Rock and Roll: Geology By Bicycle - 2000 Summer Field Trip
Stratigraphy along the Virginia Creeper Trail between Whitetop Station and Damascus
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Virginia
Saturday, June 3, 2000
Trip Leader: Tony Tingle

Virginia Creeper Trail

Photos by Brad Stephenson, except where otherwise noted.


Geology Orientation at Whitetop Station

Geology orientation at Whitetop Station

Geology orientation at Whitetop Station

Geology orientation at Whitetop Station

Seventeen eager cyclists (including four "junior geologists") gather at Whitetop Station for an introduction to the local geology by Tony Tingle.

Whitetop is the topographic highpoint of the trip;
it's all downhill from here!

Geology orientation at Whitetop Station


Stop 1: Mount Rogers Formation

First stop: out come the rock hammers!

Checking out the rocks

The sedimetary and volcanogenic rocks* of the Late Proterozoic Mount Rogers Formation (Rankin, 1993) are thought to have been deposited in basins created by rifting prior to the opening of the Iapetus Ocean [(Rankin, 1975; Wehr and Glover, 1985; Schwab, 1981, 1986) as cited in Miller, 1994]. They are interpreted to have been deposited atop 1.2 to 1.0 Ga crystalline rocks of the Grenville province of Laurentia, and to have been thrust (with the underlying crystalline basement) over rocks as young as Mississippian in age (Rankin, 1993).

*Although sedimentary and volcanic in origin, these rocks have been metamorphosed to greenschist facies.


Stop 2: Green Cove and Cat Face Fault

Historical railroad equipment at Green Cove
Photo by Donna Russell

Scenic Green Cove

Checking out the rocks

Geology stop in Green Cove

Geology stop in Green Cove

Geology stop in Green Cove

Rollin' through scenic Green Cove

Another red barn in Green Cove
Photo by Donna Russell

Red barn in Green Cove
Photo by Donna Russell

The scenic Green Cove area contians the Cat Face Fault, the contact between the Mount Rogers and Konnarock Formations.

Mountain Streams

Modern wooden bridges have replaced the tressles of yesteryear, providing beautiful views of the mountain streams cutting their way downward.

The junior geologists on the trip had their own ideas about what to do with the rocks!

The view from one of many stream crossings

One of many stream crossings
Photo by Ron Russell


ETGS organized a stratigraphic bicycle tour on the Virginia Creeper Trail on Saturday, June 3, 2000. The Virginia Creeper starts in Abingdon and ends at Whitetop Station--a total length of 33.4 miles. It began as a Native American footpath and became part of the Virginia-Carolina Railroad system in 1907. Now it serves as a multi-use recreation trail.

A shuttle service (Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle Service) transported us to the top of the trail at Whitetop Station, and we rode back down 17 miles to Damascus. Blue Blaze is located in Damascus, Virginia, about 3 hours from Knoxville, Tennessee.


Tony Tingle was the trip leader for this outing. He developed the geology trail log and scouted the trail and outcrops in advance. ETGS thanks Tony for a job well done! Please contact Tony if you have any questions regarding the geology of the trip area.

Carla Sparks assisted Tony with scouting the trip route and preparing the trail log. ETGS thanks Carla, as well!

Seaira Stephenson coordinated the logistical aspects of the trip, including registrations and arrangements with the outfitter. Thanks to Seaira for making it happen!



Page updated May 19, 2018