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.


1) Shaw’s Hiker Hostel: Monson, ME


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!”

2) Woods Hole Hostel: Pearisburg, VA


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.'”

3) Four Pines Hostel: Catawba, Virginia


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.”

4) White Mountain Lodge and Hostel: Gorham, NH 


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.”

5) Woodchuck Hostel: Damascus, VA


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.”

6) Laughing Heart Lodge: Hot Springs, NC 


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.”

7) The Notch: North Woodstock, NH 


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.”

8) Yellow Deli: Rutland, VT


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.”

9) Top of Georgia Hostel: Hiawassee, GA


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.”

10) Mountain Harbor B&B: Roan Mountain, TN 


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.”

Honorable Mentions:

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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Comments 29

  • Katina : Jan 31st

    White Mountain Lodge and Hostel, Gorham, NH (all inclusive shower, laundry, breakfast) and Bearded Woods Bunk and Dine, Sharon, CT (all inclusive shuttle, dinner, shower, laundry and breakfast) should be on this list too! Also a shout-out to The Farmhouse Inn, Rangeley, Maine. As of 2016, breakfast was not included, but their sense of industrial chic style interior design was amaze-balls. They also own the Stratton Inn and hostel and, I think, have been updating the motel rooms.

  • Colin "Zen" Gooder : Jan 31st

    Great article. I just need to clarify that Gooder Grove Adventure Hostel is actually located near mile 110 in Franklin, North Carolina, rather than Tennessee. The hostel is right downtown, close to Main Street breweries, restaurants, outfitters, coffee shops, and resupply. Thanks for the honorable mention.

  • Erin Tuveson : Jan 31st

    Great list of places, hit up many of them and I was hiking with a dog!
    The Notch Hostel in North Woodstock holds a special place in my heart, the hospitality there was outstanding.
    Shaw’s is right up there too! They provided invaluable information about the 100 MW and helped out with a delicate situation regarding a drobox debacle with a local outfitter.
    Enjoyed my stays at TOG, Laughing Heart, and Woodshole hostel.
    Thanks for this stellar list!

  • Christine Taylor /Hazel : Feb 1st

    Mountain Harbour Hostel does not make my list of positive experiences for my 2016 thru hike. These people are burnt out, cold. A beautiful breakfast served with a grumpy let’s get this over with attitude, left a bad taste in my mouth.

    • "Snapshot" : Feb 7th

      Huh!? I stayed at Mountain Harbour B&B June 2015 during a section hike. Everybody was real nice and my shuttle driver (sorry, I don’t recall her name) and I had good conversation on the way to Iron Mountain Gap.

    • "Snapshot" : Feb 7th

      My stay and shuttle back in June 2015 was very nice. Did the place change owners in 2016 or what?

  • Signage : Feb 1st

    Bearded Woods in Connecticut is one the best on the Trail!!

    • Sqeptiq : Feb 1st

      Bearded woods in Sharon, Ct is awesome. $50 bucks including laundry done for you, great family style meal with Hudson and Big Lu and shuttles/slack packs all over the area. Absolutely first rate!!!!!!!!!!!

  • David "Sweeper" Edwards : Feb 1st

    Stanimal’s 323 Hostel in Waynesboro, VA was a cool place to stay. Very accommodating as far as rides around town and to and from the trail. Cheap snacks, a great shower and easy access to resupply. Also a nice place to just hang out and relax.

    • Betsy "Ziptie" '16 : Aug 3rd

      Really? Stan threw a major fit, claiming I was treating him like a taxi – I’d needed a ride to the urgent care for poison ivy, then one to get my maildrop. He then reached behind the reception desk to pull out the sign listing fees, including a suggested donation for rides, which had been hidden from view. I admit I should have been more thoughtful and offered up front, but I would have been happy to pay, if he had asked politely. As it was, I gave a ‘donation’ twice what was ‘suggested’, then shook the dust of that place off my feet. I won’t go back.

