Bike the Virginia Creeper Trail

Cycling the Virginia Creeper Trail (VCT) is an exciting experience that will take you through historic areas of a beautiful state. The trail dates back to the industrial boom of the 1880s, and sections of it follow the railway. The trail was officially opened three decades ago, and is maintained by a partnership between the US Forest Service, the municipalities, and the volunteers of the Virginia Creeper Trail Club. Of all the bike trails in North Carolina, this one just over the border in Virginia takes the cake.

Cycling the Virginia Creeper Trail will take you through historic areas of the beautiful state

Trail Overview

The trail has been created and maintained along a former railroad bed and across dozens of high-trestle bridges. Riding is easy – if you can handle a hand brake, you’re good to go! One of the best biking and hiking trails near Sugar Mountain, the trail well-groomed and rich in natural beauty and regional history.

The Virginia Creeper Trail stretches 34 miles from Abingdon, Virginia down through the lovely town of Damascus, VA, (known as the Heart of the VA Creeper) along the Whitetop Laurel River and up to its highest point Whitetop Station near the NC State Line at Whitetop, Virginia. Most guests at Sugar Mountain cabin rentals and residents prefer the 18-mile “downhill” run from the top of Whitetop Mountain to downtown Damascus, with a stop at the famous Creeper Trail Cafe for lunch.

The VCT has moderate elevation, with the greatest elevation change – about 1600 feet in 17 miles – in the descent from Whitetop Station to the town of Damascus. This stretch of the trail takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to ride. From here, cycle another two hours or so to get to the trailhead in Damascus.

You may not have the time or energy to cycle the entire trail – that’s ok! Check out the VCT website for a list of the many access points along the way, as well as their exact addresses. This way, you can do just a section of the trail and bring the whole family along.

For a quick side trip, visit the Linville Caverns in Humpback Mountain – a site both geologists and adventurers will love. It is located just south of Sugar Mountain cabin rentals and along the main highway.

Special Events

The VCT has an active member group, known as the “Creeper Keepers,” who volunteer year-round to maintain the trail. If you’re a local or regular visitor to the area, there are plenty of ways to get involved. This group hosts regular events, including fairs, festivals, and rides to engage the community in the outdoors.

One of the trail’s most popular annual events is the Creeper Trail Ride to Honor Lawrence the Legend, an 86-year-old trail ambassador who has cycled thousands of miles on the trail. Another popular event is the Rails to River Ride for Taylor, a ride from Abingdon to Alvarado, where a beautiful shelter was built as a tribute to Taylor Read, who died in 2015. Donations for this ride go to supporting the Creeper Trail Club’s activities.

Finding the Trail

The trail has a number of access points, with the main ones being at Whitetop Station, Damascus, and Abingdon. A great place to start is the Virginia Creeper Trail Welcome Center, located at 300 Green Spring Rd., Abington, VA, at one of the trailheads.

A detailed map indicating trailheads, trestle bridges, mile markers, and rest shelters is available for purchase online.

Visit www.vacreepertrail.com, make reservations with one of the bike shops and let them transport you up to the mountain top for a glorious day. Ranked #1 among 10 attractions near Damascus, this stunning trail is about an hour’s drive from Sugar Mountain. If you’re visiting Sugar Mountain during the winter, there are plenty of snowy ways to enjoy the area. Instead of cycling the trail, travel it on cross-country skis instead. On the way home in the late afternoon, stop by the historic Mast General Store in Valley Crucis. After the kids load up with candy, the adults will enjoy a visit to one of our local wineries, which we will cover in detail in a future blog. Be sure to check back often.

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