6 -2020

~ 17.1 miles

~ 2112 ft
*all downhill

White Top to Damacus, TN

The Virginia Creeper trail has become one of my favorite “can’t miss” yearly activities that we do. We have always gone in the summer, but I have had friends go year round and their pictures are beautiful. For clarity, when we do the Creeper Trail, we always take the route from White Top Mountain to Damascus Virginia. There are multiple different routes you can take, but this one is a gentle downhill glide the whole way and great for small kids. Don’t let the high number of miles scare you. There is one brief spot at the beginning where you pedal slightly up a small hill and the rest you could almost coast down. Both our second and third sons were 5 years old when they completed the trail on their own bikes. Kids have to pedal a little more because their bikes are so small, but because of the downhill glide they did great. We did bring this bike trailer each of those times in case they didn’t make it the whole way, but we ended up just using it to store our lunch. We have gotten so much use out of that bike trailer. It allowed us to go on so many adventures that we otherwise wouldn’t have gone on when the boys were too small to ride the whole way.

Our second son at 5 years old ⬆️
Our third son at 5 years old⬆️

They both were riding the same bike from a company called, “Little Big Bikes.” It is a bike that converts from a balance bike to a pedal bike. This was a great first bike for both of them. My husband chose this bike for them because it converts and also has hand brakes without coaster brakes (pedal brakes).

In order to begin at White Top Station, you could either park a car at both the start and end (each one would have to have a bike rack), or you could use a shuttle. We have always gone with the shuttle option to make life easier for us. We have our own bikes, but there are multiple bike rental locations in Damascus, VA that provide shuttle services as well. Every time we go we use the Shuttle Shack. (Check their website for updated pricing and schedules.) We had a great experience with them the first time so we never used anyone else, even though I’m sure there are some other good ones. The shuttle shack will load all of your bikes onto their rack when you get there and unload them for you at White Top Station. You will ride up on a bus with other people if your family doesn’t fill it up. The first time we went, my youngest was 3 and they were able to put his car seat in the shuttle. They are always very helpful and knowledgeable about the area.

At the beginning of the trail, there are bathroom facilities. This year all the bathrooms on the trail were closed due to Covid. As I said above, there is a slight upward incline at the very beginning, (barely noticeable unless you have a 5 year old that makes sure you know about it). After that, it’s smooth sailing down to Damascus.

The trail is very well marked and kept up as it is popular and highly trafficked. Like most trails, you will see significantly fewer people if you go during the week. With really small kids, a weekday is better because there is less worry about them veering in front of a quick passing biker. There are certain rules on the trail regarding passing etiquette, etc. that are posted at the beginning. We found that the kids picked up on this fairly easy- with some reminders along the way of course. We also found other bikers to be very friendly and aware while passing kids.

On a side note, we have seen quite a few bikers stopped along the way having to repair their bikes. We are so thankful that we have not needed to do this so far, (knocks on all the wood)! We now keep a bike tool repair kit with us just in case. We haven’t had to use it yet but I try to be as prepared as I can. Having to walk our bikes 17 miles sounds miserable.

We use Camelback Mules for the boys so we don’t have to stop as much for water breaks. These are really handy to have for biking because they can use them hands free. They usually drink and drink though, so we may just be changing out water stops for potty breaks!

There are so many gorgeous bridges and mountain views. The whole trail is breathtaking. Coasting through on a breezy day is my definition of complete relaxation.

The Creeper Trail follows along Beaver Dam Creek which has multiple spots that are perfect for taking a dip in the water or stopping to have lunch.

Parts of the Appalachian Trail also cross the Creeper Trails so you will come across hikers along the way. A little past half way, you can stop and have lunch at the Creeper Trail Cafe or have a slice of their “world famous” chocolate cake. We tried it- it is quite delicious!

Then it is smooth sailing until you reach the end. The trail continues through the town of Damascus toward Abingdon, VA. You will want to get off and return to the Shuttle Shack on Douglas Drive if that’s the shuttle place you used. Damascus is full of adorable shops and local restaurants. It’s a fun little town to explore if you have time. We went camping at a spot just outside Damascus along this same beautiful creek, you can read more about that here!

If you are a beginner at biking or want a good family trail for kids of all ages, this is a perfect choice. We come back here year after year and love to support the local businesses. Writing this post is making me want to go back a.s.a.p.!

Find out more about the Virginia Creeper rail at the link below…