There are so many ways to describe Abingdon. Historic. Scenic. Charming. Artistic.
Located only 12 miles from the Appalachian Trail, Abingdon is nestled in the Blue Ridge Highlands region of the Appalachian Mountains. This area is rich in outdoor recreation with biking, hiking, and fishing. You’ll also find a charming and historic downtown, a thriving local arts scene, farm-to-table restaurants, museums, and great shopping. Plan your next adventure on the Appalachian Trail and stay in Abingdon at www.visitabingdonvirginia.com, and remember: “It’s Always Play Time in Abingdon.”
- Feel the clean mountain breeze as you coast down Virginia Creeper Trail, a bucket-list trail. Start at Whitetop Mountain and enjoy a downhill stretch through Jefferson National Forest or start in Abingdon for a ride favored by locals, crossing the beautiful Holston River trestle and ending at Abingdon Vineyards. No matter which starting point you pick, shuttle services are available to pick you up at the end. BONUS: The Virginia Creeper Trail intersects with the A.T. in Damascus, VA, from there it’s just a 17-mile hike to the heart of historic Abingdon.
- Take in a show at Barter Theatre, the most famous stage in Virginia. With its unique history and outstanding productions, Barter Theatre is a must-see attraction. When it opened its doors in the midst of the Great Depression, Barter’s motto was “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh!” And that is literally what patrons did, as they bartered vegetables, livestock, milk and eggs for admission. Since that time, Barter has fostered the talent of rising stars such as Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal and Hume Cronyn. Barter’s dress code is relaxed, welcoming patrons to come as they are.
- Meet working artists in their studios at The Abingdon Arts Depot. This non-profit artist’s collective features three large galleries housed in a 19th century freight station. Seven resident studio artists work in the Arts Depot in a wide range of media including watercolor, weaving, clay, jewelry, and acrylics. Their studios are open to visitors and the artists are pleased to discuss their work and offer demonstrations of their skills. All artwork created in the artist’s studios and in the galleries is available for purchase.
- Enjoy some local food and brews. Abingdon’s historic streets are packed with one-of-a-kind dining opportunities. Start your day with cold-pressed juice and locally-sourced breakfast items at White Birch Juice Company or try authentic European baked goods at the Balkan Bakery inside Zazzy’Z Coffee Shop. For lunch, enjoy perfectly smoked barbecue at Bone Fire Smoke House, wood fired pizza at Moon Dog Brick Oven, or eclectic local fare at 128 Pecan. Stop by Abingdon Vineyards for a tasting and a stroll of their beautiful riverfront property. For dinner, you’ll have a charming experience at the Tavern (open since 1779), Sisters at the Martha Washington Inn, or Rain. Wrap up the day with a visit to Anthony’s Desserts and Wolf Hills Brewery.
- A do-not-miss stop on your itinerary is the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center. This iconic building is your tempting first-taste of the culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. From the sounds of the region’s distinctive bluegrass to the sights of world- renowned folk artists from around the mountains, you’ll find moments of discovery for the entire family. Art and craft lovers will enjoy the five shopping galleries featuring juried craft from ’Round the Mountain Artisan Network and showcases the individuals who have devoted their lives to interpreting SWVA through all forms of the arts. The SWVA Café recreates traditional southern moments through modern cuisine served in a relaxed atmosphere, with assortment of specialties crafted from the weekly farmer’s market on the daily menu. Enjoy local roasts brewed up daily to give you a jolt of caffeine or kick back and relax with a locally crafted wine or craft beer.
Photos of Abingdon, Va.
Red shrubbery blooms in front of The Arts Depot in Abingdon, VA on Friday, October 19, 2012. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette
The historic Barter Theatre during the brilliant fall foliage along Main Street in Abingdon, VA on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette
The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA on Thursday, July 26, 2012. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette
The Barter Theatre on Main Street in Abingdon, VA on Saturday, July 28, 2012. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette
The Martha Washington Hotel & Spa along Main Street in Abingdon, VA on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette
The Tavern in Abingdon, VA on Saturday, June 8, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette
Featured Local Hikes
HIKE 1: The Great Channels
- Seven miles, in and out.
- The Channels Natural Area Preserve is a 721-acre Natural Area Preserve located just 45 minutes from Abingdon, VA.
- A 3-mile hike in on an old logging road brings you to the Great Channels of Virginia, impressive formations of 400-million-year-old sandstone outcroppings. Geologists conclude that the Channels were likely formed while the high-elevation sandstone cap was under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging during the last ice age. These forces shattered and enlarged joints in the sandstone caprock.
The hike also includes views of the Clinch Mountain range, and the remains of a fire tower (not open to the public), as well as rare and imperiled plant species protected by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
- Directions: Follow curvy Rte. 80 north from Meadowview to the small parking area at the Washington/Russell County line.
- Walk through the gate and up the fire road from the parking area.
- At ¾ mile, the fire road turns right. Stay straight on the trail, passing a cabin and picnic area in another ¼ mile. In another ½ mile, enjoy unobstructed views to the right.
- At 2 ¼ miles, reach a sandstone outcropping. Continue, following the switchbacks on the trail, reaching the Great Channels Trail to the left in another ½ mile. You will reach the summit shortly after, at 3 miles from the start of the hike. On the flat rocks is the remains of the old fire tower shelter and the fire tower itself.
- Just past the fire tower is a trail downhill into the woods to the entrance to the Great Channels, a maze of large rocks and short trails.
- For more information visit https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/thechannels
HIKE 2: The Virginia Creeper Trail, Watauga to Alvarado
- 9.6 miles total, in and out (or leave a car at the Alvarado Station parking lot for a 4.8 mile one way hike)
- The Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail is a mixed-use trail popular with bikers and hikers. This day hike includes some of the most beautiful vistas on the trail and is generally less well traveled than the “upper” section in Jefferson National Forest.
- The elevation drops slightly from Watauga Trailhead to Alvarado Station, making this an easy one-way hike or a slightly more challenging 9.6 mile round trip.
- Around Mile Marker 7, cross the South Holston River at one of the most photographed spots on the trail, Trestle #12.
- Just past Mile Marker 8, the hike ends at Alvarado Station, a reproduction of the original train station, which includes public restrooms and visitor information. Take a rest at the beautiful picnic shelter alongside the South Holston River. There is also a small café open seasonally with a limited menu of food items.
- For more information, visit https://www.vacreepertrail.org
- Club and Agency Partner Contacts that helped in decision making of the hike descriptions
Amanda Livingston, Marketing Manager, Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club
The Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club maintains 59.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail from the TN/VA line north to the South Fork of the Holston bridge, Rte. 670, in Teas, VA. The club welcomes guests on Trail work trips and recreational hikes. Visit www.mratc.org for schedule and more information.
ATC Volunteer Program
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the A.T. and assist in our visitor center and headquarters. Opportunities range from greeting visitors and providing information about local hikes to joining a Trail crew for week-long maintenance trips, gaining first-hand experience in what it takes to keep the A.T. open and enjoyable for millions each year. Learn more at appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.