Virginia Creeper Trail because it’s gorgeous. I was wondering why you kept extending your stay this summer and then went NORTH instead of south when you left NC but after reading about this great trail everything makes sense. This is definitely worth a detour!
Over the years I really enjoy your web site and the photos you share with
nice statements. Love your lifestyle very much.
Thank you, Bob. We are very grateful for our lifestyle. I trust you’re continuing to photograph and enjoy your California adventures!
Shannon, this was definitely worth the detour! Once we get going on the road I can find all kinds of interesting detours. It’s a good thing Eric is part of the team and eventually gets us back home! As far as photos, I just can’t resist documenting everything, including boo-boos, LOL. I mean, how could I resist the irony of that tire cover on a trailer heading the wrong direction?
Love reading a good adventure story, thanks. We have a wonderful Rail Trail in New Hampshire, it’s call the Northern Rail Trail. We also have an overnight stay hut system in the White Mountains if you folks hike verticals.
Sharyn, we love hiking! And although I hate biking with significant elevation gain, I’m happy to hike with elevation gain. We’ve done a bit of hiking in the White Mountains and it was gorgeous. And the rail trail sounds great. We need to get back to New Hampshire. We were there in fall of 2019 before the world went crazy…I’m going to be writing about it in blog posts in the next couple of months. I hope we see you before then. :-)
Thanks for adding to our list of beautiful places to visit!
Susie, there are so many beautiful places, aren’t there? Our list grows ever longer. Hope you two are doing well.
Some of the most fun and funky places we’ve stayed (Marathon and Terlingua come to mind) were ones you’d been to first – have to put this cutie on our list. Chickens and circus performers seem pretty hard to beat :-) The trail is beautiful and such a perfect repurposing of the railroad track. Love, love the old barns.
Aww, I’m so glad we’ve shared some places that you enjoyed, Jodee. You guys have steered us to some fantastic campgrounds, too—the awesome brewery/campground in Boothbay was one of the best! This was our first time at a campground that had circus performers. I just love this traveling life.
Not all who wander are lost. “Speak for yourself.” LOLOLOLOL
How lucky were you to find a little internet cafe with free wifi in the middle of nowhere! Jeez. I would have bought some lotto tickets that day if I were you.
Love the trails and the towns and the forests and the barns. It’s all so idyllic. And what a perfect place to spend time with friends and wrap up your summer travels! I’m glad you guys had such a good time and it lived up to expectations.
Haha!! Seriously, that was an embarrassing moment. I wanted to rip that tire cover off the spare. But instead, I took photos. Because that’s what we do, right? I know you understand the need to document EVERYTHING, my friend!
Laura, it was such a beautiful, interesting, quirky little place. It really was the perfect ending for our summer/fall travels. I’m glad we had such a good reentry into RVing after the worst of the stupid pandemic or we might be holed up in Eastpoint forever.
Concur with Bob. You’re so lucky.
Thank you for another great post
Thank you, Kathryn. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to travel and explore. I appreciate that you stay in touch. :-)
That looks like such a great ride! I’ve been on a couple of rails to trails rides and they are such a treat. You had such amazing scenery on your ride and it looks like you had great company too. The perfect combination.
Janis, it was a beautiful trail! We’ve ridden many rails-to-trails all over the country, and we always enjoy them. Sharing the adventure with good friends makes everything better. :-)
Greeeeen! And fall colors, two things we mostly missed traveling the “wrong” way in that area. Those rolling hills and quaint farm buildings sure do make for a scenic ride, and any campground with fresh eggs and a watch-kitty is aces in my book! The other day, we saw another kitty in a backpack, this one was a screened pack unlike the kitty in the plastic bubble we saw in Wisconsin, but the POINT (ha!) is you need one, especially for rides like this. I bet you’d get fewer scowlies :D
Hahaha!! Magnolia definitely looks like she’s scowling! I’m not sure how she would take to being stuffed into a kitty backpack. I think we should have started trying that when she was a baby instead of a full-grown 11-pound kitty.
Joodie, I wish you guys had been traveling through the east in any other season than winter. It truly is beautiful. You would love the Creeper Trail and the campground with chickens and a watch kitty! That kitty was only four months old and although it looked big in that photo, it was TINY! But with a huge personality!
Ah, Laurel, this post warmed my heart and brought back great memories. Dear friends of ours used to live in Damascus. In fact, the Creeper ran directly in front of their home on a creek on the outskirts of town, so you rode right past one of our former and favorite “campsites”. When my nephew hiked the Appalachian Trail, our friends welcomed him into their Trail Town home for some hot showers and home cooked meals. The entire town is friendly toward hikers, and it holds a three day “Trail Days” celebration every May.
Small town life at its best. That is such a quietly beautiful area of the country!
That’s a great memory, Mary. I’m sure we passed by your friends’ former home (and your favorite campsite!). Damascus is a sweet little town and it was filled with Appalachian Trail hikers as well as Creeper Trail bikers. I agree, it’s a lovely part of the country, especially in the fall.
