Amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, an unparalleled collection of outdoor experiences awaits. Abingdon, Virginia, is the perfect spot to pick an adventure, take it on and crush it! As an added bonus, when the day is done, Abingdon’s visitors can recall their conquests while enjoying the remarkable selection of amazing amenities of this historic town.
Just off I-81, only ten minutes north of Bristol, Tennessee, and two hours northeast of Asheville, North Carolina, Abingdon is a convenient drive from the region’s metropolitan areas and an excellent escape for those who want to get out and explore. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, climbing and more are highlights of the adventures awaiting in Abingdon.
The first experience for many is the Virginia Creeper Trail (Abingdon Trailhead: 300 Green Spring Road, Abingdon, Virginia 24210). Multiple entry points offer a variety of options, from an easy two-hour ride to an all-day, 68-mile round trip. Although biking is most popular on the trail, hiking and horseback riding are also permitted. The Hall of Fame Rails to Trails route, named for the 1880s steam engines that traversed the mountain grades, includes 47 original trestle bridges and amazing views of rivers, forests and farmlands that change with the seasons.
At the adjacent Creeper Trail Welcome Center, there is free parking, and local outfitters are happy to arrange bike rental and shuttle service to White Top Station (Whitetop Gap Road, Whitetop, Virginia 24292). The Creeper Trail Bike Shop (201 Pecan Street SE, Abingdon, Virginia 24210), just two blocks from the trailhead, offers bike rentals, sales and repairs, and a shuttle service. For the serious cycling fans, there are more nearby bike routes to explore, as well. Abingdon offers access to all these eight amazing bike trails in the region.
For hikers, the must-do adventure is exploring the nearby Channels Natural Area Preserve (Brumley Gap Road, Abingdon, Virginia 24210). The Channels is named for its maze-like system of sandstone crevices and boulders found along the crest of Middle Knob, the 4,208-foot-high point of Clinch Mountain. A combination of high elevation forest, rock outcrop and cliff communities are a wonderland to explore. The 721-acre preserve is part of the 4,836-acre Channels State Forest, which is open from dawn to dusk for hiking, wildlife watching, biking, horseback riding, hunting (with permit) and picnicking.
The adjacent 6,400-acre Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area and the 25,477-acre Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area expand on the seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor adventure in the region. Hidden Valley Lake (US-19 and US-58 North Jefferson, Virginia 24210) offers welcome challenges for climbing, paddling or fishing, as well.
The quality of fishing in the region is second to none and the variety has something for everyone. Anglers can choose from excellent options including the trout-stocked waters of Big Tumbling Creek or the highly-rated fly fishing at Whitetop Laurel Creek, a natural wild trout stream, ranked as one of the finest in the Southeast.
For bouldering, Grayson Highlands State Park (829 Grayson Highland Lane, Mouth of Wilson, Virginia 24363) is known as the best site in Virginia, with more than 700 named climbing routes on seven fields. It’s also known for its wild ponies, hiking and equestrian trails and amazing views. The nearby Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (3714 Hwy 16, Marion, Virginia 24354) offers some of the wildest and highest mountain terrain in Virginia as well as access to the Appalachian Trail.
With so many options available, some turn to the outdoor adventure itineraries offered online by the Abingdon Convention and Visitors Center. And of course, the amazing dining options in the idyllic setting of historic downtown Abingdon make fueling up for all that outdoor adventure a memorable experience and a highlight of any visit.
Dining offers just a taste of the wealth of amenities that makes Abingdon the perfect location for both finding adventure and for taking the edge off at day’s end. This walkable, bikeable town makes enjoying entertainment venues, local art displays, and all manner of downtown fun accessible. For details on where to stay, eat, shop and enjoy, go to www.VisitAbingdonVirginia.com.
Where to eat
With its more than 30 independent restaurants, Abingdon has been named in USA Today’s “Best Small Town Food Scene” list for two years running. The scene here is only getting better. Check out these favorite dining options in Abingdon, new and old:
The Girl & The Raven (380 East Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210)–As a new addition to the food scene, this café features dishes created from regionally sourced ingredients. These are paired with premium craft coffees using ethically sourced beans roasted in small batches in-house.
Luke’s Café (823 West Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 34210)–Amazing salads, burgers and sandwiches and full dinner menu all have an artistic flair at Luke’s. Fresh food and an art-and-music-inspired setting combine an outstanding dining experience in a casual atmosphere.
Rain (283 East Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210)–A local favorite, this eclectic spot has an extensive menu and artsy atmosphere, with indoor and outdoor seating. From soups, seafood and steaks to distinctive drinks and desserts, the menu is creative and yummy.
The Tavern (222 East Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210)–It’s located in Abingdon’s oldest building built in 1779 and dining at The Tavern is a long-standing tradition here. A diverse menu, extensive beer and wine list and full bar, coupled with the fascinating indoor and courtyard atmosphere, make for an excellent dining experience. Reservations are recommended.
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