VA Rails to Trails Trip
The overall goal of this trip is to try out some new trails and generally
relax while doing it. I took my Mom's RV The general overall plan is below.
August 9th 1997
Elizabeths Furnace VA
A little hiking and some R&R.
||Elizabeths Furnace Campground. $11. No hook-ups.
Really nice place. Very rustic.
August 10th 1997
Skyline Drive VA to Caldwell WV
Drive around, take in scenery.
||Parking Lot. $Free. Not Legal.
August 11th 1997
Greenbrier Trail WV
Ride the Trail!
||Greenbrier State Park. $14 with AC. Very nice. Only 15
spots. About 8 miles from end of trail.
August 12th 1997
Mountain Lake VA
Get in some MT biking around al those dirt roads.
||White Oak Recreation Area. $4. What a bargin. ~40 sites.
No hook-ups but who cares? Lots of trails and very secluded.
August 13th 1997
Bike Northern section of New River Trail
||Dunbar VA Horseshoe Campground. $14. Full hook-up. Direct
access to New River Trail. 10 Miles south of Pulaski.
August 14th 1997
Bike Southern section of New River Trail
||Abingdon VA. Riverside Campground $18 Full hook-up. Very
nice. Right on the river. Full Amenities. Very clean.
August 15th 1997
Bike the Virginia Creeper.
||Interstate Camping. $14. Its really just a parking lot
with a bathhouse.
August 16th 1997
Drive home stopping at every DQ.
Saturday August 9th
First thing we did was try to get a camping spot a Elizabeths Furnace.
It was full teh night before so we had to stay at Poe's Campground.
It was right by the river. Not exactly what we were looking for. So
we drove out to the campground and lucked out and got a great spot. (spot
25) Then Mom, Michelle and I set out to hike to Signal Knob.... Didn't
make it. Still had fun. Next time we should set out before 2pm and bring
more water. John showed up later and we made him his first s'more at the
fire. Then we watched the free bluegrass show at the campgroud ampitheater.
Sunday August 10th 1997
Mom made us a killer pancake and bacon breakfast. Then we piled into John's
tiny convertable and drove to Skyline drive via a loop through Luray.
After lunch Michelle and Mom headed for home in John's shiny new car,
(Michelle very much enjoyed driving it home) John and I headed for Cladwell
WV for riding the Greenbrier trail the next day. Lukily for us we spotted
a Dairy Queen just outside of Strausburg. Ahhh. What better way to start
After some pizza for dinner we parked the RV at the Parking lot at
the end of the Greenbrier Trail. A sign said the lot closed at dark, but
we crashed there for the night anyway.
Monday August 11th 1997
The Greenbrier Trail: Marlindon to Caldwell
We make it though the night without any harrasment from WV state troopers.
They must have been to busy with the state fair going on in nearby Lewiston.
8:00am sharp Roseanne from Appalacian Sports shows up. She will be our
ride to Marlindon and the start of the trail. (The Greenbrier actually
starts at Cass but the top 20 miles are closed due to flood damage in January
1995). Roseanne, a local school teacher only 3 classes from her Masters,
Go For It Rosanne! gave us much of the local history (and some of
the local gossip :) on the way up. We whizzed by Hillsboro, the birth place
of Pearl S. Buck, and Troop Mountain, the some say haunted site of a very
bloody civil war battle.
From Marlinton we headed north about 10 miles on the trail to check
out Sharps Tunnel. This is a 511 foot curved tunnell that looks very dark
when you first enter it. Right before the tunnel is a very long bridge.
Pretty cool spot.
Heading back we saw something that took us totally by surprize. I heard
a movement in the weeds to the right. I figured it might be a deer.We
had already seen 3 that morning. Then not 20 ft in front a me a HUGE
BLACK BEAR runs across the trail from the river up into the woods.
John and I can't believe it. I'm telling you this bear was BIG! It was
about 3ft tall at the shoulder and it was long enough to straddle the trail
when it went across. It must have been around 200 lbs. I'm am completly
amazed. I had never seen a bear in the wild before. And this one was right
in front of me. Wow, very cool.
We made it back to Marlindon and just in time for a visit to our local
Dairy Queen. Then back on the trail this time heading south. Away from
We enjoyed the only paved section of the trail coming out of Marlindon.
Many sections of the trail were pretty rough and slow going. To anybody
thinking about doing this ride I would suggest Mountain Bikes preferably
with shocks. The gravel will just beat you to death. Most of the trail
is like a lightly traveled dirt road. Some sections have very large gravel
(bigget than 2") that will throw the bike all over the place. We could
only go 10-12 MPH most of the way.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventfull. John got a flat and I lost
a pully on my rear derailer. I had to ride the last 10 miles in my highest
gear. We went though another tunnel at Troop Mountain. Didn't see any
Later in the day we saw ANOTHER BLACK BEAR crossing the trail.
This one was much smaller, but made us more nervous because it had a cub
with it. Once is passed the trail we high tailed it out of there. The total
Critter count for the say was.....
3 Black Bears
Man, talk about Wild Wonderful West Virginia.
We got in around 7pm having biked 77.5 miles. We stayed at the Greenbrier
State Forest and grilled up some Turkey burgers for dinner.
