Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Biking the New River Trail, Part Two

Let's continue on down the New River Trail.
If you missed part one of this adventure, turn
your bike around and find it.

This level stretch is characteristic of much of
the trail, which follows an abandoned railroad
bed.  This is why the trail is ideal for bikers
of all ages who don't necessarily have to be
in great shape.

It was a beautiful day for a bike tour.  In
fact, it was about the only day in the last
ten that was perfect.

Something big is ahead in the distance.

We'll get there, but some trailside sights
delay us.

Note the honeybee.

Here we are at the Hiwassee trestle.
Several different views follow.


Here we say goodbye to the Claytor Lake
portion of the trail.

Lots of ancient rock formations, cut through
by the original railroad.

Highway 10 is now between us and the
still-wide river.

The quaint station house at Allisonia means
we're nearing our turn-around point.

This is one of the occasional glimpses of
civilization we encounter.

All aboard!  Bikes now leaving Allisonia!

We rode through a few  leaf showers that
began to paint the trail.

At last we come to Big Reed trestle.

Big Reed gets its name from this broad,
expansive field of reeds which are well-
watered by the flooding of the New River.

The LAST bridge.  Whew!
Except we have to cross them all again
on the seven mile trek back.

This auto-shot is a little blurry.
Or maybe it was just us.

As we pedaled back, tired and sore, the
mile posts became our most welcome sight.
We had started at Draper, the 6.2 mile point
of the trail, and turned around at Big Reed
Trestle, the 13.2 mile point.

Every landmark we passed was a little 
closer to "home."

As a collector, I couldn't help but notice
this odd collection of concrete pilings a
neighbor of the trail had compiled.  Don't
call me odd!

We had seen (and dodged) numerous black
walnuts along the trail.

And there were chestnuts, too.  Ain't it a beauty?

Nearing Draper, and plenty of daylight left.

Milepost 7 would be the last one before Draper.

As close as we were to the finish line, I had
to stop to photograph the handiwork of a
leaf-cutter insect.

Draper Station!  We made it!

What a great ride on a beautiful day.  We'll
no doubt return to ride other sections of our
beloved New River Trail, including places
like Galax, Fries, Shot Tower, and Foster Falls.
No doubt we'll either be found at Grassy Creek
Cabooses or Trinkle Mansion B&B, both 
great places!
Make sure you've seen all four of my blog
posts covering this fun trip.  Happy trails!

Nine Years Later: Biking the New River Trail, Part One

More than ten years ago, Judy and I got our
first experience on Rails to Trails, biking on
Virginia's New River Trail.  Over five or so
short trips, we biked the entire length of the
57 mile linear trail.  In April 2006, we biked
one of the prettiest, from Draper to Allisonia.
This year, 9 1/2 years later, we hauled our
40 year old bikes and our . . . ahem . . .
somewhat older bodies back to the same
rustic locale.

From the old train station at Draper, you don't
have to ride far to come to the first grand bridge.

It's a long one, and a necessity for the railroad
that once made daily runs over Virginia's hills
and valleys.

The train may be gone, but the views remain.

Throughout our ride, it was fun to compare
the fall view to the spring view we had seen before.

As I've mentioned before, Virginia's mountains
are not as high as NC's tallest peaks, but they
have the rustic tranquility that we love.

Parallel to much of the old train route is
Highway 100, a quiet country road that has
its own charm.  We've followed it for
scenic viewing all the way from Draper to
Hillsville, VA before.

It's a long way down, but somehow doesn't
spook me like the 100 foot tower at Big
Walker Lookout.

Our visit was a couple of weeks before the
peak of fall color, but we saw occasional
glimpses of autumn splendor.

Back on the bikes, time to move on.

Lead on, Judy.

I imagine this view from a train. The bridge
is an engineering feat.

I had my camera firmly looped around my
wrist for this and all pictures near drop-offs.

Our second bridge was even longer and even
more amazing.

Our forty year-old Motobecane racing bikes.
But you don't race on the New River Trail.
You savor every passing scene.  The sheepskin
seats would help -- for the first few miles.

One special thing about this segment of the
trail is that the New River was long ago dammed
near the town of Radford, a few miles north, to
form Claytor Lake.  So for a few miles we would
follow a wider than usual New River.

Many lucky folks who cherish "a room with
a view" have made their homes in this area.
But it's far from crowded.

The scenes along Claytor Lake reminded us
riverside views at Morrow Mountain.

A lone hint of color from a maple.

One of the New River's tributaries passes beneath.

Affirmation that fall is coming.

At center, a hump-backed orb-weaving
spider goes about his handiwork.

I love this view, because it looks like the
spider has "spun" that bare tree. If that were
possible, her skill would rival Charlotte!

A mile or so further, we cross another bridge.
We realize we can look back along the lake
border and see where we were earlier.

Scarcely visible at center, is the last bridge
we had crossed.

Here's the zoom of that same bridge from afar.

Another lake scene.

Some flowers are blooming in fall.

I was delighted to find this Maidenhair Fern,
which I had only seen in books before.

Its trademark is the fan-shaped display of fronds.

These pictures have covered the first few
miles of our journey.  My fourth and final
post (second about the New River Trail)
will portray the final miles of the ride.