DAMASCUS, Va. (WJHL) – To most people, a 17-mile bike ride sounds like something only for the most athletic of folks, but one trail in Virginia aims to change that perception.
The Creeper Trail in Damascus is 34 miles in total, but the most famous section of the trail is 17 miles and runs from White Top to Damascus, with a majority of the trail being downhill.
Gary Greer, the owner of Creeper Trail Bike Shop and Rental adds that, “The full trail is 34 miles, but the downhill section from White Top to Damascus, basically anyone can do that. If you can ride a bicycle, you can do that section of the trail. So we get a lot of older people, we get kids, families you know. You can pull a buggie and bring the kids with you, so it’s a very easy bike ride compared to most.”
To learn more about the section of trail that takes riders to Abingdon, watch the video below.
While biking on the trail, it’s important to note that many of the usual amenities, like the train station and bathrooms, are closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
Bikers will need to pack supplies like they are going on a day hike. This includes multiple water bottles, snacks, first aid supplies, toilet paper, extra layers, a map, tools, and any medical supplies (like an inhaler) that you may use.
Before you get going down the trail, there are some general guidelines you need to be aware of:
- Always call out ‘On Your Left’ when passing bikers, and with that, always pass other bikers on their left side.
- Know that pedestrians and those on horseback get the right-of-way.
- Always wear your helmet
- If you’re trying to go fast, avoid coming on the weekend when crowds are larger.
If you have your own bike and want to bring that, it’s allowed! “It’s national forest, so there’s no fee to access the trail unless you go through one of the rental companies,” Greer says. “A lot of people don’t like to load up their bikes and travel with them so it’s convenient to come here, pick up a bike, go up, turn it back in when you’re done and go on about your way.”
If you don’t own a bike though and need to rent one, or own one and only want to do the downhill portion, bikers will have to catch a shuttle.
Learn more about the bike options available in the video below.
“It’s a 30-minute shuttle ride from (Damascus) here to White Top, and it’s a cool shaded trail most of the way down,” Greer said. “You’re out by the White Top Laurel Creek a lot so it’s a very leisurely pretty, you’re not going to find a prettier bike ride anywhere else in the United States, it’s just that pretty.”
With the trail being in the national forest, visitors are also welcome to camp out for the night. However, make sure you’re prepared for bears as they have been spotted in the area.
There are also multiple informational signs along the trail, Greer explains those more in the video below.
While the trail is bustling with people almost every day, Greer says it didn’t used to be that way.
“It started really in the late 80s, they started turning it into a bike trail, and then it was slow for a while,” Greer said. “But then word got out when the internet came around; now there’s nine bike shops that do what we do, which is basically take people from Damascus to White Top and you ride downhill 17 miles to Damascus through national forest.”
Even though the ride is mostly downhill, with very little pedaling involved, be prepared to be sore after!
Note: There are bikes that offer a comfier ride than a mountain bike. At least, at Creeper Trail Bike Rental and Shuttle there are.
Greer says most of his customers are out-of-towners, but he’d like to change that.
“If it’s close to home you just don’t think about doing it,” Greer said. “Most of our customers aren’t local. So we’d like to get more local people in here to do the Virginia Creeper Trail. It seems like the local people who do come in here come over and over again because it’s a good thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.”
You can find more details on pricing at their website by clicking here.