ABINGDON, Va (WJHL) — The Virginia Creeper Trail was constructed in the late 1800s.
“It was designed to remove timber from this part of the world,” said Wayne Miller, President of the Creeper Trail Conservancy. “And Dave Brillhart, who was a physician here, came up with the idea of converting this to a Rails to Trails project.”
Miller said there are differing opinions about how the trail received its name.
“The Virginia Creeper Trail got its name from the Virginia Creeper Vine that grows along the trail,” he said. “But, I like the version that says the Virginia Creeper was so slow going up those steep mountains that you could get up and walk. So it was named the Virginia Creeper.”
Miller says the Creeper Trail brings hundreds of visitors each week and adds to the local economy by allowing riders to explore the area.
“We have a tremendous number of people that come here, you know, to ride the trail,” he said. “And they also stay in our hotels and restaurants, go to the Barter Theater. We did an economic impact study and it proved to be a real economic engine. For years, you know, the Barter Theater was kind of the primary asset that we have. And these days, the Virginia Creeper Trail was just as important and also important for people’s health.”
Miller says the former track-turned-trail has come full circle.
“This trail was built to remove timber and basically to take wealth out of this particular area, and now it is being used to bring tourism dollars back into the community,” Miller said. “So the road is running both ways again, we might say.”