Tuesday August 12th 1997
We really slept in late. Finally left the campground around 11:00. We headed
back into Lewisburg to find the bike shop. I needed a new pulley and John
bought some knobby tires for the Mt biking later that day.
After a stop at Wal-Mart for some provisions we took the scenic route
to White Oak campground. Even missed a turnoff and went down a 1-lane dirt
road for 7 miles to get back. Finally got settled in around 4pm. So we
took off biking at 4:30 with the plan being to do a loop around Mountain
Lake detailed in Scott Adams Book. What a mistake. We still aren't sure
where we went wrong. We got about 10 miles out and got hammered with rain.
Must've taken a wrong turn somewhere cause we never made it to Mountain
Lake. So we head back to camp. I then get a fire going and use all my cooking
skills to completly burn one side of our chicken breast dinner while leaving
the other raw. Then in trying to salvage the crispy bird I dump it into
the fire. What a mess. I quickly rinse it off and start cooking the other
side. It ended up ok. A little crunchy maybe but ok. Maybe tomoroww we
will try it again.
Wednesday August 13th 1997
First thing on the agenda today was to figure out how to get to Mountain
Lake. So we broke camp and got the RV headed up Rt 613 and climbed and
climbed and climbed. We crawled up this one lane dirt road. Most of it
I wouldn't recommend taking a car. The RV did great though.
Some of the road was so bumpy that it knocked my recumbent right off
the bike rack. When I finally noticed it was gone we were almost to the
top of the mountain. John put on his running shoes and headed down the
road looking for the 'bent overboard. He found it about 1 1/2 miles away.
I hopped on my Mt bike and found John running up the road pushing the bike.
He looked like one of those runners pushing a stroller. Damage to the bike
included a flat front tire and a broken weld where the seat connects to
the frame. BUMMER! This means I'm stuck riding the Mt Bike.
We finally make it to Mt Lake. What a posh resort. This where Dirty
Dancing was filmed. I only found one cut-out of Patrick Swazie. (Work
it out Baby! Work..Work) Took a couple pictures and hit the highway
looking for the nearest DQ.
Once we got settled in the campground we headed down the New River
Trail. We headed 15 miles south towards the shot tower. The trail is in
really good shape. Very smooth. Our only problems came when we reached
a section of the trail that is closed due to some lame land dispute. The
park service put up signs telling you the trail is closed but not only
did they not give you alternate route directions, but they don't put up
the sign untill you are far away from any access road. So we said the hell
with it and kept going. The trail was grown over but still fine. We did
come up to a fence which we promptly climbed over. Then we were chased
by three very mean looking dogs. (And one very fat dog.) We just out ran
them and kept going. The way back was the same story. Just ride quietly
until you hear the dogs barking and then sprint like crazy! I had a pack
of three dogs chasing me when suddenly the lead dog starts yelping in pain.
The other two mutts stop while this one dog limps around. John catches
up with them and they don't seem interested anymore. I have no idea what
happened. I was to busy keeping the bike on the trail while pedaling my
ass off. John thinks the dog pulled a muscle. Lets see, thats Bikers 7
On the way back we rode past the campground to Pulaski for a great
cheap dinner at the Steak House. After dinner we had a quick 10 mile ride
back in the DARK to the campground.
The trail is very scenic with high cliffs to the left and the New River
to the right and many trestle crossing providing great views.
Tommorow we plan on riding the southern section from the Shot Tower
Thursday August 14th 1997
The southern end of the New River Trail is much nicer, with more scenery,
more trestles, and no annoying closed sections. John and I both felt crappy
in the morning but after some lunch pretty much flew on the way back. The
trail was in great condition although we didn't see very many people using
it. We did ride with a fella named Russ for awhile. He was training for
a marathon and thought he would get in some biking for a change of pace.
After our ride to from the Shot Tower to Galax and back we headed for Abingdon
to find some camping. John prepared a scrumptious ragatoni dinner which
tasted great but two hours later forced me on my knees in front of the
toilet. Thats the last time I trust his cooking. :)
Friday August 15th 1997
We prepare for our assault on The Virgina Creeper buy snagging some heavy
pancakes from a hole in the wall diner in Abingdon. The breakfast made
John a little sick.... Good. So anyway the Creeper trail is awesome. Leaving
Abingdon is fairly flat to Damascus. From there the trail starts heading
up. And up, and up. climbing 1500 ft at a constant grade. I ran out of
water and was hating life until I got to Green Cove. Besides John I only
saw 3 other people going up the trail, the rest were going down. They had
taken the shuttle to the top. NOT ME! After drinking about three gallons
of water I make it to Whitetop Station. Some station. No water, no food,
no nothing! Just a sign and a foundation where the station used to be.
Oh well, for the ride back to Damascus I can really haul ass. You can almost
coast the entire 15 miles but I was pushing anyway. Flying over trestles.
What a blast. It took 2 hour 20 min to get to the top from Damascus and
1 hour to get down. The rest of the ride was uneventful, or so I though.
I snapped some photos of the cows blocking the path about 10 miles from
the finish. I didn't know it at the time but I dropped my wallet on the
trail getting my camera. At about 6:30 I make it back to the RV
Saturday August 16th 1997