The Appalachian Trail Pub Crawl
Hiking the Appalachian Trail deprives us of many things: family and friends, hot showers, Game of Thrones episodes, the ability to be socially “normal”—things that, in the grand scheme of life, we all need to get away from once in a while. But there is one thing that most of us simply can’t survive without, something that pleases the soul as much as the taste buds, a common goal for which we are willing to put in just a few extra miles on blistered feet.
I am talking, of course, about beer.
While smuggling a few cans into your pack may stay your thirst for a short while, nothing helps take the miles off your feet and shoulders like an icy, freshly drawn draught taken in with friends at a pub.
So here is your guide to pub-crawling your way along the white blazes. Many of these watering holes are seen as landmarks on the trail; others celebrate the craft beer of the surrounding area—and a few of them move the beer from the brewery directly into your glass.
Circle the following destinations on your map or guide and prepare to take the slow path to Maine: you’ve got a lot of drinking to do.
The Rock House Lodge at Outdoor 76
Mile 109.8 – Franklin, NC
What better way to celebrate your first 100 miles on the A.T. than grabbing a cold brew at one of the best outfitters on the trail? The Rock House Lodge specializes in craft beers from North Carolina, with 12 local, seasonal, and small run beers on tap and even more in cans and bottles. The pub is located within the Outdoor 76 outfitter, so you can browse the gear selection while walking off your buzz. Thru-hikers also receive a 10% discount, saving you money for further celebrations down the trail.
River’s End Restaurant
Big Wesser BBQ & Brew
Mile 137.3 – Nantahala Outdoor Center
in Bryson City, NC
After descending over 2,000 feet into the Nantahala Outdoor Center (affectionately known as the NOC), you may need something to help take your mind off of the ache in your knees. Situated directly next to the beautiful Nantahala River, River’s End offers more than just gorgeous views: the food portions come in one size—extra large—and they have an ample supply of specialty brews, including selections from the nearby Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City proper (it’s an easy hitch if you have the time to visit).
On the other side of the river lies the Big Wesser BBQ & Brew, which offers just as many (if not more) selections of local and craft beers in an open-air deck setting. Big Wesser will often host live music as well, so grab a pint and relax to the sounds of local bands and of the Nantahala dashing between the rocks.
Smoky Mountain Brewery
Mile 207.3 – Gatlinburg, TN
Take a mid-Smokies break and head down to the Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant in Gatlinburg. Each of the microbrews here are touted for their quality, “brewed entirely without the use of chemical preservatives, additives, or pasteurization.” After a sip of one of their mainstay brews, such as the Tuckaleechee Porter, you might just understand why all the effort is worth it.
Spring Creek Tavern
Mile 274.4 – Hot Springs, NC
The A.T. wanders through Hot Springs to the doorstep of the Spring Creek Tavern, which overlooks the bubbling French Broad River. That’s not the only thing bubbling, however: the Tavern features 12 beers on tap, with over half of them brewed in North Carolina. Take a day off and let your tastebuds discover what the Old North State has to offer (hint: it’s the Mother Earth Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter).
The Damascus Brewery
Mile 468.8 – Damascus, VA
You’ve completed roughly one quarter of the A.T. and The Damascus Brewery is here to help you celebrate! Rotating a selection of 30 beers throughout the year, you’re bound to find something to help you feel at home in Virginia—which is a good thing, because you’re going to be here for a while…
The Damascus Brewery also has live music on a frequent basis, so check their performance schedule for the next time you need some tunes near the trail.
The Flying Mouse Brewery
Mile 729.3 – Troutville, VA
After descending from McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, plan a pit stop at the Flying Mouse Brewery on your way through Troutville. Their beers are labeled on a scale from “1” to “8” in regards to the darkness of the beer (with “8” being the darkest), helping you quickly decide which microbrew is right for you.
