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Virginia

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Chincoteague National
Wildlife Refuge
High Bridge Trail State Park
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New River Trail Virginia Creeper Trail
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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore cover 14,000 acres of beach, dunes, marsh, and maritime forest - a wonderful, unspoiled area. A major storm in 1962 wiped out all development on Assateague Island, and it was set aside as a national seashore. The island is also home to the Chincoteague Ponies, descendants of horses brought to the island in the 17th century and later made famous by Marguerite Henry's book, Misty of Chincoteague.

The refuge reminds us of Florida's Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, with one difference - the wonderful paved trails! We biked on the Wildlife Loop, Woodlands Trail, and others. Hiking-only trails are generally unpaved. Biking is not restricted to the refuge, Chincoteague Island is adding bike trails as well but we focused on the refuge in Virginia (the northern portion of Assateague Island is in Maryland). Due to mosquitoes, not recommended in the summer. (Trip report: May 2017)


View Larger Map
Location: Assateague Island, Accomack County (See map, left)
Distance: 6.3 miles of paved trails, more on park roads
Surface: Paved
Bike Shops/Rentals: Bike Depot, Jus' Bikes, Mid Town Bike Store (Chincoteague)
Support and Advocacy: Chincoteague Natural History Association
More information (open in a new window):
- US Fish and Wildlife Service - Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- US Fish and Wildlife Service - Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Trails
- National Park Service - Assateague National Seashore
 
Biking at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
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Wildlife Loop - 3.2 miles
Open for biking and walking all day; cars allowed 3 p.m. to dusk
Swan Cove Trail - 0.5 mile
From Wildlife Loop to the beach

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Black Duck Trail - 1 mile
Connects Wildlife Loop to Woodland Trail
Woodland Trail loop - 1.6 miles
Through pine forest, to pony overlook (right)
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Lighthouse Trail - 0.25 miles
Walking only, to the lighthouse
Chincoteague Ponies
Pony viewing platform (left) - there were about 30 milling around, but accidentally deleted the photos and can't retrieve!
Corral (right) is for a roundup held each year, horses auctioned to thin the herd.
 
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Access trail from Chincoteague Island - 1 mile
Over Asseateague Bridge from Chincoteague Island to Wildlife Drive parking area
Statue of Misty at Chincoteague

High Bridge Trail State Park

The 31 mile trail is a linear state park, running on an old rail bed of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The trail has some easy grades, picnic, parking and restroom/port-a-let facilities. The focal point is the High Bridge, a 2,400 foot long, 60-125 foot high bridge crossing the Appomattox River. The original wooden bridge was built in 1854 and played a role in the Civil War. A steel bridge was built in 1914 with the railroad running until 2004. We rode the trail at High Bridge and the section around Farmville, VA (approximate midpoint of the trail)


View Larger Map
Location: Pamplin City to Burkeville; Cumberland, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties (See map, left)
Distance: 31 miles
Surface: Crushed limestone
Bike Shops/Rentals: High Bridge Rails and Trails Bike Rental, Farmville
Support and Advocacy: Friends of High Bridge Trail State Park
More information (open in a new window):
- Virginia State Parks - High Bridge Trail State Park
  
Biking High Bridge Trail State Park
 High Bridge, River Road access
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River Road parking River Road to
High Bridge
High Bridge Biking over
High Bridge
View of Appomattox River from High Bridge
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Rest stop on
High Bridge
Trail between High Bridge and Rice Original railroad mile markers are used on
the trail
Typical directional markers
Farmville
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Between Osborne Road and Farmville Entering Farmville Crossing at Main Street Parking and facilities at Farmville
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Trail at Farmville Historic Train Station along the trail Crossing Buffalo Creek Leaving Farmville, toward Tuggle Road

New River Trail

The 57 mile trail is a linear state park, and is a designated National Recreational Trail. 37 miles follow the New River which, contrary to its name, is the second oldest river in the world. The trail runs on the old rail bed of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which donated the land.


