Visitors who come to this picturesque Blue Ridge Mountain town are typically looking for some serious play time. Whether the play is on stage at Barter Theatre, the state theatre of Virginia; or in the great outdoor playground of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s always play time somewhere in town.
For those whose idea of play time includes shopping. nightlife, or live music – fun is always on tap. Main Street and the historic downtown district are filled with farm-to-table restaurants and unique shops and galleries. A craft beer brewery and winery are nearby.
Starting in downtown Abingdon, the Virginia Creeper Trail owes its unusual name to the way locals referred to the old steam engines laboring up mountain grades with heavy loads of lumber and iron ore. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a delightful way to spend a day in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Recently inducted in to the Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame, this 34-mile scenic trail is filled with charm, scenery and a few surprises.
The multi-purpose trail runs along a railroad right-of-way that dates back to the 1880s. Today, it is widely considered one of the finest rails-to-trails examples in the east. The trail is used by walkers, runners, horseback riders, and bikers. In Abingdon, the western terminus of the trail, access couldn’t be any more simple. It’s hard to miss the restored locomotive on display at the trailhead on Green Spring Road right in the middle of town.
The trail has very gentle uphill and downhill grades between Abingdon and its unofficial midpoint of Damascus. After that, it climbs nearly 2,000 feet to the eastern terminus on Whitetop Mountain. Needless to say most riders prefer to start on Whitetop and cruise down. In fact, bike rental shops will shuttle riders to the top for a modest fee. The easy downhill ride and awesome views of the Mount Rogers area make the Virginia Creeper Trail a family favorite.
Biking or hiking the Creeper Trail is just one of many ways to play outdoors in the Abingdon area. Abingdon was recently named an official Appalachian Trail Community for its commitment to preserving America’s favorite hiking trail and welcoming through-hikers with typical southern hospitality. The Appalachian Trail through the nearby Mount Rogers National Recreation Area offers some of the most unique terrain in Virginia with wild ponies grazing on the grassy bald knobs and views that extend all the way into North Carolina.
The rivers, lakes, and streams around Abingdon offer endless opportunities for serious outdoor enthusiasts. The clear, cool waters are a favorite for anglers hoping to hook trout, bass, or walleye. Whitetop Laurel Creek runs parallel to the Creeper Trail, offering some of the best fly fishing in the state.
Abingdon offers culinary adventures as well, with a food scene that is rooted in Appalachian traditions. Mountain trout, stone ground grits, heirloom apples, and pastured pork products are all on the menu at Abingdon’s restaurants. At the bi-weekly Abingdon farmers’ market, you’ll also find foraged products like the intensely garlicky ramps, morel mushrooms, or sweet paw paws.
After you’ve played your heart out in the great outdoors, relax with a, relax with a craft brew at Wolf Hills Brewing Co. or sample a glass of wine on a riverside patio at Abingdon Vineyard and Winery.