The Best Towns to Send Mail Drops on the Appalachian Trail
Amongst thru-hikers, there is little-to-no agreement about the number of mail drops to send. Some will send dozens, others prefer not to send any. I side with the latter ideology and explain this rationale here: “How many mail drops should you send on the Appalachian Trail?” The article both outlines why I think it’s better to send fewer mail drops as well as the exceptions to this rule.
Sending mail drops often translates to buying and shipping yourself groceries before your hike instead of buying groceries during your hike. It sounds dumb, and in most situations, it is. There are a few spots on the Trail however that have limited and/or expensive resupply options. It is these locations where one can actually save some money and/or not be forced to eat trail mix and Cheetos for three consecutive days.
If you are going to send mail drops, below are the towns that are the most beneficial to do so.
The Best Towns to Send Mail Drops on the Appalachian Trail
1) Nantahala Outdoor Center (The NOC)
Where to send your mail drop: NOC Outfitters (13077 Hwy 19W, Bryson City, NC 28713)
Although a hiker favorite for a place to kickback and drink a beer (mine as well), the NOC resupply options are limited and over-priced, and chances are you’ll probably end up spending more than you’d like at one of their restaurants. This would be a good location to send a small mail drop. Fontana Dam is only 27 miles up the Trail. And speaking of…
2) Fontana Village
Where to send your mail drop: Fontana Lodge (ATTN: Front Desk, 300 Woods Dr., Fontana Damn, NC 28733)
You will need to resupply at Fontana Village since it’s on the southern border of the Smokies. Your only option to resupply in town is at the General Store, which has a moderate selection, but is expensive (because it’s the only option and resupply is necessary). Plan to send 3-4 days worth of food if stopping at Gatlinburg or 7 days if walking all the way through.
3) Bland, VA
Where to send your mail drop: Post Office (Bland, VA 24315) or Big Walker Motel (for guests only) (70 Skyview Lane, Bland, VA 24315)
Although AWOL’s 2014 Guide lists a Dollar General, Bland was one of towns the 2013 thru-hikers most recommended sending a mail drop to. Garrett Fondoules adds that it was it was, ” greatest resupply disappointment”.
4) Harper’s Ferry, WV
Where to send your mail drop: ATC HQ (If sending USPS, send to PO Box 807, otherwise send to 799 Washington St., Harpers Ferry, WV 25425)
Harper’s Ferry is quaint, beautiful, and the unofficial halfway point on the AT. It’s also one of the more difficult resupply locations. The options at the Outfitter and Town’s Inn are pricey, and your only other option is a 7-11 a short hitch away.
5) Caratunk, ME
Where to send your mail drop: Post office (Caratunk, ME 04925)
Again, although AWOL’s Guide lists Berry’s General Store and The Sterling Inn, Caratunk was one of the towns the 2013 thru-hikers had the most trouble with. Kyle Bizzle says “Caratunk has nothing”. James Limey Parker says “Caratunk is crap.” You get the point.
6) Monson, ME
Where to send your mail drop: Lakeshore House – $5 fee for non guests (If sending USPS, send to PO Box 215, otherwise send to C/O Lakeshore House, Monson, ME 04464), Shaw’s Lodging – $5 for non guests (If sending USPS, sent to PO Box 72, otherwise send to 17 Pleasant St., Monson, ME 04464).
Like Fontana, Monson requires a heavy resupply as this is the southern border of the 100-mile wilderness. A very worthy alternative to sending yourself a mail drop here is to resupply at Greenville (a short hitch or shuttle ride from one of the hostels) which provides much better options.
There are others that could be added to this list (Neels Gap, Standing Bear Farm, Delaware Water Gap, Salisbury, Glencliff, and more) but these are the six I feel present the biggest challenge in terms of not offering a convenient alternative. Less is more.
As always, we are listening. Let us know in the comments below if we missed any essential mail drop locations. Also recommended, check out Baltimore Jack’s resupply guide here. Some of the information has changed since he wrote it in 2007, but it still presents a great overall picture for resupplying on the AT.
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is Stratton, ME any good for resupply?
What about south bound mail drops?
https://www.soruck.net/at/ has a pre-made label to print out based on locations along the AT. Highly recommend it for section and thru-hikers.
Six mail drops for the entire 2,000 mile trail. Really?
How early is too early for a mail drop? I would prefer to resupply during the hike, but understand some points may not be equipped to provide needed supplies.
this is the Glencliff, NH post office. We are directly across the street from Hikers Welcome hostile. Send your supplies addressed to Hikers Welcome, Box 25, Glencliff, NH 03238. Put your ETA if possible. All packages mailed this way will be waiting for you at the hostile.
Please add the address for Glencliff, NH to your list: NAME/c/o Hikers Welcome/PO Box 25/Glencliff, NH 03238. The hours at the post office are 12:OO -2:00pm m-f Saturday 7am-1pm. If they address their packages in this way, the hostile will pick up their packages and they will be available for pickup there. Please have them put an ETA if possible. Thanks Deb Dickmann/Postmaster, Glencliff, NH
Do you have to ask each of these locations for permission to send packages and is this list up to date?
Do these towns work for a SOBO thru-hike?
A tip I’m sure listed elsewhere, do not for any reason prepack and SEAL your mail drop boxes, assuming you have a reliable person who can adjust the contents before shipping. There will be food & other items that sound good at home, but weeks down trail , , , , let’s just say I can’t stand to even look at a Belvita after my 2016 section. I absolutely LOVED them are hike! Wingfoot felt the same about banana chips.
Do be sure of the reliability of your support person!!! Be sure to update them often, AND give them at least a week heads up “I’ll ba at XYZ in 8 days, please take out item ABC & replace it with MNOP! THANK YOU!!”
See you down the trail!