      The odd thing is that I’d all but agreed to help him out with building an app for his hostel. That died a quick death.

      I’m glad you had a better experience!

  • Sweeper : Feb 1st

    Correction: Stanimal’s 328 Hostel & shuttle Service. And thank you Adam Stanley, owner (AT 04)

  • Sqeptiq : Feb 1st

    Haven’t been to stanimals

  • Bombadil : Feb 2nd

    My faves were the Notch, the Farmhouse, Bearded Woods, and Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega. Hiker Hostel had a super pickup, sleep, hit the trail rate (no dinner but great breakfast). Also Hike Inn in Damascus with former thru hiker “Skink”.
    The most “interesting” hostels were “hiker paradise,” near Devil’s Fork and “Greasy Creek Friendly” with Ceecee.
    Another VERY nice place you left off was “Three Springs” which is a lot like Bearded Woods, but near the Priest in VA
    Great post, by the way!
    –Bombadil 2016

  • Rick Coulon "Coolio" : Feb 3rd

    In addition to Woods Hole, I really liked Three Springs Hostel (Hog Camp Gap-Hwy 60-Buena Vista). Both are really peaceful settings!

  • HikerTwin : Feb 3rd

    Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega is the best. Great accommodations, transportation services, breakfast and dog. Hiker kitchen, laundry and relaxing areas are superb. Staff is very pleasant and helpful. Can’t wait to visit again!

    • Richard : Feb 7th

      The Hiker Hostel no longer exists. They were bought out and are not an “Experimental Luxury Resort”. Prices have increased 400% in some cases. Josh and Leigh were gone, as is the cozy, homey feel.

  • Trailhound : Feb 3rd

    Hikers Welcome in Glencliff was my favorite, Packrat and Legion were awesome! I loved the huge fire ring with rock benches, and the new bunk house was amazing! Also, loved the Green Mountain Hostel in Vermont, Jeff is a great guy. Kincora is also a really special place.

  • Magpie : Feb 6th

    Angels Rest in Pearisburg is my favorite hostels for resting body and soul, and using as a home base for section hiking. THey are fairly new, having had just a half season in 2016 . But they are coming on strong, having just built their bunkhouse, which will add much bed space to the comfortable mobile home with another small bunkroom and a private room with a double bed. What sets this place apart is the friendly owners, Dr. Peppa and Bam Bam, and usually some helper hikers hanging out. They will drive you to and from the trail or the grocery or the Chinese buffet. Walking to the store or buffet is also easy. Full kitchen in the mobile home, comfortable living room, and bathroom. Lots of grassy tent space, dog friendly. They will also shuttle you many miles away or pick you up, for a fee. Close enough to town to walk.

  • Deane Giordano : Feb 8th

    Thanks for this compilation! I’m firing up my highlighter and marking them all in my trail guide.

    We stopped by to see The Notch in Woodstock, NH last summer because absolutely EVERYONE in town was talking about it and raving about it, from the folks in the bagel store to Steve, the White Mountain guru who owns the bookstore to the bear-obsessed ranger at the station–all the locals are stoked about the Notch. We didn’t stay, but it looked like a lovely place and they get bonus points for having a box full of loaner clothes you can wear while you wash all your own stuff. I’m definitely staying there before my next trek up the Kinsmans.

  • Tom Alexander "Raisin Bran Kid" : Feb 9th

    Bearded Woods was the best, other great ones Four Pines, Crazy Larry”s, Shaws, Greasy Creek Friendly, Farmhouse-Stratton, All of Ron Haven”s places, All the other trail hostels are great. The only 2 I will hike past even on a bad day Woods Hole & Mountain Harbor

    • Woods Hole : Mar 13th

      Hi raisenbrankid,
      We are sorry to read you didn’t like our place? If you could email or call us to give us feedback, we would greatly appreciate it!! We are always looking to improve!!!
      Thanks, Neville & Michael

  • Bill "Hydro" : Feb 27th

    My wife and I stayed at Top of Georgia Apr. 2016 – Was very clean – Hearty “Breakfast” was a disappointment .I understand that 2017 they offer cereal .
    Of five 2017 Thru hikers posting U Tube videos , 3 stayed at Top O Georgia , One at Gooders, and One at T.O.G. for a shower / laundry / resupply in Hiawassee then back on the trail .

