Total Eclipse a Boon for AT Hostels in the Off-Season

A rare total solar eclipse crossed a small band of the US from Texas to Maine on Monday. This narrow strip, home to 30 million people and a small section of the Appalachian Trail, experienced an influx of visitors hoping to catch totality.

The path of totality intersected the Appalachian Trail in northern Maine, starting near NOBO mile marker 1940 after Grafton Notch and continuing northeast over Katahdin. Baxter State Park had annual spring closures in effect on eclipse day. Other parts of the region, however, saw an influx of visitors leading up to and during the eclipse.

Hostels and other businesses in the path of totality saw an uptick in visitation as people flocked to the region for the event. Hostel of Maine, near AT northbound mile 2009, reports being fully booked on Sunday night despite the thru-hiker bubble being months away from the area. The demand for lodging was so great that people were even car camping in the hostel parking lot.

In winter, the popular hiker hostel serves skiers visiting the nearby Sugarloaf Ski Resort. One worker at the hostel said that they’d encouraged guests to arrive early on Sunday to avoid traffic. This turned out to be prescient. What is normally a 20-minute drive from Sugarloaf to Kingfield, the nearest town, took up to three hours on Monday.

In New Hampshire, popular AT hostels were just outside the path of totality but still near enough to experience increased bookings. This is atypical for the region at this time of year. April is the usual start of mud season, prompting closures in preparation for the summer hiker season.

The town of North Woodstock, New Hampshire saw increased traffic all weekend from eclipse visitors, and the local hiker hostel, the Notch, was booked out two weeks in advance. Many guests arrived days before the eclipse, eager to beat the crowds. The Notch was just south of totality with 98.9 percent coverage.

With winter still clinging to the White Mountains, hostel manager Tricia spent much of the weekend fielding questions from guests and travelers about the best local spots to view totality with minimal risk.

As Seen From the AT

Early season hiking in the White Mountains presents unique challenges and fast-changing conditions. Despite this, parts of the range such as Mount Cabot and Roger’s Ledge drew crowds of hikers eager to view totality.

Most AT thru-hikers are between southern Virginia and Georgia right now and got to experience a partial eclipse. While they were not impacted by the rush of visitors that towns in the path of totality got, some took the time to pause, celebrate, and enjoy the phenomenon.

Spark, a 2024 Trek blogger, stopped on Mount Possible near Stecoah Gap, North Carolina with their trail family to view the partial eclipse. Spark picked up eclipse glasses at Outdoor 76 in Franklin, North Carolina and passed them around among the many hikers who chose to stop and join them.

Trek blogger Griff writes about witnessing the eclipse from near Bake Oven Knob Shelter near Palmerton, PA. Per his blog, “walking through the woods as the eclipse went over 90 percent was a surreal experience! The combination of clouds and reduced sunlight turned the woods to dusk-like lighting, the wind completely died, and everything was quiet.”

North America won’t experience another total solar eclipse until 2044. That one will pass through Alberta, British Columbia, and Canada’s Northwest Territories before entering Montana and North Dakota.

If you’re hoping to experience totality sooner, a total eclipse will pass through northern Spain on August 12, 2026. Parts of the Camino de Santiago will experience totality, offering hikers and pilgrims the chance to view the celestial event from the trail.

Featured image: pedrik

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