View Larger Map
Location: Galax to Pulaski, spur to Fries; Carroll, Grayson, Pulaski and Wythe Counties, Virginia (See map, left)
Distance: 57 miles
Surface: Cinder and limestone
Bike Shops/Rentals: Pulaski Bikes, Pulaski
More information (open in a new window):
- Virginia State Parks - New River Trail
Biking on the New River Trail
 Gambetta Trailhead toward Fries
We rode a short distance then got rained out, we'll visit this trail another time to explore more.
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Trailhead at
Gambetta Road
Along the trail north from Gambetta Chestnut Creek
from trail
Tunnel
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Approaching bridge Bridge at juncture of Chestnut Creek
and New River
Fries Junction Facilities at
Fries Junction
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Trail along New River Campground New River from trail Horses at
Gambetta Trailhead

Virginia Creeper Trail

Located in the southwest Virginia Blue Ridge Highlands, the Virginia Creeper National Recreational Trail runs 34 miles from Abingdon to the Virginia-North Carolina border. Like many things in Virginia, the trail has a long history. Starting as a Native American trail, it was later used by pioneers including Daniel Boone before the railroad was built in 1887. "Virginia Creeper" is a type of plant and the name was given to the steam locomotives struggling up the mountains.

The trail is considered one of the most beautiful on the East Coast, and we have to agree. The scenic trail includes 47 trestles and is popular for biking, hiking (the Appalachian Trail crosses the Virginia Creeper Trail at various points and runs through Damascus), horseback riding, and cross country skiing. Abingdon and Damascus have food, facilities, and shops.


View Larger Map
Location: Abingdon to North Carolina state line near Whitetop Station; Washington and Grayson Counties, Virginia (See map, left)
Distance: 34 miles
Surface: Various, paved and  unpaved
Bike Shop/Rentals: Creeper Trail Bike Rental-Shuttle, Damascus
More information (open in a new window):
- Virginia Creep Trail Club-Virginia Creeper Trail
  
Biking on the Virginia Creeper Trail
Abingdon to Alvarado Station
Abingdon is a quaint town with a long history (founded 1778). The old architecture is charming, with shops and good restaurants. Alvarado Station, once a depot on the Virginia Creeper Line, is at about the midpoint between Abingdon and Damascus, and as the lowest point of the trail it's uphill in either direction, but no more than 2 degree rise (except for one steep hill) so easy even for us flatland Florida bikers.
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Locomotive exhibit at trailhead Beginning of Trail at Abingdon Trailhead Along the trail near Abingdon
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More views along the trail The gates keep cows off the trail The steepest hill on this portion of the trial
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Bridge over Holston River Steps lead to a home Karst rock formations and caves are found in this area Approaching Alvarado Station
Alvarado Station to Damascus
This section starts out along Laurel Creek and goes through pretty countryside before emerging onto the road near Damascus. Damascus is popular for the shuttles that run up to Whitetop Station for the 17-mile ride downhill (see below). The Appalachian Trail goes down Main Street with as many hikers as bikers.
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Trailhead at Alvarado Station Alvarado Station Leaving Alvarado Station Along the trail
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Entering a pleasant valley Gate keeping cows off the trail Pleasant rest stop along Laurel Creek Trail along Laurel Creek Along the trail
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Approaching Damascus Damascus trailhead Trestle bridge leaving Damascus trailhead Caboose exhibit
Whitetop Station to Damascus
Whitetop Station in the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area is the highest point of the trail and a short distance from the North Carolina line. The downhill ride is very scenic and very popular - 500-600 people will ride it on a busy day. We rode mid-week and encountered many fewer than that.
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One of many shuttles available in Damascus At the trailhead at Whitetop Station; growing Christmas trees is a big business in this area Whitetop Station Starting downhill
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Along the trail from Whitetop Station to Damascus Green Cove Trailhead; Green cove is the last remaining original depot on the trail
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Appalachian Trail hikers at one of the points it meets the Virginia Creeper Trail Laurel Creek from
the trail
A trestle bridge approaching Damascus Leaving the forest On the road approaching Damascus

More information on biking in Virginia (opens in a new window):
- Virginia DOT-Trails
- Rails to Trails Conservancy-Bike Trails in Virginia

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