Warm Weather Brings Early Tourism Season To Damascus

DAMASCUS, Va. - Sunday?s summer-like temperatures are pumping more dollars into one local economy.

News 5 took a trip to Damascus, Virginia where we found out the biking business is booming this spring even sooner than expected.

The great outdoors are hard to resist on a sunny day.

"We are riding from Abingdon to the top of White Top and back. [It?s] 70 miles,? said Wade Barnett, an avid bike rider.

Barnett makes a trip to Damascus about once every other month, but now he's getting more company.

"We feel like a salmon going upstream," said Barnett.

That?s because as the temperature goes up, so does the number of tourists flocking to the Virginia Creeper Trail.

"Yeah, yeah [we are] real excited! Excited to get to the top and get going!" said Vivian Thacker just moments before heading to the top of the trail.

But you'll need a bike and maybe a shuttle to get to the top. That?s giving local shops like Blue Blaze an early boost in business.

"Usually it [doesn?t] start picking up til the last of April, [or] first of May. So, everything seems like it's about two weeks early, three weeks earlier this year," said Blue Blaze owner Rick Dearmond.

While the Creeper Trail might be what brings most people to Damascus, the effects are felt far off the path.

"We'll stop at the café and maybe stop at the general store and look around and see what all they've got in there," said Thacker.

Many stop at local eatery, In The Country, to satisfy a sweet tooth after a hard day's ride.

"This time of year it really picks up as the weather is getting warmer, and more and more people are coming out and taking advantage of the Creeper Trail," said James Blevins, owner of In The Country.

Blevins said business is up about 15 to 20 percent from last year.

Thanks to a mild winter and warm spring, he's already served 3,000 to 4,000 customers.

"The biking trail is our lifeline," said Blevins.

But so are the area businesses to those taking to the trail.

"I left my pack at home with all our food and stuff so we're buying everything!" laughed Barnett, making this relationship nothing but mutual.

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