    Our section hike this year we plan on stays at Mountain Harbour (jump off point ) , Laughing Heart , Uncle Johnny’s , Mtn Harbour again , Hikers Inn , Damascus , Then somewhere in Marion Va , then home.

  • ANNA HUTHMAKER : Mar 15th

    I am so confused….. How can this list not include Mountain Crossings/Neels Gap??? It is one of the oldest, most famous hostels on the whole trail. In addition, it is the only place on the AT that the trail actually goes under a roof. 🙂 And contrary to what the author writes about Top of Georgia…Mountain Crossings is THE first hiker-focused establishment on the AT when you are headed North. In fact, it is the first establishment period. First food, shower, laundry, and bed a hiker will come across.

    But the thing that makes it so special is that it is so much more than just your average hostel! The AT history here is amazing. The trees are full of boots that have traveled thousands of miles, the rafters of the store are hung with ancient packs held together with duct tape, and the walls are covered with photos of years and years worth of dreamers.
    And if you want to really have fun, peruse through the books of Polaroids taken of hikers through the years. Cindy Ross, Pirate, Baltimore Jack, Jennifer Pharr Davis….they are all there.
    These days, George and Logan own the place and are doing so much for all hikers, whether they be thru hikers, section or day. It is my absolute favorite place on the AT and should easily take the #1 spot on this list. 🙂 Anna aka Mud Butt

    • Trek Editors : Mar 16th

      This post is directly based off a survey from 2016 thru-hikers, and Mountain Crossings did not make the top 10. Thanks for your input, we think Mountain Crossings is great too.

  • farmer : Mar 31st

    Caratunk B&B, great place!

  • DeJaVu 75/03 : Aug 3rd

    I was surprised that the Cabin in Andover was not mentioned with Honey & Bear, But have not been up there in a few years.

  • Betsy "Ziptie" '16 : Aug 3rd

    So many to list!
    Shaw’s saved my life by shuttling out a pair of hiking poles after mine drowned in the river.
    Bearded Woods!
    Rock and Sole near Port Clinton
    White Mountain Hostel
    Green Mountain Hostel
    The Cabin in Maine
    Caratunk Bed &Breakfast and Hiker Hostel

  • Newbie Dan : Mar 20th

    I am relatively new to all of this, but all of my research said Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega was the best place to start my NOBO. However, I then found out it was sold last year and changed its name to Barefoot Hills. Lots of people complaining online about how expensive it had become. I was ambivalent given all of the negativity I saw, but perhaps I am fortunate that $42 didn’t seem that expensive so I took a gamble and stayed there three weeks ago. I have to tell you it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had traveling.

    It is not a “hostel” per se, but not a hotel either. I would call it a hostel+ or luxury hostel. I found the staff to be extremely nice and sincere. They shuttled me to the trail in the morning after a free breakfast.

    Quickly I discovered I was not properly prepared for my journey- I left too early in the season, and the cold/rain became too much for me to bear. I called Wes at Barefoot Hills and they came to pick me up. I stayed two more nights while I contemplated what to do. The entire staff gave me lots of good contacts, suggestions and most importantly encouragement to get back out there.

    I would nominate Barefoot Hills for inclusion on your next top 10 list. Thanks for listening.

  • WEird Vibes : Feb 11th

    Four Pines should not be anywhere near the list of the best hostels on the AT. Scary work for stays and an extremely bad environment including one bathroom for forty hikers and screaming all night long about a drug deal gone wrong. Bedbug city. I got bitten by a cat while I slept in a top bunk and my friend got stung by a wasp as she slept. Freaking rooster crowing all morning long outside the garage door. But that’s the least of your worries.


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