To see the most scenic parts of the trail in a short amount of mileage, we parked at the Green Cove Station. It was a popular day and the trail was often crowded with large groups shuttled to the White Top Station, who then coasted downhill to Damascus. We elected to do it the real way and pedal against gravity, and the tide of humanity, uphill from Green Cove to White Top. We explored the store and museum at Green Cove, then had a pleasant pedal for about 3 miles to White Top. There we explored the other store and museum.
Near the top I got to play Ranger Bob by helping a girl whose rental bike handle bar was loose and flopping up and down. I found the right size allen wrench and fastened it for her.
Along the way we say abundant signs of wild life - red wing blackbirds, ravens, indigo buntings, gold finches, two huge beaver ponds, beaver chewed trees, croaking bull frogs and brilliant green pond frogs. Best of all we saw a forked log in a beaver pond with 5 turtles getting their daily sun bath. Further inspection revealed many more turtles in the water. Later on the trail we heard from another family of bikers who had watched the same turtles, that the largest mossy backed denizen had run off all the others and took over the log for himself!
Then we coasted from White Top back to our starting place and had a nice lunch in the shade of the large maple trees surrounding the community center at Green Cove.
We felt that we had some energy left, so we challenged the next 3 mile section downhill from Green Cove to Creek Crossing. That section crossed some larger creeks and several long, high trestle bridges. Of course, the most difficult part of the trip was finally pedaling back uphill, totaling 12 miles for the day, returning from Creek Crossing to Green Cove. We were much more tired and our butts were stressfully sore from pounding on the rocky and rutted trail. At one of the creek crossings we stopped to remove our shoes and cool our feet in the creek. I showed some little kids how to skip a stone across the water. Eventually we made it back to the Bronco, safe and sound!
On the way home, we stopped at the Crowbar Grill on US-58 and bought a take-out supper. Then we went to Grayson Highland State Park for a beautiful, scenic picnic. Closer to home, we took several more side trips to explore some remote sections of northwest Ashe County, visit Debbie's relatives in the area and hunt for land to buy. A good time was had by all.