virginia creeper trail

Guest post: Virginia’s Creeper Trail offers an inspiring model for the Salmonberry

by on February 28th, 2018 at 9:49 am

The Whitetip Station along the Creeper Trail.
(Photos by Tom Howe)

This guest post is by Tom Howe, the man behind the Puddlecycle ride series. His last post was about biking to the solar eclipse.

“If you had told me at that time that those tracks would one day be a bike path with 250,000 riders annually, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

The Salmonberry Trail is a project that will make use of a derelict rail line from the current end of the Banks-Vernonia Trail all the way to the Oregon coast. The trail has been in the planning stages for a long time, but if Virginia’s experience with the state’s 34-mile Creeper Trail is any indication, Oregon would do well to complete the Salmonberry sooner rather than later.

Back in the 1980s, the Virginia Creeper was itself an abandoned rail line that the US Forest Service decided to make into a recreation trail. Given the very rural nature of the area, this idea was met with some skepticism, but the trail has become wildly successful beyond anyone’s expectations. The trail holds special significance to me, as I once lived in Abingdon just a few blocks from the abandoned rail line. As neighborhood kids, we’d go over to the tracks and walk over the high trestles as a foolish/daring/scary thing to do. The only thing I ever saw on the tracks was a Drasine – a motorized vehicle about the size of an automobile.

If you had told me at that time that those tracks would one day be a bike path with 250,000 riders annually, I wouldn’t have believed it. That figure is over 25 times the combined populations of the two towns along the trail – Abingdon and Damascus. Trail-related tourism is estimated at $25 million per year, and each overnight visitor spends about $700 in the area.
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