The Virginia Creeper Trail Region, which covers the small picturesque communities of Damascus, Abingdon, Whitetop, Konnarock, Green Cove, Taylors Valley, and Alvarado, has many wonderful attractions to offer and has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the East. The area, settled over 200 years ago by very adventurous folks, is still the perfect playground for anyone with an adventurous spirit.
The oldest town in Virginia West of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Abingdon has served as the Washington County seat since 1778. The first post office in Southwest Virginia was established in Abingdon in 1793. This historic town is alive with music, art, drama, and crafts. Abingdon is well-known for the Barter Theater and the Martha Washington Inn. The town is full of antique and craft shops, bookstores and fine restaurants that offer a wealth of cultural experiences to the community. The best way to see Abingdon is by taking a walk through the historic district. A self-guided walking tour map is available from the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Center at 208 West Main Street. The annual Virginia Highlands Festival, is reknown for its antiques, arts, and crafts displays, performing and literary arts events, and much more.
The actual town of Alvarado is only as big as a small general store, a church and a few cabins on the river. Access to the some of the best fishing in the area and a great river walk on the Creeper is just a stone’s throw from the Alvarado Store. The store is usually open and has good food and drinks for the Creeper Trail riders. There is also a winery on the river that is open for tours and wine tasting. From Abingdon take US-58E and turn right on Osceola Road (SR722). The road winds down to the river bottom, so drive slowly. Osceola Road continues through Alvarado along the river and comes back out on US-58.
Tucked away within the Iron and Holston mountain ranges and largely undiscovered, Damascus has become an ideal source for outdoor recreation and vacation. The town has even been named “The Friendliest Town on the Appalachian Trail.” In May the town holds its annual Appalachian Trail Days Festival with good food, music, and plenty of interesting people. Damascus hosts a friendly environment for everyone, with year round facilities for through hikers trudging off the AT. There are camping and lodging opportunities for a relaxing weekend getaway. From Damascus you can catch a shuttle to nearby Whitetop Station, then bike on the Creeper 17 miles back downhill to Damascus or 33 miles to Abingdon. The caboose was donated to the trail by the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company (now Norfolk Southern Railroad) and is like the ones used by the Virginia-Carolina Railroad.
The quiet community of Taylor’s Valley marks the midway point of the eastern section of the Creeper Trail. Friendly people, great musicians, and wonderful trout fishing set this community apart. The drive into this valley is beautiful, so take your camera and drive slowly. From Damascus, take Highway 91 toward Mountain City, TN. Follow along the Tennessee Laurel Creek, and after crossing the state line, take a left onto Taylor’s Valley Road. Drive straight into Taylor’s Valley community where the Creeper Trail crosses and Green Cove Creek passes through.
The Green Cove Station is the only original remaining depot building along the Virginia Creeper Trail. Privately owned, the depot served as post office, general store, and freight office. The owners, William and Mary Buchanan, maintained the depot with the assistance of their daughters. The station was the focal point for the community communication and storytelling. Today, the US Forest Service operates the depot on a limited basis during the warmer seasons, and the depot still serves as a rest location with soft drinks, snacks and souvenirs for bikers and hikers. The Buchanan home is located to the right of the depot and is operated as a bed & breakfast by the granddaughter of William Buchanan. Located 17 miles east of Damascus on Highway 58, the depot is open daily (in season) from 10-4.
The original Whitetop Station facility was torn down shortly after the rail line was abandoned in 1977. On October 22, 2000, the US Forest Service and the Friends of Whitetop Station dedicated a new building. The new building is slightly wider and longer than the original depot to better serve visitors. The northwest corner of the new building rests on the same spot as the original building. Today, Whitetop Station welcomes visitors to the Virginia Creeper Trail, serves as a starting position for most bikers, and provides a welcome rest for those who ride the trail from Damascus.