… and Why You Should Stay at Damascus Old Mill
If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure, look no further than the Virginia Creeper Trail. This 34-mile-long trail offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and winds through the charming small town of Damascus. Most bike riders ride half of the Virginia Creeper Trail from Whitetop to Damascus and believe it or not, that section is TOTALLY DOWNHILL. There are over 10 bike rental companies that will rent you a bike and take you via van from Damascus to Whitetop so you can enjoy the 17 ½ mile downhill ride on the Creeper Trail on your own.
One of the best places to stay during your visit is the historic Damascus Old Mill, where you can also indulge in a delicious lunch before hitting the trail or a casual dining experience after your ride.
The Virginia Creeper Trail – The History of the Trail
The Virginia Creeper Trail has a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. Originally, the trail was a railroad that was used to transport timber from the Appalachian Mountains to the town of Abingdon, Virginia. The railroad was called the Virginia-Carolina Railroad and was later renamed the Virginia-Carolina Railway.
The Virginia Creeper nickname comes from the steam locomotives that were used to transport the timber. The trains moved slowly up the steep inclines, releasing steam and smoke that resembled a creeping mist. The nickname stuck, and today the multi-purpose trail is known as the Virginia Creeper Trail.
In the 1970s, the railroad was abandoned, and the tracks were removed. The trail was later converted into a recreational trail and officially opened in 1987. Today, the trail is a popular regional destination for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. It runs through some of the most scenic parts of Virginia, including the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and the Cherokee National Forest.
Along the trail, you can still see remnants of the railroad’s history, including trestles, bridges, and old railroad beds. The trail is also surrounded by historic towns, such as Abingdon and Damascus, which offer a glimpse into the region’s past.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is now managed by the National Forest Service and is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers who work to preserve the trail’s history and natural beauty. When you travel down the Creeper from Whitetop to Damascus you will actually travel on eight miles of the famous Appalachian Trail. This allows you to say “I biked part of the AT!”
Virginia Creeper Trail: A Journey Through Nature’s Beauty
The Virginia Creeper Trail is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. The trail runs through some of the most scenic parts of Virginia, including the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and the Cherokee National Forest. Here are some of the natural highlights you can expect to see along the trail:
- Forests: The trail winds through lush forests of hardwoods and evergreens. You’ll see a variety of tree species, including oak, hickory, maple, and pine.
- Rivers and streams: The trail has 47 renovated railroad bicycle-friendly trestles that cross back and forth over several rivers and streams, including the Whitetop Laurel Creek and the South Fork of the Holston River. These waterways are home to a variety of fish, including trout and smallmouth bass.
- Wildflowers: The trail is also home to a wide variety of wildflowers, including rhododendron, mountain laurel, and trillium. These colorful blooms add to the trail’s natural beauty.
- Wildlife: The Virginia Creeper Trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, and squirrels. You may also see birds such as red-tailed hawks, wild turkeys, and bald eagles.
- Views: Along the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains and the surrounding countryside. These scenic vistas are perfect for photo opportunities and taking in the natural beauty of the region.
Overall, the Virginia Creeper Trail is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its diverse flora and fauna, stunning views, and rich history make it a unique and memorable experience for all who visit.
Virginia Creeper Trail is a nature lover’s paradise. The trail is surrounded by lush greenery, colorful wildflowers, and a diverse range of wildlife. You can experience the beauty of the trail at any time of year, but fall is particularly stunning when the leaves change colors.
Exploring Damascus Old Mill: A Stay You Won’t Forget
Staying at the Damascus Old Mill is a great way to enhance your Virginia Creeper Trail experience. This historic hotel is located in the heart of Damascus, just a short walk from the trailhead, making it an ideal place to stay for those looking to explore the area. Here are some reasons why you should consider staying at the Damascus Old Mill:
- History: The Damascus Old Mill is a historic landmark that dates back to the 19th century. The building was once a working grist mill, and many of the original features have been preserved, including the exposed brick walls and wooden beams.
- Location: The hotel is located just steps away from the Virginia Creeper Trail, making it an ideal base for exploring the area. You can easily access the trail and enjoy a day of biking, hiking, or horseback riding.
- Amenities Including Bourbon Bar: The Damascus Old Mill offers a range of amenities to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The hotel has a restaurant and bar on-site, serving delicious Southern cuisine and local craft beers. Also don’t forget the Old Mill has a well-stocked Bourbon Bar with many difficult-to-find top-shelf bourbons. In 2022, they were able to obtain Pappy Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-year bourbon as well as selections of Blantons, Bookers, Eagle Rare, and Buffalo Trace to name a few.
- Comfortable rooms: The hotel offers a range of comfortable and stylishly appointed rooms, each with its own unique charm. Rooms come with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and plush bedding.
- Friendly staff: The staff at the Damascus Old Mill are known for their friendly and welcoming hospitality. They are always on hand to offer advice and recommendations on the best things to see and do in the area. They can also help make your reservations at the Barter Theater.
Overall, staying at the Damascus Old Mill is a great way to experience the history and natural beauty of the Virginia Creeper Trail. The hotel’s convenient location, comfortable rooms, and friendly staff make it a great choice for anyone looking to explore this stunning region of Southwest Virginia.
Q: How long is the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: The Virginia Creeper Trail is 34 miles long, stretching from Abingdon, Virginia to Whitetop Station near the North Carolina border but most take a van ride to Whitetop Station and travel the 17 ½ miles (all downhill) back to the Town of Damascus.
Q: How long does it take to ride a bicycle down the Creeper to Damascus?
A: Well, that depends. How many times will you want to stop and take beautiful photos of small waterfalls, trout streams, wildlife, and beautiful vistas or do you plan to pack a fly rod and do some trout fishing? It is recommended to plan a minimum of 3 to 4 hours to experience this 17 ½ mile section of the Creeper.
Q: What activities can I do on the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: The trail is open to a variety of outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing.
Q: Is the Virginia Creeper Trail open year-round?
A: The trail is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring, summer, and fall when the weather is mild and the foliage is at its peak.
Q: Do I need a permit to use the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: No, you do not need a permit to use the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Q: Is the Virginia Creeper Trail suitable for families with children?
A: Yes, the trail is suitable for families with children of all ages. The Whitetop to Damascus section of the trail is all downhill and easy to navigate, and there are plenty of rest stops and scenic viewpoints along the way.
Q: Are pets allowed on the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: Yes, pets are allowed on the trail, but they must be on a leash at all times.
Q: Are there facilities along the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: Yes, there are restrooms, picnic areas, and water fountains located along the trail. There are also several small towns along the trail where you can find snack bars and small shops.
Q: Can I camp along the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: Camping is not allowed on the trail itself, but there are several campgrounds located near the trail.
Q: Do I need to bring my own bike to ride the Virginia Creeper Trail?
A: No, there are over ten bike rental shops located in Damascus, near the trail where you can rent bikes for the full or half day. Most of the bicycle shops also offer shuttle services to transport you and your bike to the Whitetop trailhead.
Q: Is the Virginia Creeper Trail accessible to people with disabilities?
A: There are sections of the trail that are accessible to people with disabilities. However, some parts of the trail can be challenging for people with mobility issues, so it’s best to check with the National Forest Service for specific information on accessibility.
Virginia Creeper Trail is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a scenic adventure in Southwestern Virginia. Staying at the boutique inn, Damascus Old Mill, and the adjacent 200-foot wide Mocks Mill Falls, adds a charming and historical touch to your visit. Be sure to stop by the restaurant for lunch and fuel up for your adventure. Don’t forget to take your camera and capture the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains!