Virginia Creeper Trail
Abingdon, VA to Whitetop, VA.
34 Miles (68 Miles Round Trip).
Involves an 1800 foot climb over 25 miles.
Average Grade of the climb: 1.4 Percent (Easy Climb)
Worst Grade: About 3 Percent.
Number of intersections: About 24.
Number of people passing me on the trail: 890.
Pros: Spectacular views - from dense forest areas running along a mountain stream to open farmlands with views of the mountains. Take a bicycle shuttle to the Whitetop trailhead and you can coast downhill for about 25 mile without pedaling while hitting speeds of 20 mph or more. This makes it a very popular trail thanks to many bike shuttle businesses. Trail is firm enough that even narrow tire bicycles can do the ride. No loose sand or gravel. Considering the length of the trail and terrain it goes through, the trail is well maintained. No litter was seen which considering the number of people using it, is remarkable. No root bumps.
Cons: Mostly unpaved trail (hard pack dirt and limestone) along with some rocks that will jar your bones if you run them over and you will hit some of them. There are a few significant drop offs at the edge of the trail. (Think very steep hills you will not be able to climb back up if you screw up). You have to stop for 7 cattle guard gates that have to be opened and shut along the trail. Trail is popular with people of all ages and skill levels, many kids, and some of them like to ride on the wrong side of the trail. Some were even seen riding with one hand while looking at their Cell Phone in the other hand - Yikes! Avoid going uphill (Abingdon to Whitetop) on the weekends as 95 percent of the bicycle traffic is going downhill, fast. The downhill traffic comes in waves of 20-30 bicycles at a time, some trying to pass slower riders which creates dangerous situations on the narrow unpaved trail. With so much bicycle traffic, don't expect to see much wildlife.
Hindsight: You can see so much more riding along at 8 mph going uphill than you can braking and still going 20 mph downhill having to concentrate on avoiding rocks. Only thing I'd do differently next time is do the ride on a weekday.
Ratings: (1-5 scale, 5 being best)
Trail: 3 (Jarred me quite a bit in the mountains)
Critters: 1 (Don't remember seeing wildlife)
Scenery: 5 (Wide Variety of Scenery)