Jennifer Pharr Davis Opens New Store and Bunkhouse in North Carolina
If you’ve been around the thru-hiking community for a minute, I’m sure you’re aware of Jennifer Pharr Davis. She’s an inspiring thru-hiker, FKT record holder, author, speaker, mother, and business owner.
I recently chatted with Jennifer to learn more about the store and bunkhouse she opened earlier this spring as an extension of her 11-year-old business, Blue Ridge Hiking Company, in Asheville, NC.
Blue Ridge Hiking Company
As Jennifer developed her thru-hiking resume by completing the AT, PCT, and numerous other long-distance trails, she realized that she loved educating and helping people get outside. “I found a niche,” says Jennifer. “People wanted help and they wanted guides.” Thus the Blue Ridge Hiking Company was born.
Blue Ridge Hiking Company started as a one-woman show and now employs ten skilled guides and leads approximately 1,500 people per year on trails around their region of North Carolina.
The Gear Store
All Blue Ridge Hiking Company guides are experienced thru-hikers who sport lightweight gear. Over time, clients began to notice the specialized gear and asked guides for more information. Guides would happily answer the questions and point clients to the brand’s online store.
As the interest in lightweight gear grew, Jennifer had another idea: start a brick and mortar shop. “The concept was to pick the best lightweight gear on the market and sell it,” says Jennifer. “Ideally, someone can come in and get fully outfitted for a long-distance hiker with the best gear.”
Really, the idea was sparked by the feedback and questions from her clients. “People that we’ve worked with have given us the best ideas,” she says.
The store is located at 70 College St. in downtown Asheville and is open seven days a week, 2-6 p.m. They are also available by appointment for private gear fittings and instruction. Call 828-713-5451 for more information.
As the Blue Ridge Hiking Company started to grow, so did Jennifer’s need for some additional space. Her basement wasn’t quite cutting it anymore for holding gear and hosting clients. “We had been looking for land near the Appalachian Trail and found a half-acre plot with a double-wide right off the trail near Hot Springs,” she says. “It was perfect.”
The 1,600+ square foot double-wide was transformed into the Trail-er, a ten-bunk bunkhouse. It serves as the basecamp for Blue Ridge Hiking Company guided trips and is also available for thru-hikers, backpackers, trail runners, and paddlers for $45 per bunk. Not only can you reserve a place to stay, but you can also rent gear from the Trail-er, get food and/or meal plans, and schedule a shuttle service to and from the trail. You’ll be equipped with everything you need for a backpacking trip/hike. All you need to do is show up! By launching the bunkhouse Jennifer wanted to “serve the community of Hot Springs, as well as the hiking community.”
The bunkhouse is located in Hot Springs, NC, right off of the Appalachian Trail. It is open Thursday afternoon through Tuesday morning. Call the caretaker, Murphy, at 828-713-5451 for more information, to make a reservation, or to schedule a shuttle. Online reservations will roll out this fall.
The goal of launching both the store and the bunkhouse was to help “empower people who have never experienced the trail,” says Jennifer. She understands that not everyone can do a full thru-hike, so her mission is to make the trail accessible for everyone.
Blue Ridge Hiking Company can help improve people’s long-term experiences, whether it’s by educating them on lightweight gear, guiding them on their first backpacking trip, or exposing them to local highlights of the Appalachian Trail.
Check out blueridgehikingco.com for more information about Blue Ridge Hiking Company, the store, and the bunkhouse.
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