Hiking and Biking Trail in Mendota

Today we had three auctions in Mendota and no bidders! This was a bit depressing.

It took me back a week or so to my trip to Damascus, Virginia for a ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. I am not a person who likes to disappoint other people. I have this need to be “liked!” Ugh. I wish everyone’s feelings could be accommodated when considering a hiking and biking trail in Mendota. However, that is not possible, and it’s very difficult to see our community today and recall our community in the past when tobacco provided a sustainable family income.

If we have the opportunity to support a hiking and biking trail from Bristol to Mendota in the future and fail to do so, we are missing an opportunity to have family-owned, sustainable businesses — bike shops, river tourism and restaurants. If you live here and you have a son or daughter, this young person might have an opportunity to stay here…working and living in Mendota. Imagine. This is something we haven’t seen since Burley tobacco left our area. We will continue to have “the drain” of young people leaving unless we give them a reason to stay.

If I focus on what “could” be…I think of Damascus, Virginia. There are seven bike shops in Damascus. Here’s Adventure Damascus. I talked with “Pepper”, and Pepper told me that this is actually one of two bike shops owned by the same person. I think the other one is Sun Dog. Most of the bike shops close in November and reopen in March, but this one stays open year round. He says they work their tails off from March to November.

Adventure Damascus

I rode on the Creeper Trail twice in the past month. Most everyone I spoke with was from somewhere else. They travel over to Damascus to ride on the trail. Quite a few were also riding on the New River trail. They eat, too! I also noticed t-shirts being purchased. Those tourism dollars are sustaining these businesses. I rented a bike…it was right at $30 for the bike rental and transportation. Here’s another picture. They look pretty busy even though this was taken midweek.

Bike Shop 2

Places to eat…of course I took pictures of them!

blue Blaze Cafe

When I worked in HR at AGC’s Abingdon Plant, I used to call “In The Country” for catering. Great food. Bad picture…I took it from the car.

In The country

One of my favorite places is about 12 miles into the ride. I’m thinking bacon lettuce and tomato as I peddle into this area. It’s in Taylor’s Valley which reminds me of Mendota because there is no cell phone service. Nada.

Creeper Trail Cafe

The man who owns the Creeper Trail Cafe said that he used to rent this house out. I asked if it does a “little better” now. He laughed. He employs quite a few people, and they make fresh soup beans and cornbread as well as those great BLTs. Yum. He was so nice.

Creeper Trail Cafe

Bikes parked while people are eating..

Bikes in Grass

I remember a long time ago…more than ten years ago…when Oscar Harris asked me if I was “in” or “out” on a proposed hiking and biking trail. Definitely am out!!!

Have a great weekend. Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


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  1. It was certainly spirited last week peddling the Creeper Trail in Damascus. And the talk with locals there was, ‘not much here before the Trail breathed life into town.’ I wonder if someone would walk/bike/horseback ride me over a few stretches of what is here or nearby Mendota? Being from an area when bike trails abounded, I would love to see the area as the railroad did years ago. Seek local landowners’ permission to explore with a camera and GPS! Having an old house and barn filled with stories and age, stewardship implies being sure the edges are cared for. I do wonder what is down those paths near the river…

  2. I would so love for the trail to come thru. Not only would it provide others the opportunity to visit our lovely community, it would increase tourism to this area and possibly create jobs and financial benefit for those living in the area. I love this beautiful place and it’s a shame more people don’t get to enjoy it.

    • Thank you DeeDee…I agree!

      • Lisa Benfield Edwards says:

        Even though I have been a resident of neighboring Scott County for years now, I still own property in Mendota and I am up there several times a month. I have and always will be a firm supporter of the Mendota Trail. I worked in Damascus years ago when the “Trail” was being debated and then again when it became a reality. I understand the concerns of those who own property along the trail route. My family owns property along the trail route and we ALL support the trail. There comes a time in everyone’s lives when we need to make decisions based on the “common” good. The Mendota Trail would bring so many good things to the valley. Controlling and choosing how your area is growing and impacted by change is never a “bad” thing. Change WILL COME and if we landowners do not choose things that build up the community and positively impact our lives…changes that only impact a privileged few will be the result. After the Trail came to Damascus, of the people I talked to that opposed the trail, only one or two remained…and I talked to at least 20 or so. Most became supporters of the Trail almost immediately.
        Now every time I see someone on the road between Mendota and Hiltons, on horseback, on bikes or walking, I think how wonderful it would be if the trail were there for their safety and enjoyment. No one who lives “the country life” wants subdivisions, and trailer parks and commercial areas…but a few locally owned businesses reviving the many closed-up and abandoned buildings would be the fruits of “the Mendota Trail”. The luxury of being able to buy gas and a gallon of milk in a once bustling little town…wouldn’t it be worth a few feet of property?

    • Thank you. I agree!

  3. Kernie Timmons says:

    The trail is coming. It will drive out blight and replace it with a convenient place to exercise and enjoy God’s wonderful creation. We will all have to give a little in order to move up to the next level. Many people are ready to make the commitment and have the vision to see the rewards that are available.

  4. Additionally Eva!!
    When we get the Mendota Trail where will the druggies set up their “mobile meth labs”? (Like they did a couple of years ago on the old railroad bed near my property, check the records with the Washington County Sherif’s Department)
    Heaven forbid!! They will be forced out of the area!!
    Kernie Timmons

  5. Well since the city and county are business partners, maybe the city can give the trail rights to the county and develop it, the legal matters have already been completed by Judge Lowe ruled in favor of the trail as far as the reversionary point, it’s all clear. I think this would be a great county project- the surveys have all been completed…what do you think, there are some new supervisors running right now-now that the city has their hundred million pet project at exit 5, what about the county completing the trail for the rest of the citizens?

  6. J Shannon Nunley says:

    Eva you know I support the Trail it would turn Mendota into a Damascus and we need the support in the community I have a group that you post off support the Mendota trail. It would not turn our community into a big town but a nice community with restaurants, store, gas, and a place to run and get what you might have forgot in town.

    I feel that we need to work on this hard like I said I think most of the people who opposed it are no longer here. People just need to understand that it would help property values and bring our Medical Center, possibly Head Start and secure the library.


    • Patti Vanhook says:

      I am not a member of the community but a member by heart and would love to see the trail and of course the clinic come back to life! Keep at it Shannon and group!

  7. A trail in Mendota would be wonderful. I think about this often when I’m walking The Creeper in Abingdon and Damascus.

  8. Nancy Booher says:

    A biking trail would be just the thing to bring Mendota back. We support the trail.

  9. Janet Mosier says:

    Because the trail would not be close to our property, I’ve wondered if I had the right to support it when there was controversy several years ago. I want the best for Mendota and I believe the trail is the way to go. The Mendota Community Association is trying very hard to bring the community together and I think the trail would help.

  10. joann vicars says:

    i join the above in my support for the trail. such wonderful comments above i doubt that i can add anything to it. however if you need people down in the trenches to help make it a dream come true, count me in!

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