My first hike at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial Conference in Southwest Virginia.
The hike was advertised as a loop hike on the A.T. and the Virginia Creeper Trail. Virginia Creeper, that’s all I had to hear. I signed up for an 11 mile hike which turned out to be over 13 miles.
But that was OK. The leaders, Gary and Laurie, were great and there was only one other hiker, Shirley. The four of us really moved.
We started from the Bear Tree Lake parking area in the Jefferson National Forest and quickly got on the A.T.
The trail was in the woods and frankly, I was looking forward to the Virginia Creeper. I had heard so much of this trail (33.4 miles) as a famous bicycle trail but it’s really multi-use – hiking, biking and horses.
We reached the Creeper trail about 11:30 at The Creeper Cafe, with all the amenities including air-conditioning. We ate an early lunch and got some great ice cream. Then we got on the VA Creeper proper. By then, hordes of bikers were coming the other way. We were going up but it was a very gentle up.
This was the site of a logging railroad opened before 1900 from Abington to Damascus. It was then extended to the Virginia/North Carolina border. The last train ran in 1977. It has lots of trestles and bridges and had a serious wash-out in the tornado that they had in April.
The path follows Laurel Creek and passes the waterfall at the top. Our hike took us back to the A.T. and to Bear Tree Trail to close the loop. For me the highlight was definitely the Creeper Trail. A great hike.