A few years back, when some friends invited us to join them on a bike ride on The Virginia Creeper Trail, I was, you could say, a little apprehensive. Why the concern though? I grew up riding bikes – I practically lived on a bike when I was younger.

I remember my most favorite bike. It was purple (’cause Donny Osmond’s favorite color was purple) and it had a cool headlight, which didn’t last long because right after I got it I crashed into our garage door… but who needs a bike headlight when they’re 8?

family bike trails

Anyway, I digress…

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a trail that runs along an old train bed in the western mountains of Virginia, near the TN and NC borders. There are many trails like this throughout the U.S.

“We can take our time and do half in a day,” said my beloved friend.

“It takes a day to do half? How long is it?” I inquired.

“About 17 miles,” she said.

“Seven?” I queried.

“No, seventeen,” she clarified.

Seven-freakin’-teen.  Okay …

“So we’ll do half of that – about 8 and a half?” I replied.

“No, seventeen is half–the whole run is 34 miles. The other half is more strenuous. We’ll do the easy part, and like I said take our time. And we can stop for chocolate cake,” she convincingly retorted.

“Chocolate cake?” I drooled.

(aren’t you just loving this dialogue, story telling style about now?)

“Yeah, chocolate cake, hamburgers, fries. It’s easy. It’ll be fun,” she closed the deal.

Bike. Eat cake. Bike. I can do that, I thought.

family travel virginia creeper bike  trail

A few weeks later we headed out for The Virginia Creeper Trail to Damascus, VA. We met up with our friends at a local outfitter to rent bikes and gear, and to get us and our bikes “shuttled” to the top of the trail, in Whitetop, VA where they dropped us off for our ride toward chocolate cake. (Whew, that was a mouth full.)

family fun on the virginia creeper trail

This particular trail, as before mentioned, is 34 miles long. You can start at either end or in the middle. We chose, again, as before mentioned, the easiest route: Whitetop down to Damascus. And, I’ll have to say, it was easy. And fun. The trail “creeps” (thus the name) down the mountain along the Whitetop Laurel Creek.

Of course, I thought we’d never make it to my own personal destination, now formally named “Chocolate Cake,” because we stopped almost every 1/4 mile to play in the creek and explore. You’ll even find a playground, restrooms and snack places on the route.

virginia creeper trailbiking the virginia creeper trail

Chocolate Cake is about mile 10 at The Creeper Trail Cafe, I think. The chocolate cake I speak of is in this building below here … the cake didn’t last long enough to get a picture.

virginia creeper bike  trail

The ride is mostly shady and scenery abounds.

red barns on virginia creeper trail

And believe me, if I can do it with my big hiney, you can. Just be sure to ask for a “big hiney” seat – seventeen miles is a long way for the bottom if you’re not used to cycling. The local outfitters rent all kinds of bikes for all ages as well as other gear. Of course you can take your own bikes if you’d like and just pay for the transport.

rails to trails virginia creeper

So if you’re looking for a last minute, end of summer quickie jaunt or are already planning a fall get-away check it out. You’ll love it. Your kids will love it. Your hiney? I don’t know …

We’re blessed to have The Virginia Creeper Trail close by, but there are many other fantastic bike trails nationwide that were formerly train beds and have been converted to trails for biking, hiking and even rollerblading. You can read more about these and about the Rails to Trails program at www.railstotrails.org where you’ll also find national maps and other information.

For biking The Virginia Creeper Trail, we’ve used both of the following outfitters for bike rentals and transportation to the drop-off site:

Adventure Damascus

The Bike Station

For more detailed information about The Virginia Creeper Trail visit:

The Virginia Creeper Trail : Your Official Guide

Virginia Creeper Trail Information

Have fun and remember to save room for the chocolate cake!