Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Virginia Creeper Trail

Gabby and Merrill Lynch (yes, that is his real name), the owners of Echo Valley Farm, highly recommended that we take a ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail.  This bike trail is part of the Rails to Trails network, of which we have a nice segment in Inverness, Florida.  Rails to Trails is exactly what it sounds like.  Former railroad tracks are removed and the land is donated by railroads or purchased by local organizations and/or governmental units and converted to bicycle trails.

The Virginia Creeper Trail is unique in several aspects. Most important to us is that 17 of its 34 mile length is mostly a gentle slope or flat land.  That is the segment Sandy and I rode yesterday. We drove into Abingdon,VA where we rented bikes, helmets and gel seats and took their shuttle to to White Top Station.

When we reached our starting point it was overcast and a bit on the cool side and I was wishing I would have worn my nylon windbreaker.  But neither of us did, so we took off and began our ride. The first couple of hundred yards were actually on a very slight incline and I thought I was gonna have a long hard day.  But soon after that we began to glide downward and the enjoyment set it.  It is truly very beautiful on this trail.
Our first stop was at the Green Cove station.  It is hard to describe the beauty here.  It is idyllic and peaceful.  And at one time it was the center of the universe for people living for miles around. There was a daily train that carried passengers, mail, provisions and more.  It was a link to the outside world. This is one of two railroad stations preserved on the lower section of the trail.  The stations are authentic in every detail and it is like stepping back in time to go inside.

What the station looked like back in the day.  The station had a post office and general store.

How it looks today.  Much of the original merchandise is still on display.
Parts of the forest are "old growth" which means that the trees have never been logged. We slowly transitioned from forest to farmland and back again.  Along a greater portion of the trail we followed are active streams with the sound of rushing water filling our ears as our eyes took in all of the beauty.

We even rode past a Christmas tree farm.

Some of the time the trail was very smooth and at others it was a bit on the bumpy side and most of the time I had to periodically glance at the trail because of stones and ruts that could be problematic. 


When we reached Taylor's Valley, a very tiny town, we stopped here for lunch.  Don't let the exterior fool you.  The food was excellent and the "World Famous chocolate cake" (their claim) is as good as any I've ever had in a restaurant. We needed the rest and the sustenance for the final seven miles to the town of Damascus, VA where we would be picked up by the bike shop shuttle.

At least 60 percent of the trail we rode is shaded.  One neat aspect is that parts of the bike trail parallel or intersect with the world famous Appalachian Trail.  We saw some very experienced-looking hikes a couple of times.

In the photo above the Appalachian Trail is the gravel path in the foreground.

A real log cabin home.

When we reached Damascus,VA we had been on the trail about 3 and a half hours.  We were weary but happy that we were able to experience this unique trail.

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