I absolutely love biking. Particularly when it consists of cruising for 17 miles downhill on a beautiful Virginia mountain, just absorbing the roaring river and muted wonder of the forest.
My mommy loves taking us on unexpected adventures. This MLK day she drove us up to Virginia to enjoy the Virginia Creeper Biking Trail.
(In case you were wondering, it isn’t as creepy as it sounds.)
It was a bit chilly, but we still had a blast. We stopped at abandoned restaurants and old-fashioned playgrounds to warm up (When I say old-fashioned playground I mean the ones that were built before safety regulations made all the really fun equipment illegal. You know, the ones where “play at your own risk” signs actually meant that real risk was involved.). Sometimes my sisters and I would chat as we cruised along. Sometimes I would ride ahead and enjoy the sweet solitude of the forest.
The Creeper Trail is part of a new movement sweeping the U.S. called Rails to Trails. Rails to Trails is a non-profit organization that helps to turn abandoned railway lines into high quality trails. Their goal is to create enough trails so that by 2020 90% of Americans will be living within 3 miles of a trail.
Why are trails so awesome? Well, first of all they are a beautiful escape to nature. They offer a low-cost no excuses way to get some exercise. Also, trails act as conservation corridors for local eco-systems.
Aside from the more obvious health and environment benefits, trails can be a great thing for whole communities as well. Take for example Damascus VA, where the creeper trail is located. It was a lumber town on an important train route. When the train stopped operating, the economy was set back considerably. Now the VA Creeper Trail has completely revitalized the economy by creating the need for restaurants, shuttle services, bike rent/repair shops, and hotels for tourists and other adventurers. Not only has it helped the town onto its feet again, the trail has become a source of identity and pride for locals.
Rails to Trails is working on projects all over the country. I say all aboard!
Here are some photos of other projects:
Do you have any great trails near you?