June 14, 2010
Loved the Creeper! The total trail distance one-way from Whitetop through Damascus to Abingdon is 34+ miles - as stated, the WhiteTop to Damascus leg is about half...17mi.
If you're looking for some serious TECHNICAL mountain biking...this ain't it! But, if you want to enjoy a LONG effortless downhill peppered with awesome views of the surrounding mountains, peaceful riverside riding, amazing bridge crossings(some over 100-150ft over ravines, historical points of interest, rider friendly restaurants every several miles, and intermittent restrooms trailside - you'll find a little slice of heaven here!!
The trail surface is hard-packed and mostly lined with a finely crushed gravel which does a great job at preventing erosion and keeping the ruts out - it actually added to ride control and the overall experience, given it's consistency. There were some little berms and waterbreaks that we caught air on throughout the first 10mi or so. You can easily maintain a 15-20mph clip for long stretches of 30+ min of riding, that is if you can keep from stopping to enjoy the view.
I was even tempted to stop and just dive right in the river at a couple points.
There are safe, designated parking lots along the Creeper and shuttles from both Damascus and Abingdon to return you to the Whitetop Mountain lot for a reasonable fee(@$13/leg).
There is also a campground at Whitetop within a half-mile ride from the start of the trail. We patronized an excellent bike shop/shuttle right off the trail in Damascus called "JC's" and I'd highly recommend eating at the "WhistlePig" restaurant right next door.
This trail makes for a perfect weekend excursion for either getting some "road" distance on your mountain bike, having a quiet enjoyable weekend with your significant other(even one who may not bike much!), this trail is also great for the whole family or group outing - our group totalled about 40 camping/riding and it was a blast!!
I'd suggest bringing a CamelBak with some extra capacity or a daypack, that way you can manage to bring a towel, some swim gear in case you partake in the river, camera is a must, sunglasses, SPF lotion, and a poncho or rain jacket(as you may get a pop-up shower given the riding distance in the summer). You can also use the extra capacity to buy 'Creeper' shirts and other tasteful, not touristy stuff along the way.
* Review edited 6/14/2010
North Bend State Park Rail Trail (West Virginia)