Thursday, September 05, 2013

Virginia Creeper Trail

Carole and I decided to ride the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail again. In the past when we've had the opportunity to ride it we had passed. That's because the first time we biked it we rode it with Roy and Cindi Aiken and their kids, James and Emily. We had such a good time that day that the idea of going without them kind of made us depressed. So we didn't go when we had the opportunity a couple of times.

On this trip, however, we decided to ride it once more. It was fun, but not as much as the first ride with the Aikens. We made the 17-mile trip in three hours. It can easily be done in one hour if you don't stop and linger. The first time we rode it I think we took about five hours to do the ride. Because there was live music at one spot on the trail and we stopped a lot more to take photos and just absorb the beautiful scenery.

One thing about this stretch of the trail is that it's almost all downhill. And the brief parts that aren't downhill are level. If you start at the Whitetop Station and ride all the way into Damascus, you lost almost 1800 feet of elevation. That first section between Whitetop Station and Green Cove Station is pure adrenaline fun. Just coasting you can reach really wonderful speed. Even lard asses and people in just general bad physical shape and do this trail with absolutely no problem.

The Green Cove Station. My favorite of the train stations along the trail. This was the only one that was an actual station. It was in operation until 1977 when it was finally closed. It had a store and a post office.

Inside the store section which is mainly a museum now. Operated by volunteers.

One of several abandoned homes along the trail.

This place was for sale. Located directly on the rail trail. It comes with 23 acres and a barn and creek frontage. Only $350K.

A store along the trail. There's a footbridge allowing access from the trail. We stopped here for a while when we rode the trail with the Aikens because they had live bluegrass music that day.

Looking down from one of the high trestles.

Nice waterfall on the trail.

The bridges and the constant water cement the appeal of the trail.

One of the many views.

The trail goes through this guy's farm. What a panorama!

This is where we stopped for lunch. Creekside.

The Buchanan Inn at Green Cove Station. This is where the people who ran the Green Cove Station lived. It's now a vacation rental.

A Black ratsnake on the highest of the trestles on the trail. There were three of them using the side of the bridge to sun themselves.


Kent Tankersley said...

That looks like a really cool trail for biking, well worth a ride. I've never heard of it before. Once back in the 70s, Terrell and I hiked from Damascus toward Whitetop Mountain (I think) and at some point the AT went through a RR cut. I imagine that's the same rail line that the bike trail follows.

James Robert Smith said...

Yeah, you probably hiked part of it. At a couple of spots it shares the same route as the Appalachian Trail. The Virginia Creeper is the AT for a stretch walking into and through Damascus (aka "the Friendliest Town on the AT). When the rail trail was first approved the local right wing assholes went ballistic. They even burned down the tallest train trestle which then had to be rebuilt to accommodate the trail (thus delaying the official opening of the rail trail). These were 1980s version of Tea Party idiots. Now the town makes vast sums of money from tourism all due to the Virginia Creeper Trail. It is considered to be THE single most beautiful rail trail in the country. Parts of it are on National Forest property, but some sections go through private property (such as the farm pictured). But the rail right of way was transferred from the railroad company to the National Forest Service. There are signs around private property areas asking you to respect private property, and everyone does.

Kent Tankersley said...

Very cool. I don't get the opposition to turning disused rail lines into bike trails (I think the issue came up in Ellijay a few years ago). Maybe it's part of what I've come to think of as a dislike among the right of cycling / cyclists in general. I don't get that either.

James Robert Smith said...

The USA is a right wing shitheap because we, more than any other western nation, are ruled over by corporations who want the general population to be stupid, ignorant, gun-humping, church-going, racist assholes. And they've pretty much got that going on.

Anytime something good and decent is proposed, the corporate right has only to push a few buttons to get their hate-mongering ignorant base agitated and motivated.