Some of the Best (and Worst) Places to Stay on the AT
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is expensive for even the most frugal hiker, so picking the best hotels and hostels to spend money on is important. Following is a list of some of the best (and the worst) places I stayed at during my thru-hike. Keep in mind, there are tons of options along the trail and I only stayed at a handful of them. I’m sure there are plenty of great hotels and hostels that are not included.
Note: The following is the opinion of the author and not Appalachian Trials at large.
Related: The Top Hostels on the Appalachian Trail
Standing Bear Farm (Hartford, TN): This place isn’t on the list because it’s particularly nice, but because it’s an adventure in itself. The farm intentionally looks like a hillbilly’s playground. There are little shacks along the property, chickens and dogs running around, and bonfires set up. It has a decent resupply on site, the most amazing hot outdoor shower and laundry (however, the washer is an antique scrubbing board, so unless you have a lot of time I’m not sure how clean your clothes actually get).
Mountain Harbour B&B/Hiker Hostel (Roan Mountain, TN): I didn’t actually stay at this hostel, but I did stop for a shower and was very impressed. The hostel is in a barn outside a beautiful B&B. The property is picturesque Virginia, with a stream running through it and horses in the fields. While I didn’t get the breakfast because it was a little pricey, it smelled absolutely delicious and got great reviews from other thru-hikers.
Holy Family Hostel (Pearisburg, VA): This was the most unexpectedly amazing place I stayed. It’s a little off the beaten path, but well worth the hitch. Though the hostel was perfectly clean, we camped just because the scenery was so beautiful. It’s stocked with books and games, and Walmart is just a short walk away.
Upper Goose Pond Cabin (Massachusetts): Two words: blueberry pancakes. The caretaker will make you coffee and blueberry pancakes in the morning, which is reason enough to visit. But it’s a beautiful cabin with canoes you can take out and a dock you can hang out on.
Shamrock Village Inn (Dalton, MA): This inn is family owned and operated and very appreciative of the business thru-hikers generate for them. They are extremely friendly, and even hugged us goodbye. They also may be the bravest people along the trail, as they wash hikers’ clothes for them. The rooms are very affordable, clean and homey.
Green Mountain House (Manchester Center, VT): This hostel is immaculate and has one of the best reputations along the trail (along with the White Mountains Lodge & Hostel in Shelburne, NH, which I didn’t stay at but heard was very nice). It offers shuttles, private rooms, kitchen use and laundry. It sits on a beautiful property with horses in the backyard. The caretaker is very nice and often comes out to chat with guests.
White Wolf Inn (Stratton, ME): This place has character. It’s not the nicest place on the list, but it’s very hiker friendly. It also has a restaurant on the first floor that’s home to the Wolf Burger, a delicious and affordable (but not so difficult) hiker challenge.
(I hesitate to list any business that relies on hikers, but the couple listed below are truly terrible and hikers should be warned.)
Fort Bastian (VA 615): I didn’t actually stay here, but had a run in with the owner that made me boycott it. I had a very poor interaction with TruBrit at Trail Days. He’s the only person I met on the trail that made me feel very uncomfortable.
The Gateway Hotel (Wind Gap, PA): This is the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The room looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in days, possibly weeks. There were hairs and stains on the pillows and the sheets, dirt all over the floor and trash everywhere. When I confronted the employee, she refused to admit the room was dirty but eventually gave me one clean sheet to sleep on. We slept in our sleeping bags and left as early as possible the next day.
image source: trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=108256&back=1
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I thought Woods Hole was crap. Yes it’s got a lot of eye appeal but when I stayed they were having issues with the water so we couldn’t wash clothes or shower and they weren’t willing to discount our stay because of it. The food was mediocre at best, sorry but I can cook potato soup on the trail, though the pork was delicious being farm raised and all but they didn’t even wanna cook that until we all said we weren’t paying $13 for a meal with no meat. Further there is no WiFi as the awol lists and they told us no work for stay but had no problem passing out chores to do after you have paid. I was rather disappointed something tells me it has gone down hill since changing hands. Personally I thought 4 Pines was a much nicer hostel.
Luke, I had the same impression in 2011.
2 more suggestions for best: Free State hostel, Smithsburg MD, and Appalachian Trail Lodge, Millinocket.
TruBrit and Fort Bastian was one of my favorite places I stayed at on the AT. He picked me up and dropped me back off at the trail, took me into town for resupply and cooked breakfast, and since I was hiking alone all he asked for was a donation. He also let Hump setup his nonprofit, The Hiker Box, at Fort Bastian for free. He’s rough around the edges and can be crude, but he’s a great guy and helps hikers in any way he can.
