Several years ago, I was looking for a new vacation destination. I wanted something that involved activity, specifically hiking or biking, and someplace reasonably close. What I found was the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail. This multipurpose trail runs from Whitetop Station on the Virginia/North Carolina border, through Damascus, VA, and on to Abingdon, VA. It’s less than a five hour drive from my home.
I made reservations at a bed and breakfast in Damascus, also known as Trail Town USA. Along with the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Appalachian Trail goes right through the heart of town. During hiking season, the town is a haven for many foot weary hikers. I figured that after biking, it would also be a haven for this butt weary woman.
It was a beautiful October morning when we were shuttled with our rented bikes up the mountain to Whitetop Station, where our ride began. Near the top of the second highest peak in Virginia, I was happy we had hats, warm fleece coats, and gloves. I was also happy that most of the trail was a gentle downhill ride, or flat, with easy pedaling. The fall leaves were gorgeous and we road slowly until the rest of the group had left us behind. It was so peaceful! There were bridges to cross, creeks to sit beside, bumps to bounce over, and spectacular scenery from the overlooks. At lunchtime, we stopped at the Creeper Cafe, just off the trail, and ate meatloaf sandwiches and their “world famous” chocolate cake. Good stuff, that! Sadly, I’ve heard that the Creeper Cafe is now closed.
On our last night at the B & B, we drove to Abingdon to see My Fair Lady at the Barter Theater. It was great! When the theater first opened in 1933, they charged forty cents to see a play. If you didn’t have the money, you were encouraged to pay with dairy products or produce.
There are so many things to do near Damascus! We stopped at Grayson Highlands State Park to see the wild ponies. The park also provides access to the Appalachian Trail. We followed part of the Crooked Road; Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. The Carter Family Fold is along this route as well as many other music venues and shops selling hand crafted items. Zaloo’s Canoes is pretty close and, in the past, we have rented canoes for a float on the New River.
We ate at Shatley Springs, a restaurant that we’ve been going to since our first motorcycle trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, 40 years ago. There is always a wait for a table but there are rocking chairs and live music to help pass the time. The restaurant serves a family style meal straight from an Appalachian kitchen, including fried chicken, salty country ham, pinto beans, boiled cabbage, creamed corn, biscuits with strawberry jam….the list goes on until the final dish is brought to the table, the cobbler and ice cream. I’m always too full to enjoy dessert and, while it’s just a few steps beyond normal, I’ve learned to ask for it to be served as an appetizer.