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  1. #1
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    Default Virginia Creeper - January trip

    So, over the last 3-4 months I have started getting some serious wanderlust and have finally convinced my wife to let me start working up to a series of section hikes on the AT. To get back in shape (And not the current pear shape I am now) I have started working on day hikes (6-8 miles) and I am planning on doing a few three day, then week hikes. My first long trip will be the Virginia Creeper from Abingdon to Whitetop Mountain (34.3 mountains, fairly flat). Since I am leaving in late January, will I run into a problem where the campgrounds are closed due to the time of year? Camping in the cold doesn't bother me (Growing up in North Pole, Alaska helped with that). Just trying to get an idea as to what I am looking at for a decent 2 or 3 day hike. I really don't want to be stuck staying in towns because they have closed camping during the winter.

    Thanks in Advance
    Moose

  2. #2

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    A quick check of the creeper web site shows the commercial camp grounds are closed until April. However, you probably wouldn't have any real trouble finding places to camp along the trail. The only problem you might have is finding suitable water sources for cooking and drinking.

    It doesn't matter where you grew up, you still need to have proper winter gear for the conditions you might encounter.
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  3. #3
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    I love the Virginia Creeper... from the back of a bicycle.

    It's been years since I was on the Virginia Creeper, but everything I recall says that it isn't a trail conducive to multi-day hikes.
    For starters, when I went searching for information about camping on the Virginia Creeper, most of the camping shown was front country camp sites. About the only exception was camping in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Of course the other issue is that hiking on a relatively flat trail isn't going to prepare much for hiking the ups and downs of the AT.

    I would suggest looking more into doing some short back country camping in places near you.

  4. #4

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    The Iron Mt Trail is right there near Damascus. My buddy and I did a two night trip along it during the winter. Pretty easy hiking.
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  5. #5
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    You said a decent 2 day hike... The Creeper trail is easy crus'in. If you can do a 17 mile day, from Abingdon to Damascus is 17, you can camp/stay at Crazy Larry's which is just a hundred yards off the creeper. The second day, 17 to whitetop. The grades are easy and will be an excellent/speedy cardio walk.

  6. #6
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    I was trying to find an easy start to get back into the swing of moving with a purpose. But I also want to be able to pull out my gear and use it along the way. I got on the websites showing the main campsites were closed, but nothing really about camping off trail. As a second option I considered the Standing Indian loop that comes highly recommended on this site. but unfortunately most of the stuff within 4 hours of me are only good for day hikes.

  7. #7
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    i wouldnt do the standing indian loop as easy start to get back into things.........

    as for camping off trail along the creeper----back in october when i was in that area, i stopped at the whitetop station and asked about free camping along the trail.......

    as yes, there are commercial camping places, but i was more into doing it as a backpacking type of trip and camping for free along the way..........

    he told me that there were campsites along the way as the creeper trail is part of the right of way or national forest lands----i forget which....

    and he said one could do it as long as one wouldnt disturb the private residences and land along the way (mainly for water and bathrooms).......

    call some of the outfitters in that area that run the shuttles-----they may know more...............or not----most of their business is day trippers.......

    and speaking of that----not sure how crowded it would be for ya in january but in october, i counted 12 vans coming back to town from whitetop at like ten am.....

  8. #8
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    according to this..
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/sp...telprdb5312878

    one is able to camp along the way.......

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    I read through the sections about camping Well off the trail, so I should at least be fine. It sounds like the biggest part is what TNHiker mentioned, staying away from people's houses when finding a place to set up. Of course one of the benefits of going in an off-season is that the foot traffic should be fairly light. The last time I was on it the worst traffic were mountain bikers running people off the trail. Thanks for the info...going to call a few outfitters on Monday and see if they have any additional info for the time of year.

    Moose

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose1176 View Post
    I read through the sections about camping Well off the trail, so I should at least be fine. It sounds like the biggest part is what TNHiker mentioned, staying away from people's houses when finding a place to set up. Of course one of the benefits of going in an off-season is that the foot traffic should be fairly light. The last time I was on it the worst traffic were mountain bikers running people off the trail. Thanks for the info...going to call a few outfitters on Monday and see if they have any additional info for the time of year.

    Moose
    Moose,
    Most if not all of the cycle outfitters close for the November-March season. That would presumably limit the number of banzai downhill cyclers from Whitetop to Damascus.

    I've ridden the whole VCT several times. Starting at Abingdon, you're mostly on private land all he way to Damascus. There are a few places to tuck in and hide, I guess, but not a whole lot of them. From Damascus to Whitetop is mostly NF land once you cross VA 91 on the east side of town. Notable segments of private land at Taylor's Valley and Green Cove. Some nice places to camp just above Taylor's Valley.

    AO

  12. #12
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    Sundog Outfitters/Adventure Damascus shuttles are open year round. i just shuttled some bikers this afternoon. plenty of places to camp the entire length. in Alvarado there is an established camping area right on the trail with a pavillion and grills/firepits. free

  13. #13
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    If you are in Damascus why not consider the AT? Or Grayson Highlands State Park? The creeper trail is awesome, but, I preferred riding my bike on it (we rode up to Whitetop and then down!) and hiking in other spots!

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