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.