White Mountains Hostel was my favorite by far. It was clean, great breakfast, and I felt like I was at home again. So many people took an extra zero there because it was so hard to leave such a wonderful place.
Hikers Welcome Hostel was my least favorite. It was so dirty and the beds in the outside bunk room were filthy and it was filled with mosquitoes. I was so disgusted by the place I decided to hike over Moosilauke instead. The folks there were really nice and helpful though, I’ll give them that.
Hikers Welcome Hostel now has a new post and beam bunkhouse that is huge, with new mattresses, and is very clean and spacious. it is way different than their old overflow area, one of my favorites.
I’ve heard negative things about Fort Bastian as well. They broke a promise to the hikers to get them back on the trail at the time they promised. (promised on the trail by 7 am, weren’t back on the trail until 10 am) They were offered these things when they were all ready to set up camp at a shelter. The owner showed up at the shelter to offer these things to them. Didn’t happen. They were promised as many pancakes as they could eat & as much coffee as they could drink… that didn’t happen either. They had some coffee & a few pancakes that a hiker staying there ended up making for herself & other hikers. Owner was too hung over to do it himself. The noise from partying hikers & owner kept them up at night too. Noise travels far in the woods, so you can’t really tent far enough away not to be bothered with the noise. Just passing along info that I was told from other hiker’s stay there.
Woods Hole is awesome!
I heard the best place to stay in Wind Gap is the Red Carpet Inn. Don’t bother staying any where else in Wind Gap is the word on the trail.
Green Mountain House- heard nothing but good things about that place.
Mountain Harbour- Have heard nothing but good things about that place too.
Upper Goose Pond Cabin- Heard good things about that place.
Mohican Outdoor Center- We stayed there. If you don’t have your own shampoo, soap or towel is a rip off to stay in one of their cabins. None of that is provided for the $35 per person night stay there. We had to buy all those things separately & carry the $20 towel they sell you as well. SMH. Tenting is a much better deal, IMO. They let you use a towel with your shower for 5 bucks. Deal!
Wow, sounds like things have changed in the last couple of years. In 2011, Standing Bear was our worst experience. The staff was drunk, the place was a mess and the resupply was inadequate. We even called the week before and asked about resupply and were assured they had plenty. Most items were expired or the mice had gotten into it. We loved Bears Den, Mountain Harbor, Green Mountain House, and Hiker Hostel the most.
Mountain Harbor’s breakfast was absolutely not overpriced, it was hands down the best meal I had on the trail and worth each one of the $12 I spent there!
Mountain Harbor may have been the best breakfast of my entire life. Mary is up at 4 am making a feast for those lucky enough to choose to indulge. I spent two days here, just so I could eat breakfast a second time.
Whatever you do – unless you enjoy getting lost, and being verbally assaulted by the owner with language I will not repeat here, do not stay at the 100 Mile Wilderness Outfitters in Monson Maine. I took my 73 year old (very fit) mother to section hike the trail where her father surveyed in 1925, it was supposed to be the trip of her lifetime – instead it turned out to almost cause her to collapse, we arrived at the cabins and unloaded into one of the larger areas that we paid for almost 6 months prior – it smelled like cat pee, but we were willing to overlook so that she could have the experience. The owner Phil decided to not be there when we arrived so we were greeted by a 20 something shirtless boy chopping kindling, we thought we would do a short 2 hour hike to see the area. Not far, but to see the nearby lake. The young man (even though we said we were not familiar with the area) said take “Woody” the camp dog he takes hikers to the lake all the time. Yes we should not have trusted him, but we did, we were lost for 5 hours and no one came looking for us. We ended up having to hike 8 miles, at 6 I told my mom to stop that I would find the camp and come pick her and my sister up – she was not doing well. I ran 2 miles with “Woody” to find the cabins, which I luckily did. When we arrived this Phil who I thought might be concerned we had been gone for so long – started yelling at me with the F word and other horrible insults about how I took his dog without telling him and that I needed to give him time to “cool” down. At which time I explained we had just been lost for hours and he didn’t care – I told him I had to drive and find my sister and mother and that we would not be staying. By the time I returned he’d left a refund in cash on my bed like I was paid for the horror of him accosting me. It felt like a payoff so I just gathered my stuff left the money and took my sister and my mother who was pale and shaking and we left. The site will be fine I am sure for thru hikers who need a spot to crash, but unless your a “real hiker” and male – don’t expect to be treated respect or taken care of. So incredibly sad and let down.
Every, and I do mean EVERY rock, root, mountain, hostel & etc is someone’s favorite AND someone’s most hated!
In 2 trips I stayed a total of 4 days at Woods hole, hated to leave both times. (2015 & 2016)
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