Top of Georgia Hiker Hostel to Reopen as Around the Bend
The iconic AT hostel Top of Georgia, which closed its doors in May 2019, is reopening under new ownership with the name Around the Bend. Gordon and Lisa Simmons purchased the hostel in January 2020 and have been renovating it ever since.
Around the Bend is open now in a partial capacity. Guests can stay in one of two private bedrooms with shared common areas or rent the whole house through Airbnb. The Simmonses plan to have additional cabins and guest rooms available by March 2021 in time for hiking season.
Rooms and Amenities
“We’re not going to have it the same way where they had a bunch of bunk beds,” said Gordon Simmons of the differences between Top of Georgia and Around the Bend. “We’re going more toward private rooms.” Still, the Simmonses say they will cater to Appalachian Trail hikers. An eight-bed bunkhouse will be available for rent, bringing the hostel’s total bed count to 22, although the pandemic may impact whether and how the bunkhouse will be rented in the near term.
Hikers can also set up their tents on the National Forest land bordering the property and pay separately for showers and laundry at Around the Bend starting next spring. The hostel will have wifi and potentially offer a shuttle service (details forthcoming).
Gordon Simmons says they will not be operating a resupply store because they don’t want to take business away from the town of Hiawassee. The hostel will be dog-friendly, with pooches allowed in some cabins and the bunkhouse.
From Top of Georgia to Around the Bend
Located within walking distance of the Appalachian Trail near Hiawassee, Top of Georgia was popular among northbound hikers. The establishment operated a popular shuttle service connecting the trail, the hostel, and Hiawassee. The hostel closed in May of 2019 after five years of continuous operation.
Gordon Simmons said he and Lisa have lived in the area for years and often drove past the hostel. When it closed last year, they talked about buying the hostel someday if it was ever for sale. They’re avid hikers, kayakers, and rafters and loved the idea of owning the establishment. So when the property came on the market this January, they leaped at the chance. They’ve been busy renovating ever since: replacing floors, upgrading the plumbing, repairing walls and ceilings, and replacing mattresses.
“I freaked out when we bought it and then everything shut down,” Gordon laughs, recalling how coronavirus restrictions came into effect shortly after he and Lisa bought the property. “Like, ‘crap, what did I just do to us?'” However, the upgrades to the property progressed. The Simmonses are now looking forward to opening in a greater capacity next spring. “We’re looking forward to meeting people and looking forward to the 2021 hiking season.”
They announced on Facebook last weekend, “formerly known as Top of Georgia Hostel and Hiking Center, we are Around the Bend from the Appalachian Trail at Dicks Creek Gap! We are currently accepting reservations via Airbnb and will open in a larger capacity around March for the 2021 hiking season.”
All images, including featured image, courtesy of Gordon Simmons.
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