WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - It's a popular outdoor attraction in Southwest Virginia -- the Virginia Creeper trail is an old railroad transformed into a walking and biking trail.
But part of the trail is shut down while crews work to repair damages from Mother Nature.
Plenty of rain and snow this winter caused damage to part of the trail and the US Forest Service says the damages are creating a safety hazard. "Right now what's happened is a culvert has broken and the trail itself is in the process of collapsing above that break in the culvert," explains Beth Merz, the area ranger for the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.
The US Forest Service has blocked off a section of the trail to make repairs. "What we have to do is excavate that, dig out the old culvert and replace it with a new one and then just restore the trail," adds Merz.
The section that's closed is about three miles from Whitetop to Green Cove.
The repairs could take several weeks. Merz says she hopes to have the entire Creeper Trail open by Memorial Day.
That's good news for the bike rental companies in Damascus like Sundog Outfitter. "We had all of our vans running last week for the first time this year and we are looking for another busy weekend this weekend," adds Sundog's Pepper Schuette.
According to the US Forest Service, the Virginia Creeper Trail stretches more than 34 miles from Whitetop to Abingdon, Virginia.
We've learned nearly 200,000 people visit the trail each year.