MacArthur Inn: A hidden AT gem
This will be a short post, but one I’m very happy to write. Very close to Woods Hole Hostel (of which I have also heard good things!), there lies a wonderfully hidden gem called the MacArthur Inn – this post is about why you should stay here when you come to Pearisburg, VA.
Two days ago, I stood on top of a mountain ridge line, dug through my pack, and found my phone. I turned it on, amazing enough had a connection (hey! hike with Verizon, not ATT – that’s all I need to say about that). I called the Plaza Motel in Pearisburg and talked to a friendly gentleman who took my name, trail name, and phone number while making a reservation for me for two nights.
Upon arriving in Pearisburg, my boyfriend met me at the trail head and whisked me into town. Mind you, this had been a 27-mile slog through hot sun and little water. I was done for the day and not in any mood for shenanigans. In town, the Plaza Motel staff informed me not only that I had no reservation, but that I couldn’t possibly have made one because no men worked at the hotel. When I heard this, I confirmed that the number recorded in my cell phone was in fact their number. Despite confirming that oh yes! you did call us AND we do have your bounce box on our floor, Plaza Motel still had no room for me. (*Side note, the proprietor didn’t check my ID when I took my box. If anyone wants free hiker stuff, you can just go there and take boxes I guess). So here I am. Tired, dirty, dehydrated, and homeless.
At this point, my long-suffering boyfriend takes me to Dairy Queen and plies me with an Oreo Blizzard. The man knows me, what can I say? We ask the women working at the DQ if they have any idea where we can stay. To this they reply that the lodge from Dirty Dancing isn’t far . . . but it’s several hundred dollars a night! Pass. Next, we turn to Yelp, which happily pops up “MacArthur Inn.” An unassuming little photo and $52/night appears on my iPhone screen and off we go in search of this place – with me admittedly expecting the worst.
Ten minutes later, we’ve driven (hikers, don’t be put off by the driving bit – I will explain!) to Narrows, VA and turn into a beautiful mansion’s parking lot. White columns and huge windows adorn the brick facade, a buggy and horsedrawn wagon sit on the lawn, and a man with an impressive handlebar mustache greets us (by happenstance) in the parking lot.
Turns out this gentleman is Allen, the proprietor. Kraig wanders in to rent the room and comes back out with a smile on his face. He says to me, “You’re going to love this place.” And I did. Reeking of all the miles between here and Damascus, clomping in wearing trail weary Lowas, and carrying a half-eaten blizzard, I am magically transported from an overbooked (overpriced) hiker trash motel into the lap of luxury. A white and black marble checked floor. A baby grand in the lobby. A verandah with wicker chairs. And a warm, friendly proprietor who asks about my hike and my trail name while simultaneously offering me a welcoming sip of lemonade moonshine. Standing in the lobby, moonshine in one hand and a cold brew offered by a friendly section hiker on the counter next to me, I couldn’t decide if the trail or the Inn was more surreal.
Upon reaching my room, the door opened onto a king size bed (with clean and matching sheets and pillows – it’s the little things!), a plushy carpet, a lovely wingback chair, table, Tiffany lamp, and a spacious (and meticulously clean) bathroom. Hikers – I have died and gone to hiker-zero-day-heaven. Now, before I go on – I’ll level with you. Because I’m here with someone, I got a real room at the Inn. Hikers, you can do that or you can ask for the hiker rooms ($45/night, bathrooms outside the rooms – but I’ve seen the rooms and the bathrooms and they’re just as clean as my room). Finally, know that even though this places looks far off the trail – Allen will do pick-ups/drop-offs at the trail heads (Cross Ave or 100). No extra walking, just call! Also, on a practical note, there is a laundromat and a grocery store within easy (less than 5 minutes) walking distance of the Inn.
On Thursday, Allen has offered to pick me up off the trail and bring me back for the jam session that happens in the Inn’s dining room. He’s also asked if I want to go meet his horses. Tonight, we have big plans with the section hiker to sit on that lovely verandah and sip some watermelon moonshine.
Obviously, I can’t promise that when you visit you’ll have the reception that I did. I don’t promise moonshine or jam sessions. However, I think it’s incredibly safe to say that you will have a warm welcome and a beauitful, clean place to lay your head for the night.
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