We get out about once a week to hike usually in central to western North Carolina. We hike slowly and stop often to enjoy the views and the little treasures that nature offers. We enjoy waterfall, river, and mountain hikes frequently visiting The Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Moutains National Park, and Pisgah National Forest.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 33.4 mile shared use trail that was once a railroad line. We chose to bicycle the upper 17 mile section renting bikes in Damascus. The shuttle ride to Whitetop Station took about thirty minutes. Even on a weekday there were several vans unloading when we arrived at the trailhead. This must be a very busy trail on the weekend.
This trail is constantly downhill. I spent more time braking then peddling although the trail was never steep. The first few miles are through woods with some rock cuts. The trail is mostly wide and smooth but it is a natural surface so there are some small bumps and ruts along the way. About three miles down is the Green Cove Station with a combination old general store and restrooms.
Portions of this trail are through Jefferson National Forest and Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area but parts of it are through private property. We traveled through wooded areas along Laurel Creek and past rural residential areas. There were many places to stop by the creek. About seven miles down we passed the Creek junction trail head with parking and restrooms.
About twelve miles into the ride we arrived in Taylor's Valley. There was a roadside stand advertising the lowest prices for lunch on the trail but we continued on a short distance to the Virginia Creeper Cafe where we ate lunch at a table in an air conditioned restaurant. I should mention that the wooded nature of the trail kept the temperature comfortable even on this hot summer day.
There are many trestles along the trail but none of them are extremely high or offer vistas of the mountains. The views are of the valleys, woods, and streams. The ride is very pretty and relaxing. The people we along the trail were all polite and friendly. We encountered construction at one of the trestles and had to walk our bikes across.
A few miles from the end of the ride we passed small but pretty Whitetop Laurel Falls. As we were looking for the nearby geocache a ranger on a bike cautioned us that a copperhead was spotted nearby. Beyond here the trail levels out and we had to pedal continuously for the first time. Just as we passed the entering Damascus sign we got sprinkled on for a few minutes.
This trail was a lot of fun and not a lot of effort. There were many children enjoying the trail on their own bikes or riding behind their parents. We definitely want to return here.