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Virginia Creeper Trail

Arriving in Damascus on a Wednesday, we spent the next few days waiting for the sun to appear, or more precisely, waiting for the rains to stop.  Having visited this area three times in the past 4 years, we were drawn back to experience the Virginia Creeper Trail during the peak leaf changing season.  This primarily down the mountain bike ride starts at Whitetop Mountain and runs into Damascus for 17-miles, and then, if you like, continues for another, mostly level, 17-miles into Abingtdon.  As we arrived in town, beautiful golden, deep orange and crimson leaves covered the mountain side.  Bikers were out in full force, in spite of the wet weather, and were returning to  Damascus, soaked and covered with mud.  Most were in jovial moods, and considered it an adventure on the trail.

Making apple butter
Camping at Beartree Campground in the Jefferson National Forest, we were 8 zigzagging miles or 20 minutes outside of town.  Inclement weather had left the campground nearly deserted, and we lucked into one of the limited sites with water and electric.   On Sunday, we took advantage of a short reprieve from the rain to drive up to the community of Whitetop for their annual Molasses Festival.  This fundraiser for the Mount Rogers Volunteer Fire Department had a good turnout.  Molasses and apple butter were both being made and sold on the grounds, a variety of local bands provided the entertainment (all bluegrass), and vendors sold crafts, honey, jams, and maple syrup leftover from the town's Whitetop Mountain Maple Syrup Festival in the spring.  Barbecue chicken, green beans and cole slaw was being sold as a secondary fundraiser. While visitors feasted on the chicken, a dozen or so fellow guests provided additional entertainment by clogging to the lively music.  Dancers ranged from 10-80 plus years old, and never seemed to tire!

At Green Cove Station, along the trail
Monday, we awoke to sunny, clear blue skies.  Along with 8 other bikers, we and our bikes were taken to the top of the trail by one of the many companies in town that provides the drop off or pick up service (for the riders going up the mountain).  Temperatures were in the mid-60's, and the day was about as close to perfection as you can get!  There aren't enough superlatives to describe what a glorious ride we experienced.  (I don't think I've ever used the word glorious before, but the gorgeous trees, perfect sky and lovely temperature could not have been better.)  Taking about 4 hours to complete the trail, we took numerous stops along the way so we could maximize the day.

Having completed the ride, it is now time to drive south into North Carolina.  

At Beartree Campground


Pumpkin patch along the trail




Entertainment at the Molasses Festival



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