Hiker’s Choice: 2016 Best Appalachian Trail Hostels
The Appalachian Trail has a lot of defining characteristics, perhaps none as welcome to a weary hiker as the incredible hostel community running the length of the trail. You really can begin and end your hike at hostels, as well as get fed, pampered, socialized, and shuttled at countless stops along the way. Each hostel has its own quirks and is known for different things, but thanks to our survey of past thru-hikers, we get to highlight a few that go above and beyond. Here’s how the hiker favorites stacked up, and what made them so great. We’ve listed rates as of January 2017, but all are subject to change. Unless otherwise noted, overnight rates include showers. Thank goodness.
Have a fave that didn’t make the cut? Leave it in the comments and help spread the word.
Shaw’s is either the last stop before The 100, or the first place most SOBOs Flip/Floppers stay after stumbling out of the woods. No matter how you end up there, Poet and Hippie Chick will make you feel like you belong. They are extremely accommodating for shuttles, will slack pack, and have an all-inclusive atmosphere.
Nightly rates include: $12 tenting, $25 bunk, $50 private room. On-site laundry: $5
Hiker Praise: “I received some tear-worthy guidance from Poet as he dropped us off and gave each of us a hug as we enter the 100-Mile Wilderness… and the pancakes!”
The food here comes entirely from local suppliers. The hostel itself is an organic farm, so you’ll be eating really well at the communal meals. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding hands in a circle and telling the other hikers what you’re grateful for. There’s a plethora of ready-made-food available for purchase, as well as yoga sessions for your aching hiker body.
Nightly rates include: $16 bunkhouse, linens not included. $55 private-room (hiker rate). Breakfast included with room, $9 otherwise. Dinner is $14.
Hiker Praise: “Beautiful farm with organic meals and insane strawberry milkshakes. The running joke in my trail family after that was ‘Let’s just turn around and go back to Woods Hole.'”
Donation-based hostels are a shining beacon of honesty, and we love them for that. Four Pines is located barely over a quarter-mile from from the Newport Road crossing, in a retrofitted three-bay brick garage with bunks and showers. They run shuttles to and from the Homeplace Restaurant. Be on the lookout for the Dragon Wagon… you’ll want to get a selfie with this vibrant van.
Prices: Donation-based! Pay what you can.
Hiker Praise: “Hands-down the best hostel on the planet. A lot of places on the AT are great, but Four Pines is so very laid back and kind. Joe and Miss Donna are my FAMILY.”
This classic Colonial house was built in the 1700s and can accommodate up to 20 hikers. The breakfast is enough to fill a hiker’s stomach, and the common room provides space for relaxing, watching TV, and playing music. Relax on the back porch or hang out on the lawn. The price is right too- included with your bunk is breakfast, laundry, and a resupply shuttle.
Nightly rates: $35 per bunk. Breakfast and laundry is included
Hiker Praise: “Beyond hospitable, amazing breakfast, owners are super kind. They had shuttles, laundry, and great wifi.”
This dog-friendly hostel has an extensive lawn for camping options, shower facilities, and an all-you-can-eat waffle breakfast. You can purchase soda and snacks on-location, and hikers are welcome to use the grill and kitchen. They run a daily shuttle to the grocery store… a hiker’s dream come true.
Nightly rates include: $25 bunkroom, $12 tenting, $45 cabin. On-site laundry: $5.
Hiker Praise: “Owner is laid back, fixes a great breakfast. Tenting area is comfortable, grassy and large. Snacks always available. THREE bathrooms with showers, covered porches for everyone to use.”
Located right on the main drag in this cute hiker town, Laughing Heart was built specifically to accommodate thru-hikers. Three bathrooms is a luxury, as is the wifi, kitchen access, and and plethora of board games in the living room.
Nightly rate include: $20 bunkroom, $30 single-occupancy private room, $45 occupancy private room.
Hiker Praise: “Cool place, right off the trail. Access to kitchen, chill owners, really easy walk into town.”
This bright, clean establishment has a cozy living room, a gorgeous lawn, and fast wifi. They welcome dogs (make sure to check out the dog policy) and have a well-stocked camp store for grabbing some extra food for the next section of trail. The bunkrooms are bright, spacious, and tidy and owners offer slack-packing and shuttles to the trail/ town.
Nightly rates include: $30 bunkroom, $60 private double-bed, $90 private suite. All-day coffee included.
Hiker Praise: “Serena and Justin are amazing hosts. Their wealth of knowledge and over-the-top hospitality made it stay my favorite on trail.”
You will eat well here, and be welcomed to work on their farm, which is a super cool experience. The community feel is hard to leave, and it’s right in town and within walking distance to all amenities you’ll need in town. Be aware that this is affiliated with a religious establishment, if that’s something you feel like you should take into account.
Nightly rates: Not listed, we have reached out for more info.
Hiker Praise: “Working on the farm was a cool experience, appreciated sitting in on their sabbath celebration to experience some of the culture.”
For many hikers, this is their first taste of staying in a hiker-focused establishment on the AT. This hostel employs former thru-hikers who will be eager to impart their sage wisdom on NOBOs and celebrate with SOBOs. They have a separate suite for hikers with dogs (dog beds included!), as well as gear and food available to purchase. The TOG shuttle is a common sight along this stretch of trail.
Nightly rates include: $25 bunkroom, $10 shower only. On-site laundry: $5
Hiker Praise: “Easy to deal with, welcoming, and rad people.”
Walking distance from the trail, you’ll know when you get to this beautiful farm when you see grazing goats and a footbridge over a burbling creek. This little piece of paradise is famous for their family-style breakfast, 24-hour coffee and hot chocolate bar, and hiker’s fix of farm animals. The owners are very laid back, and there are a variety of sleeping options from the bunkroom to the main house. Really though, the farm animals are the main attraction here.
Nightly rates include: $55 king bed, $25 single bed, $10 tenting. Coin-op laundry: $2.50. Breakfast: $12
Hiker Praise: “Incredible breakfast! I liked the family feel of the bunk room.”
Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn: Hot Springs, NC
Green Mountain House Hiker Hostel: Manchester Center, VT
Black Bear Resort: Hampton, TN
Hikers Welcome: Glencliff, NH
Gooder Grove Adventure Hostel: Franklin, NC
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