Smooth, scenic trail with a grade of 5% or less.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is the retired corridor of the Virginia - Carolina Railroad. This 17-mile section of the trail runs from Damascus, VA to Whitetop Station.
The trail is a steady climb the entire way, gaining 1600 feet in elevation. However, the grade is gentle and never exceeds 5%. The trail is smooth, mostly crushed gravel the entire way, and features numerous fantastic mountain views, small waterfalls, and trestle crossings.
Damascus also has several shuttle and bike rental outfits if you want to shuttle up and coast the whole way down, or vice versa.
Need to Know
The Creeper is a popular destination, especially for families, and the path can get pretty crowded in the summer. Despite the minor grade and smooth surface, the full 16-mile climb is probably a bit much for most beginners. Most of the riders take the easy way - shuttle up to Whitetop and just cruise back down.
The trail is open year round, but Damascus gets awfully quiet in the winter, so call ahead to enquire about rentals or shuttles. The trail crosses private property in many areas, so please be respectful to land owners and stay on the trail.
Damascus City Park is a great place to start from. The trail is a gentle but nonstop climb all the way to Whitetop, never exceeding 5% grade.
The trail is wide enough to easily ride side by side. Take a shuttle for a one way trip. It's 17 miles one way or a 34 mile out-and-back - climbing the whole way up (1600ft), coasting the whole way back.
The trail is visually spectacular - it follows the creek for several miles up the gorge through fir forests and rhodo thickets. There are huge stone cliffs, waterfalls, high trestle crossings and mountain views aplenty.
There are vault toilets and parking areas at two stops along the way. The trail crosses private property in several areas, and there are even a few small cafes catering specifically to trail goers along the way.
History & Background
This long distance trail is part of the Jefferson National Forest and is managed by the Mount Rogers
National Recreation Area field office.
The trail was finished in 1920, and was then closed in 1977 due to severe flooding damage along several stretches of the route.