I had the opportunity to bicycle down the Virginia Creeper Trail over the weekend. The weather was beautiful, the forsythia were in full bloom, and the chocolate cake was rich and delicious!! You start at White Top and make your way down the mountain. The ride is a total of 17 miles to Damascus, although the trail continues on after that for 17 miles. There are many bridges along the way, with amazing views, and in many spots along the trail you’ll go through tunnels of trees that are arched over the trails. We stopped in Damascus. From White Top to Damascus, you lose 1,699 feet in elevation. So while one could say this is all downhill, it’s still very gradual; and not by any means what you would call steep. You can even get a workout in if you bump up your resistance a bit and raise your rpms.
We stopped at Green Cove for a lovely picnic lunch. Most of us brought sandwiches, chips, fruit, yogurt; you know, typical picnic lunch food. Not my sister. She has apparently been on a seafood kick lately and she brought pickled herring with mustard sauce in a can. She ate it on baguette rolls with olives. Eck!! I fancy myself as being quite open minded when it comes to food, but on this I cannot budge. What can I say? Stinky pickled fish just isn’t my bag. But luckily I was able to immortalize her strong smelling lunch on camera. Keep in mind that the pictures just don’t do the smell of canned fish justice! This in my opinion, would be an example of what NOT to eat while ascending down the beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail. But my sister would not agree. We continued on down the trail, making stops here and there for pretty scenery. We came across two people who got flat tires. Word of advice: if you plan on doing the Creeper Trail, pack a tire patch kit as there are rocks on the trail. My sister, luckily came fully armed with not only pickled herring but also a bike pump so we were able to help one of the two people in need along the way.
At about 11.5 miles down the trail, you will come across the Creeper Trail Cafe at Taylor’s Valley. It is here, at the Creeper Trail Cafe, where they have the world famous chocolate cake. Their 3 layer chocolate cake has been written up in Southern Living magazine, and I gotta tell ya, folks, it is delicious!! Plus, it’s guilt free because you have been riding bikes all day, and still have 5.5 miles to Damascus! I assure you, even after eating moist, spongy, rich chocolate cake and their buttery vanilla ice cream I did not get stomach cramps on the bike. Who knew chocolate cake and biking went so well together!! You should do the Virginia Creeper Trail for the chocolate cake alone if not for any other reason! After the Creeper Trail Cafe, you have 5.5 easy miles til you get to Damascus. The last few miles before Damascus are pretty flat. This is where you could up your speed and resistance if you wanted to burn off the cake.
After returning our rentals in Damascus, we headed to Abingdon, VA for some sight seeing, and then dinner to follow. Abingdon’s downtown is picturesque, with lots of Victorian houses turned into cafes and shops. Abingdon is known for being home of the Barter Theater and the Martha Washington Inn. If you happen to make it there, I recommend you stop in and have a look around at the Martha Washington Inn. It is a four star hotel built in the 1800’s. It is supposed to be haunted!! We looked for ghosts but didn’t see any. After doing a little sight seeing we stopped in for dinner at Pop Ellis Soda Shoppe and Grille. This cute little restaurant is located right on Main Street and has a nice little outdoor eating area, as well as indoor dining too. Along with soda’s, shakes, banana splits, and sundae’s, this restaurant features a very versatile menu which includes a Norwegian Salmon Appetizer and a Blue-Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Burger. Barack Obama himself ate there in 2008 during his campaign. You can read about his experience there while waiting in line for the bathroom. The newspaper article is posted on the wall. Other than having a very un enthusiastic girl greet us at the door (she seemed to be put out that she had to clean off a table), we experienced excellent food and excellent service (the girl that greeted us was not our server). We all split the norwegian salmon appetizer. This consisted of delicous smoked salmon, diced onions, capers, and horseradish sauce served with slices of italian buttered bread. Delish! We were all very happy with our meals.
After dinner it was time to head back down I-81 for our trek home after a wonderful day. So if you like bicycling and chocolate cake, I urge you all to go to the Virginia Creeper Trail. You will be very glad you did. If you have time, drive ten minutes down the road and check out Abingdon. It’s a beautiful little city.