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Getting outdoors, even in winter, on Virginia’s Whitetop Mountain
By Tom Adkinson

virginia whitetop mountain fisherman
Whitetop Mountain fisherman; image by Tom Adkinson.

WHITETOP MOUNTAIN, Virginia – Whitetop Mountain, which rises to 5,520 feet in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, attracts outdoor enthusiasts even in winter. Hikers climb to Whitetop Mountain’s summit for panoramic views of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee that are made better without leaves on the trees, while other hikers, equestrians and bicyclists still enjoy the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail. Even a few dedicated trout fishermen brave the very chilly waters of creeks that cascade down the mountain. Whitetop Mountain is Virginia’s second highest peak and the highest point that can be reached by vehicle. Only Mount Rogers is taller (5,729 feet).

palm desert cactus
Whitetop Mountain bikers; image by Tom Adkinson.

Tiny Damascus is at the foot of the mountain, and although activity is slower in winter than in other seasons, you still can find cabin and B&B lodging, along with warming meals at restaurants such as Mojo’s Trailside Cafe and Coffee House and the 7 Trails Grill. Damascus is about the halfway point on the 34.3-mile-long Virginia Creeper Trail, one of America’s most famous rails-to-trails projects, which follows the route of a mountain railroad line that ceased operation in 1977. The trail got its name from the slow-moving trains that crept through the Virginia mountains and into North Carolina. Abingdon, famous for the Barter Theatre and the Martha Washington Inn, is at the other end of the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Trip-planning resource:,, and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published December 20, 2019

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