Devil’s Backbone Basecamp Brewpub
Mile 842.5 – Roseland, VA
Mark the spot for the Devil’s Backbone Basecamp Brewpub on your map right now—the road you’ll need to hitch on (Rte. 664 in Reed’s Gap) is inconspicuous, and you definitely don’t want to miss what this spot has to offer. The D.B. Brewing Company offers a kaleidoscope of microbrew options all on draft, and the food selection is outstanding. On top of that, hikers are allowed to camp on-site and can often purchase a hikers-only breakfast for $5. If that’s not enough to pull you off the trail for an evening, I’m not sure what will.
Private Quinn’s Pub
Mile 1023.4 – Harpers Ferry, WV
You’re now at the psychological halfway point of the trail, and psychologically speaking, you need a beer. Private Quinn’s Pub has locally brewed beers on tap and is situated in the middle of historical Harpers Ferry within view of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Grab a few brews and then go for a stroll through history—and be sure to stop by and say hello to the staff at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy just around the corner.
Unique Bar & Grill
Mile 1066.9 – Blue Ridge Summit, PA
Just above the Mason-Dixon Line resides the Unique Bar & Grill—pour one back in remembrance of the South as you press on toward New England. On top of a good selection of beer and reportedly excellent burgers, the Unique hosts live music regularly and collects “money in the ceiling” (literally) for charitable causes.
Boiling Springs Tavern
Mile 1121.3 – Boiling Springs, PA
You’ve officially passed the A.T. halfway point, so stop into the Boiling Springs Tavern as you pass through its namesake town. While the Tavern boasts its wine selection, it also has an extensive array of craft beers on tap. The Tavern itself is a historical beauty, originally built in 1832 and featuring a beautifully-maintained bar. The food is pricey, but after feasting on ramen and peanuts, it might be worth it to splurge on some grade-A cuisine.
The Doyle Hotel
Mile 1146.9 – Duncannon, PA
Few places are more iconic on the A.T. than the historic Doyle Hotel. Originally constructed in the 1770’s, it has burned down and been rebuilt, was purchased and remodeled by Anheuser-Busch in 1880 (and sold off during Prohibition), and has been a hiker haven for decades. The Doyle lives up to its beer-loving legacy, offering huge glasses of beer and even bigger servings of food for great prices. Even if you don’t stay the night, a stop at the Doyle is mandatory for A.T. hikers.
Port Clinton Fire Company
The Port Clinton Hotel
Yuengling Brewery (Pottsville)
Mile 1217.5 – Blue Ridge Summit, PA
The A.T. meanders by two watering holes in Port Clinton, both of which having a variety of brews. The Port Clinton Fire Company is technically a members-only establishment, but asking nicely and recognizing yourself as a hiker may convince them to give you a guest membership—and access to cheap draft beverages. The Port Clinton Hotel has a wider range of beverages and food, though they do ask that hikers bathe before entering the dining room. Having caught a whiff of my own stench after a few days on the trail, I completely understand.
If you have a day free, hitch a ride to nearby Pottsville, PA and the site of the original Yuengling Brewery, the oldest brewery in America. Free tours are available Monday-Friday all year and on Saturdays from April to December. Even if you don’t like Yuengling (for some reason), the building itself is a slice of history, surviving the Civil War and, perhaps even more dastardly, Prohibition.
The Beer Stein
Mile 1277.8 – Wind Gap, PA
One of the friendliest pubs on the trail, The Beer Stein allows hikers to pitch their tents in the field behind the building. On top of a full bar and large portions of food, nothing beats being within walking distance of your bed after a few draughts—or bring a six pack with you to keep the party going.
UPDATE: It seems that the Beer Stein has retracted its camping policy. If you plan on stopping for a pint, make sure you have another place in mind to set up camp. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…
The Deer Head Inn
Mile 1293.4 – Delaware Water Gap, PA
A final stop before exiting Pennsylvania, the Deer Head Inn is a bastion of great jazz music and fine dining. Of course, great jazz and great beer go together like hikers and granola, so pull up a stool at the bar and while away the evening to the sounds of pianos, trumpets, and clinking pint glasses.
Mile 1321.8 – Branchville, NJ
Located on the shores of Kittatinny Lake, Gyp’s Tavern is a great place to kick back and wait for the summer heat to dissipate. Hikers are welcome to charge their electronic devices and dip their toes in the lake while they sample the selections from the bar and grill.
