Tuesday, October 23—The Upper Virginia Creeper Trail

Cookeville, TN, was in the rearview mirror by 9:00 AM, and we were driving east towards Virginia. Crossing into EDST, another hour was taken away from our already shortened day. The goal today was to ride the Rail Trail Hall of Fame Virginia Creeper Trail. We arrived at Whitetop, VA, a small mountain town near the Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee border.

Whitetop Mountain Trailhead, Virginia Creeper Trail

Whitetop Mountain is part of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

I rode south about 0.7 mile to the actual trail beginning at the North Carolina-Virginia state line before turning around and heading north and downhill towards Abingdon, Virginia.

Mile “0” of the Virginia Creeper Trail

With the constant downhill slope, little to no pedaling was required; however, it was slow going due to rough trail conditions and incredible scenery. Under a dense canopy of colorful trees, the trail generally followed a mountain stream rushing downhill among car-sized boulders. And yes, it was a bit cool, about 50°.

Beautiful scenery and Christmas tree farms abound along the trail

Downhill for 17 miles

Mountain stream adjacent to the trail most of the way

Leaves have begun to change colors

With all the stops, it became apparent that I would not be able to pedal and the entire 30+ miles before dark. However, all attempts to phone Kay to change the pickup point proved futile because of “no service” cell phone coverage. As I pulled into Damascus, Virginia, “Trail Town USA”, coverage resumed and a pickup was arranged. (Damascus, Virginia, a small town of about 8000 people in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia is known as Trail Town USA, because seven nationally known trails intersect within its borders, including the famous Appalachian Trail. I have read several stories and books referring to Damascus as a resupply point for those hiking the Appalachian Trail, including AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller.

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