This avian-rich National Recreational Trail begins in Abingdon. Across from the parking area is an information center; behind it to the right sits the Virginia Creeper Engine and tender from which the trail gets its name. At its Abingdon launch, the trail winds its way 3.7 miles through woods, fields, and over Great Knobs to the tiny settlement of Watauga. Birders need to be aware of other users, especially cyclists and equestrians along the trail.
The trail woodlands hold a complexity of open country birds. The occurrence of numerous mulberry trees and nest boxes along the trail make them easily approachable. Species to look for include ruby-throated hummingbird, woodpeckers, northern flicker, eastern kingbird, and a multitude of other songbirds. The pond near the start of the trail hosts green heron, and belted kingfisher. Eastern painted turtle can be spied in surrounding moist areas along with wood frog and eastern garter snake.
Although used for centuries by Native Americans, the trail took on its more recent look just after 1900 when the Virginia-Carolina railroad was built to link Abingdon with Damascus. By 1914 the rail line was extended to Konnarock and Elkland, North Carolina. The railway hauled passengers and supplies into and lumber and iron ore out of the mountains for over 70 years. The Creeper had failed to make a profit since the Great Depression and ran its last train on March 31, 1977. Since the demise of the railroad, efforts by volunteers as well as state and federal governments have been concentrated on developing the trail into its present state as a National Recreational Trail. In 2014, the Virginia Creeper Trail was inducted in to the Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame.
Physical Address: 300 Green Spring Rd, Abingdon, VA 24210
From the Previous Site on the South Holston Loop of the VBWT:
From the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, head north on S Beaver Dam Ave toward W Laurel Ave, then turn left onto US-58 W/ N Beaver Dam Ave and continue on US-58 W for 9.9 miles. Turn slightly left onto US-11 S/ US-58 W and travel 2.6 miles. Turn left onto Pecan Street. Continue 0.1 miles, crossing the railroad tracks, continuing onto Green Spring Rd and park on the right across the street from the locomotive.