The 35-Mile Virginia Creeper Trail Is a Secret Foodie Paradise
Here are five places to detour when hitting the picturesque Creeper Trail
Running from Abingdon to near the North Carolina border in Damascus, the Virginia Creeper Trail, above a former rail line, curves nearly 35 miles along the Holston River. A popular weekend getaway for DMV residents, it’s named for the train that crept up the mountain during the early 1900s. The 35-year-old path welcomes bikes, pedestrians and even horses, and it can be done in a (long) day or over multiple outings. Some sections are fairly flat, while others have a steeper grade, so it’s appropriate for all skill levels.
Along the way, you can stay at rustic campgrounds or in stylish inns, many of which offer shuttle services to points on the trail. Those in the know have also found wineries, breweries and restaurants along the way, including some right off the path. Add these to your next trip, and be sure to bring your appetite.
The Tavern on Creeper Trail
This Abingdon restaurant is located in an inn dating from 1779, making it one of the oldest restaurants in Virginia. The Tavern has played host to a range of guests over the years, including Kentucky statesman Henry Clay and Louis Philippe I, King of France. The menu highlights dishes from the South and from Europe, including North Carolina’s finest rainbow trout and wienerschnitzel inspired by the owner’s homeland, respectively. Make sure to ask your waiter about the tavern’s spooky sightings.
Wolf Hills Brewing
After a meal at The Tavern, detour to this downtown brewery for a nightcap. Wolf Hills Brewing honors the original name frontiersman Daniel Boone gave the area after encountering the creatures during his travels in the region’s mountains. Don’t miss the chance to see a local band perform at the brewery, ideally with a glass of Creeper Trail Amber Ale in hand.
What better way to break up your ride on Creeper Trail than with a glass of wine? Abingdon Vineyards is located about an hour south of downtown, near Old Alvarado Station, a former train station that now has one of the trail’s bathrooms. Traveling from “Napa to Appalachia,” the winery was opened by a couple of former California engineers in Abingdon in 2018. Sip on a glass of Redhawk, a local favorite red with notes of tart cherry, with a snack of charcuterie. Because of its riverside location, you can also access the winery by kayak or paddleboard.
Mojo’s Trailside Cafe & Coffee House
Follow the switchbacks south for another hour to reach the town of Damascus, which is a good stopping point and also crosses the famed Appalachian Trail. Refuel at Mojo’s Trailside Cafe & Coffee House, which is known for its hearty breakfasts and strong coffee. The breakfast burrito and Cali BLT are two favorites, but if you’re in a hurry, grab the protein-packed Creeper Trail Bar to nosh on during the ride.
The Damascus Brewery on Creeper Trail
After completing the journey on Creeper Trail, treat yourself to a pint at the Damascus Brewery, which has been around since 2013 and is located on the northern end of town. Visitors can try one of the eight rotating taps including the flagship Beaver Rage IPA, named for the brewery’s mascot and made with the finest hops from around the country. It’s also a fun spot to catch a live bluegrass band, as this region in Southwest Virginia is known for its ties to the Crooked Road Music Trail.
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