We couldn’t dally too long on the Nolichucky in order to make our bike shuttle reservation in Damascus!
We tried a new campground this trip, and would stay there again: Damascus Creekside RV Park. Use their directions when entering to be angled the right way. It’s a small park on Laurel Creek in downtown Damascus, walking distance to everything in town.
We raced to drop off Bugsy and the Airstream at Damascus Creekside RV and walk across the street to The Bike Station to be fitted for our rental bikes and catch our reserved shuttle up to White Top Mountain.
The Creeper Trail is a paved and soft-surface multi-use rails-to-trails path running 34 miles from White Top Mountain, through Damascus, and on to Abingdon. Most people shuttle up to White Top for the easy and scenic downhill ride to Damascus; we wanted to make a longer day of it, so decided to tack on the out-and-back between Damascus to Abingdon, for a total of 51 miles (plus a couple to get to our target destination in Abingdon). Whew!
Fun tidbits we learned from the shuttle driver:
- The world’s shortest train tunnel is in Damascus
- The Creeper Trail was built for logging, and the Creeper name came from the train’s slow pace up the steep mountain grades
The ride down from White Top was fun and mostly shady and all downhill back to Damascus. We took a break at home at the Airstream to hang out with Bugsy and take her to lunch, and then we got back on the bikes to ride to the northern terminus of the Creeper Trail in Abingdon. Damascus to Abingdon is a pretty and pleasant stretch, slightly uphill and with few people, as most tourist do the downhill ride from White Top to Damascus. Or maybe we barely saw anyone because the skies were about to open up and everyone but us realized it.
Eating and drinking
We lunched with Bugsy at Wicked Chicken in Damascus, a short walk from the campground, in the shady, dog-friendly yard. As expected, they have lots of chicken options, and for non-chicken eaters, they have some salads and fish tacos. I love a fish taco, but these fish tacos didn’t have a whole lot going on. The employees were lovely, though.
When we were a mile outside Abington on our bikes, the monsoon hit. We stumbled into Sweetbay Brewing dripping wet, dried off in the bathroom, and waited for a break in the rain with a beer. It’s a cool spot: the old brewery we’d loved in 2016 moved there and then Sweetbay bought them out, and we appreciated a bit of warmth and alcohol to help us steel ourselves for the rainy ride back to Damascus.
In the evening, we headed into town and had a cocktail at Appalachian Heritage Distillery. The atmosphere is comfortably swanky, the drinks were great, and they distill their own whiskey and gin, perfect for J and me.
In the morning, before we left, we called in an order to Main Street Coffee. The bagel sandwich was yummy but my favorite thing was that we could walk to pick up breakfast! Anytime you can walk from a campground into town is a win!
Damascus was the last place we stayed on our little mountains trip. We totally recommend stringing together any or all of the following destinations: