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Virginia Creeper Trail - Damascus to Whitetop

Easy/Intermediate
 4.6 (18) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Picturesque cruising in southwest Virginia.


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Map Key

18.2

Miles

29.3

KM

0%

Singletrack

3,617' 1,102 m

High

1,929' 588 m

Low

2,039' 621 m

Up

403' 123 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (1°)

14%

Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Unknown

Family Friendly Doubletrack with an average 5% grade. The trail is smooth but there are a lot of areas with small, sharp rocks that will end your ride abruptly if you are not careful.

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Alex Waterworth with improvements by Brandon Parker

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 18 votes

#1

in Damascus

#673

Overall
  4.6 from 18 votes
5 Star
61%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Damascus

#16

in Virginia

#673

Overall
188 Views Last Month
6,827 Since Nov 18, 2016
Easy/Intermediate

59%
18%
24%
0%
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Photos

Trestle in the sun.
Nov 18, 2016 near Chilhowie, VA
Farms and fields approaching Whitetop.
Nov 18, 2016 near Chilhowie, VA
Cruising down the gorge.
Nov 18, 2016 near Chilhowie, VA
Virginia Creeper Trail in the fall.
Dec 6, 2016 near Chilhowie, VA
Crusing along the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Dec 6, 2016 near Glade S…, VA
Long Trestle on the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Dec 6, 2016 near Chilhowie, VA

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Check-Ins

Mar 7, 2021
Lost Justpastnowhere
Nov 13, 2020
Zane W
Went from Whitetop all the way to Abingdon. 34mi — 4h 15m
Oct 23, 2020
Bryan Farley
2020 GT 2020 Nishiki First ride on new bikes. Shuttle from Abingdon to Whitetopthen road a mile to trailhead and back before riding down. Took time… 22.2mi — 3h 30m
Oct 3, 2020
Bryan Farley
Shuttle to Whitetop from Damascus. 10:00 AM start. Ate at Creeper Trail Restaurant. Approx. 4 hrs taking time. 18.2mi — 4h 00m
Oct 1, 2020
Brandon Parker
38.6mi
Sep 8, 2020
Brandon Parker
14.2mi — 1h 00m
Aug 14, 2020
Ryan Moore
Apr 19, 2020
Sasha Timkovich
Damascus (Marathon gas station) to Whitetop Station parking lot and back down. 34.4mi — 3h 06m