- (Photo: Slavic Gospel Association)
The Virginia Creeper Trail has officially been opened, welcoming bikers and hikers in the nearby area to stop by and give the trails a try.
The creeper trail was originally a railroad trail in Abingdon, Va. that was built in the late 1880s. The tracks were not opened until the 1900s due to the financial difficulties of previous owners. The last steam engine left the tracks in 1957, replaced by new, diesel-powered engines. By 1974, petitions were placed to abandon the line altogether. In 1977 hard rains solidified that decision, damaging most of the existing track and track removal began.
Now, at being abandoned for more than 25 years, the former train tracks have been repurposed into a hiking and biking trail. Work on the trails began in July. Travelling from Damascus all the way to the North Carolina border near Whitetop, Va., the new trails offer a number of options for those who wish to go for a ride.
Bike rentals are available on the track and while riders have the option of riding the full track for a round trip, a shuttle is also available that takers riders and their bikes up the trails, allowing them to just ride back. The trail is not the first of its kind in Damascus where Appalachian Trail and the Iron Mountain Trail already exist, but does offer promising scenic routes according to those who have attempted to make the ride. Nearby trails also include the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, and the Crooked Road musical heritage trail.
The trail it its new form became a possibility after the towns of Abingdon and Damascus partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to secure the abandoned railroad right-of-way. It was later on that a local woman had the idea to include shuttles that would allow riders to take trail on going just one way.