One of the ways that I celebrated the Solstice with my family was a beautiful bike ride on the Creeper Trail in Virginia. It is one of our most favorite things to do as a family. It's relaxing, fun, adventurous, and breathtaking. The beauty of the mountains makes you think that you have walked into a magical land. The moss covered cliffs, the babbling water of the river, the smell of the mountain laurel mixed with pine and cedar.......nothing can compare. I love being surrounded by this.
The Creeper Trail was once a railroad line. It's end began with the Depression, with the track being removed in 1977. You can read about it here: http://www.vacreepertrail.com/history/vacreeperhistory.htm It is the perfect place to camp, hike, horseback ride and bike. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the trail.
The entire Creeper Trail is 34 miles long, but the part we enjoy is 17 miles. We have our own bikes, so we don't have to rent them. There are several bike rental/shuttle services in Damascus. We paid $13 per person for our shuttle to the top. My hubs called ahead of time to find out when the last shuttle for the day would be and reserved our spots on the shuttle. The last shuttle time was 2:00 p.m and we had to be there 15 minutes before it left. We left our home at 12:00 and arrived just in time to make the shuttle.
They had also informed the hubs that it had been raining off and on so far that day. We decided to wear black shirts, because of mud splatter. The dirt on the trail is a black dirt, so I knew it would be a muddy mess. You can see the mud splatters on my hubby's shirt. We actually did buy some plastic ponchos at the bike shop, in case it came a downpour, but we didn't want to wear them just for mud splatters because it would have been like wearing a garbage bag in the sun. No thank you.
It turns out that this was going to be the best day to go ever! The mud was fun, the rain caused it to be a nice, slow day. There weren't that many people that wanted to deal with the mud, so we had the trail to ourselves for much of the day, passing random bikers only here and there.
On the way up the mountain, a gorgeous young black bear ran across the road in front of our shuttle and dove over the guardrail. I didn't have time to snap a pic, it happened so fast.
These are from the board at Whitetop Station.
There are all kinds of bridges to ride your bike over, camping sites, and pathways. We have decided to go back and camp for the night. You can also take your dogs as long as they are on a leash.
It's hard to tell from the pics but these two were actually about 80 feet in the air. We are looking down on the tops of the trees.
When we came home, we dug a small firepit and celebrated our day and the Solstice.