Wonderful photographs as usual. I love your header particularly and of course am glad you included a Magnolia picture. She clearly knows she is divine. I remember doing the Creeper Trail years ago when they first set it up and it wasn’t nearly as organized as it clearly is today. Smart idea to do the campground at the top and with chickens no less. Have to join all those who’ve had chickens. We did for years and years. Loved them and their eggs but the predators were non stop. Lots of luck on your side with the wifi in the middle of no where. I’d have been in tough trouble if I’d been in that spot as an Class A towing can’t back up without disconnecting and apparently there was no where to turn around. Ok if there are two to drive each vehicle. Gives me the willies to even think of it alone. Glad you made it I wouldn’t have wanted to miss seeing the campground. Envy you having friends to meet and create your own shuttle. Also a super idea to split the ride with a hike on the AT. How “nearby” was that trailhead??
Sherry, we were very lucky that we realized we were heading in the wrong direction before we got ourselves into real trouble! There was no way for us to turn around, and as you know, backing up for a long distance is no fun when you’re towing anything. The Creeper Trail is very well organized and well maintained—I wonder how it was different when you biked it? The hike we did was only a few miles from the campground and was a nice break from biking. Ms. Magnolia is very gratified that you recognize how divine she is, LOL.
Ugh. I had to back down a narrow road a few times when we had our 19′ Escape trailer. It’s much easier to do so now in our Class C, although we haven’t been lost in a while. The last time was south of Bodega Bay when we decided to take a more scenic route to Petaluma.
I miss the wonderful MOPAC bike trails in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are very much like Rails-to-Trails and are especially lovely in the farmland out in the countryside. We didn’t have any problem with elevation gains, just strong headwinds and the occasional farm dog guarding his territory.
Your bike/hike trip looks so lovely with all the fall colors. Not too hot or too cold, right? Lovely photos, as always!
Lesley, the weather was perfect in mid-October in Virginia! Ideally we would have been there a week later for full fall color, but it was beautiful and the temperatures were grand. We really enjoy dedicated bike trails, so if we ever find ourselves in Lincoln, Nebraska we’ll be sure to check out the MOPAC trails. We’ll choose a non-windy day. I hate headwinds as much as I hate elevation gain when biking. I’m so picky, haha!
What a perfect trail! Multi-day, verdant fields, beautiful forests and a great campground, too! I think Magnolia’s sourpuss look is because she wonders why you haven’t purchased one of those little cat trailers to pull behind your bike! I can just see her little face squinting in the wind. :)
LOL!!! That is most definitely a sourpuss look, Linda! Magnolia does not like being left behind. A cat trailer would be hilarious! Her little face squinting in the wind, hahaha!!
Lovely post Laurel! I despise being lost and my dear husband can’t understand why–neither can I! In fact he and his son came home from an ATV trip last Saturday and Mike said, “you wouldn’t have liked this ride, we were lost all day!” NO, I would not have liked that ride! That was a memorable campground!–circus performers!!
Janna, I think Eric is more bothered by being lost than I am. That’s probably because I have a lot more practice being lost, LOL! But it is a bit disconcerting to be towing a trailer and find ourselves heading up a mountain on a one-way road with the sudden realization we’re going in the wrong direction. :-)
I have always wanted to bike the Creeper Trail. A group from our church goes every year, but something always got in the way. No more excuses, I doin’ it. I have been to Abingdon many times–my brother attended nearby Emory & Henry College and Abingdon was the only place to look for trouble! Thanks for the pictures. Looking forward to hearing more about your summer plans! Have a great weekend! Joe
Joe, the next time you get the chance to bike the Creeper Trail, do it! I’ll bet your church group makes all the arrangements for shuttles. Abingdon looked like a nice town and we would have enjoyed the opportunity for more exploration, but we only walked around a bit after finishing our day of biking. We’ll have to go back sometime and look for trouble, LOL.
What a super cool bike trail with an interesting name!!! Love, love it! Having all the neat places along the way makes it extra fun. And the fall leaves are so pretty. That trestle is spectacular. Amazing. Those red barns with the colored foliage makes for a keeper photo. Sweet!
Pam, the Virginia Creeper is a great trail! And with your new bikes, you could bike both directions. (Although I know the east isn’t in your travel plans, probably ever, LOL.) The fall colors are one of the beautiful things about the east coast, and the red barns look just right in the landscape, don’t they?
Auauaghgh…those pictures! That trail is DEFINITELY on our list. As we approach the Blue Ridge right now, though, I have to acknowledge that it won’t be this year–too much else already going on. But perhaps we might visit some of the spots you highlighted in NC. You’ll find out soon if so!
Heheheh…the opening of this particular post is still making me chuckle.
Gretchen, I think you would love this trail! And you would probably bike it both directions, LOL. I look forward to reading about the adventures you get up to in North Carolina. :-)
Have been in your shoes … most recently in Alaska when we ended up on a road with no signage, no internet, and going to wrong way (as it turns out) while in search of a boondocking site. The good news is that we turned around before we got into a worse scenario as the road down to the boondock was in particularly bad condition per reports from someone who barely made it down the road … in a smaller rig … the day we were trying to get there.
I love bucolic farm and rural scenery that includes red barns.
Erin, being lost in Alaska in a remote area would not be fun! Being ‘lost’ makes for good stories, but we don’t need many of those, right? Bucolic is a perfect word to describe the scenery along the Virginia Creeper Trail. It was a peaceful, beautiful ride, and those red barns were my favorite photo from our adventure. :-)