Wits End Tavern
Mile 1346.0 – Unionville, NY
A quick walk down State Line Road in Unionville will bring you to the doorstep of the Wit’s End Tavern. Boasting darts, pool tables, ribs, burgers, and, of course, cold beer on tap, it’s a great place for a hiker to indulge in the things she or he misses out on when on the trail. If you stumble into town on Friday or Saturday, the Wit’s End hosts live music along with liquid spirits.
Mile 1467.1 – Kent, CT
The beautiful main strip of Kent, CT stands in stark contrast to the grungy appearance of most hikers, so stop in the Kingsley Tavern and drink until your shame goes away (if you don’t feel shame, drink anyway)! The Kingsley Tavern rotates a selection of craft beers on tap, and the outdoor seating ensures that passerby catch a glimpse of you in all your scraggly glory. The food here is also locally raised and delicious, so chow down before returning to the wild.
Mill Town Tavern
Mile 1569.1 – Dalton, MA
The A.T. passes by the front door of the Mill Town Tavern, so stop in and grab a brew to go with their celebrated chicken wings. Live music and trivia are frequent activities, so keep an eye on the Tavern’s Facebook page for updates on upcoming events.
Mile 1592.6 – Williamstown, MA
Your last stop for beer before stepping onto the Long Trail, The Purple Pub is just a short hitch away in Williamstown, MA. Featuring local beers from both Massachusetts and Vermont, you can get a taste of what you’re leaving behind and of what’s to come. The food is standard (and quality) pub grub fare, though prepare to taste it again if you chow down before the 1,500-foot climb up to the Vermont state line.
Ye Olde Tavern
Mile 1651.1 – Manchester Center, VT
Talk about appropriate names—Ye Olde Tavern was built in 1790, and now it presides as one of the most unique pubs on the trail. The Tavern only has two beers on tap, but one of them—the “1790 Taproom Ale”—was brewed specifically for Ye Olde Tavern by the Long Trail Brewing Company. If you’re looking for a pub experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else, you may have found the place.
Located (appropriately) near the end of the Long Trail, the Inn has become a major milestone for thru-hikers. Located amidst the beautiful Green Mountains, The Inn at the Long Trail has its own pub located inside: McGrath’s Irish Pub, which has a huge selection of beers and, reportedly, the largest selection of Irish whiskey in all of Vermont. If you thought it couldn’t get any more Irish than that, guess again: live Irish music is played every Friday and Saturday. Hikers receive special rates on rooms, and if the Inn is ever full (typically on weekends), hikers are welcome to camp in the lot across the street. The staff at the Inn definitely go that extra mile to make hikers feel welcome.
Plus, they’ll imprint the shape of a shamrock into the foam of your Guinness. Trip justified.
Salt Hill Pub
Ramunto’s Brick and Brew Pizzeria
Seven Barrel Brewery (West Lebanon)
Mile 1747.1 – Hanover, NH
Ah, the joys of a college town! With Dartmouth located nearby, there are several choices in town for the beer enthusiast.
Located literally steps away from the trail—which travels the sidewalk directly down the main strip—the Salt Hill Pub features a signature Irish flair and offers multiple craft beers on tap. Throw in traditional Irish pub grub, and you’ve found a great way to celebrate the beginning of the 13th northbound state.
A bit further down the strip lies Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizzeria, which hosts not only a full-service bar with craft beers at good prices, but also a huge variety of brick oven pizzas. Here a thru-hiker can satiate two cravings—pizza and booze—in one stop.
If you prefer your beer to be straight from the source, hitch a few miles over to the Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon, NH. Get there between 4-6 PM for $3 pints of their microbrew selections.
Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery
Mile 1799.8 – North Woodstock, NH
Before tackling Franconia Ridge, take a detour to North Woodstock to fuel up on a variety of liquid courage. First up is the double-decker restaurant and pub, Truants Taverne. Downstairs you’ll find a restaurant with a great selection of pub grub; upstairs you’ll find a full bar with everything the A.T. pub crawler needs. Keep an eye on the Taverne’s event calendar for deals and activities.
