Our Mail Drops for our 2015 AT Thru Hike
Due to the demand of future thru hikers asking exactly where my husband and I sent our mail drops, I’ve compiled an annotated list of the Heavenly places that supplied us with food along the trail! When resupplying along the trail we had two goals in mind: 1) getting the most calories per pound (Nate’s goal) and 2) getting the most calories per dollar (my goal).
Places in italics are where we received packages, but they didn’t contain food or “basic” supplies. They were special items we had ordered and sent to ourselves.
Hiawassee, GA- The Budget Inn
We only used this mail drop to purchase gloves when we were stranded in the motel for four days during an ice storm. The perfect gloves were something we had difficulty finding the entire AT.
Franklin, NC- Three Eagles Outfitters
We had microspikes sent here after our yaktraks wore out.
Fontana Village, NC- Fontana Lodge
This was our first real mail drop (containing food), just before the Smokies. We planned for it to last us through the park, until Hot Springs, NC (we did have an unscheduled stay in Gatlinburg when weather knocked us off the trail for a day, and we resupplied from the hotel’s breakfast….). For us, this maildrop was essential as the gas station in Fontana Village was closed since we arrived mid-week early in the season.
Hot Springs, NC- Bluff Mountain Outfitters
This mail drop wasn’t entirely needed, since the town has a Dollar General and a small market, but it was very helpful for items we had already purchased at home.
Erwin, TN- Uncle Johnny’s
Uncle Johnny’s does have a lot of resupply, but it probably wouldn’t have been exactly what we wanted or as inexpensive as I had wanted if we had purchased our supplies at the store. Bonus that the store is basically on the trail and they sell ice cream and offer picnic tables on a big front porch at which to enjoy said ice cream!
Atkins, VA- The Barn Restaurant
This mail drop was sleeping bags and a device to make blowing up our sleeping pads easier. We didn’t get any food sent to us here. Though the guide book didn’t mention it, this place charges a fee for maildrops ($2.50 per package!!!).
Pearisburg, VA- Woods Hole Hostel
This mail drop kept us from needing to go into Bland (which we did anyway because Nate’s uncle met us at the road) or Pearisburg.
Vesuvius, VA- Three Springs Hostel
We didn’t stay at this hostel because we had just had expensive stays at Woods Hole and in Daleville, but we wish we would have! The women who run it keep a very clean bunkroom and have an awesome setting just a few tenths of a mile from the AT. Even though they are so close, they came to pick us up, just so we could retrieve our boxes. They also sell some resupply that would get you by in a pinch and allowed us to go through our boxes and charge our devices on their screened-in front porch.
Tyringham, MA- Post Office
It was many, many miles for us between mail drops—from southern Virginia to Massachusetts! We were very lucky to have lots of family and friends in Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania. Without their assistance, we would not have been able to go so long without a mail drop from home. This post office is about 0.6 miles from the trailhead and isn’t used often (their hiker book goes back to 2007), but for us it was a score. Resupply spots get further and further from the trail in the north and six tenths wasn’t a bad price to pay for exactly the food and supplies we needed.
Killington, VT- Base Camp Outfitters
This outfitters is relatively close to the trail (very close for the northern AT). They sell some resupply (mainly granola bars), but were much more expensive than I would have ever paid!
We wanted to send a mail drop here, but the address in AWOL’s guidebook is wrong. Instead, our maildrop got forwarded to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, so we had to go into town to get a resupply, which isn’t necessarily walking distance (we were going into town anyway due to weather).
Gorham, NH- Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
We had three boxes here: two forwarded from Lincoln and one originally sent here. It was a lot to go through, but we were able to help out some fellow hikers who were short on food until our next resupply. The store did sell food, but again, I’m cheap.
Caratunk, ME- Northern Outdoors
Just after the Kennebec River crossing is Caratunk, with two and a half options for resupply. To the east is a hotel that boasts the town’s “only resupply” as there is no grocery for miles. We chose to go with a mail drop to the west at Northern Outdoors. They do sell a very limited resupply, but we took advantage of the mail drop, free showers and on-site brewery. The half-option is the back of the truck of the guy that shuttles hikers across the river in his canoe. His wife sets up a small resupply, but I’m not sure if she does that everyday or only sometimes.
Monson, ME- Lakeshore House and Lodging
Our last resupply, intended to get us to the end of the trail! By now we were very good at knowing what we would need and though there was a gas station, a few hostels and a general store in town, we wanted to have exactly what we desired for our last week on the trail.
Places I wish we would have sent maildrops:
Damascus, VA-We had family meeting us here and they brought us our resupply. If our family hadn’t met us there, I would have preferred a mail drop. This is a hiker-friendly town with a Dollar General, but if you want specific foods, send a maildrop. The grocery store is a bit out of town and you will walk right by several places to pick up a maildrop and go.
Harper’s Ferry, WV– We ended up resupplying at a gas station about 0.3 miles from the AT and it was a nightmare, both because they had little choice and they charged a lot. Send a maildrop to the ATC Headquarters; you’ll be going there anyway.
Delaware Water Gap, PA/New Jersey– If an option is available, send yourself something. It is true that there are plenty of “delis” in New Jersey and New York, but these are mostly gas stations that are too expensive and their stock is unreliable.
Bear Mountain, NY area– Again, if a mail drop option exists, take it. Though, I almost doubt that it does because at this point, we would have taken it!
Kent, CT– I don’t know of the resupply options in Kent because we met up with Nate’s sister. However, Kent looked like a very touristy town (similar to Harper’s Ferry), which is fun, but often overpriced. I am guessing that I would have preferred a mail drop had we not been visiting my sister-in-law.
Glenncliff, NH– This is right before the White Mountains, and though there’s a hostel that will take hikers to “town” for a resupply, all that is there is a gas station. The hostel sells some resupply for pretty reasonable prices and they have a crazy amount of gear/food in their hiker box, but I would advise a mail drop here. It would have made our stop quicker and knowing we’d be eating exactly what we wanted to as we headed into the Whites would’ve be one less thing to worry about.
There aren’t many options in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for mail drops, and the towns aren’t exactly close to the trail. Be creative, but know that at this point, if you’re headed north you want (and need!) real meals more often and if you’re headed south you appreciate the town stops to pick up little things that you forgot in the last town.
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Thanks for reading, and remember, keep it between the blazes!
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