If you plan on taking a longer break from the Whites, however, the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery is a must for beer enthusiasts. From ales to porters, the Woodstock Brewery has microbrews for every occasion—take the $9 tour (at noon every day) and receive a pint glass and tastings of each beer. Grab a room on-site and keep the party going until the mountains call you back.
Libby’s Bistro & SAaLT Pub
Mile 1869.8 or 1890.9 – Gorham, NH
Your time in the White Mountains is drawing to a close; head to Libby’s Bistro in Gorham to drown those tears in a locally-brewed beer. Another double-decker, the SAaLT Pub lies below the restaurant and features a wide array of beers on tap. This is one of the last dedicated pubs near the trail for almost 100 miles, so grab an extra pint before you head out.
Sarge’s Sports Pub & Grub
Mile 1968.8 – Rangeley, ME
Located within throwing distance of Rangeley Lake, Sarge’s Pub provides the essentials for relaxation while taking in the beautiful Maine scenery. Sarge’s food selection is one of the purest signs of being in Maine, as almost everything comes with a lobster option.
Wolf Den Bar at the White Wolf Inn
Mile 2001.0 – Stratton, ME
The White Wolf Inn not only provides food and shelter to hikers seeking refuge in Stratton, it also has the most appropriate name for its on-site pub: The Wolf Den. Despite being secluded in the Maine backcountry, the Wolf Den doesn’t skimp on the beer selection, having several microbrews on tap at prices that even money-strapped thru-hikers can afford. The end is growing nigh: enjoy those beer calories while you’re still walking them off every day.
Kennebec River Pub & Brewery
at Northern Outdoors
Mile 2038.0 – Caratunk, ME
After fording the Kennebec River, hitch a ride up highway 201 to the Northern Outdoors Resort. The NOC of the north, Northern Outdoors hosts a multitude of outdoor activities for adventurers visiting Maine’s backwoods, including camping, whitewater rafting, and snowmobiling. Those outdoor activities also include drinking, by the way—patrons can relax in a nearby hot tub while sipping microbrews crafted directly on-site. If you decide to stay and enjoy the libations, hikers receive a 25% discount on rooms.
Lakeshore House Lodging & Pub
Mile 2074.7 – Monson, ME
Kick back and prepare yourself for the last stretch of the trail at one of the most scenic pubs on the A.T., nestled on the shore of Lake Hebron. The Lakeshore House has a full bar with local beers on tap, as well as a full menu with a smorgasbord of options—including fresh sushi, if you time your arrival correctly (see their website for announcements). The Lakeshore House also functions as a hostel and delivery service, as they will deliver a food drop to you at certain logging road crossings in the 100-Mile Wilderness. If you take advantage of this service, make sure to include a few bottles of your favorite brew—there are no more pubs until you reach the end.
Blue Ox Saloon
Mile 2189.2 – Millinocket, ME
Whether you’re beginning your hike to Georgia or just cemented your status as an official thru-hiker, Millinocket has two watering holes to help you celebrate the beginning/end of your adventure. Both establishments offer some craft selections alongside mainstream beers, and while the Blue Ox has some traditional pub grub, the Scootic In also functions as a full-fledged restaurant, offering a full Maine lobster dinner and other feasts. Best of all, these two venues are located directly across the street from one another, so you can stroll/stumble across the street if you feel like a change of scenery.
Have you visited any of these pubs during your trek? Which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments. Also, the collective love of beer means that new pubs are popping up along the A.T. fairly frequently, so let us now if we missed one of your favorites.
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Thank you. Thank you so much.
Thanks for the info! I recognize you…I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog about your AT thru-hike!
Love the list. The Long Trail Brewery itself is within hitching distance of Killington/Inn at the Long Trail. Rutland VT, has a brewery/pub – Hopn Moose. Bennington VT has Madison Brewery – great beer and even better food. What about the tap rooms up and down Shenandoah? Not hitching to Ashevile, NC from Sams gap is almost a gastronomic crime.
Very similar to an idea I’m working on about town/bar etiquette along the trail! I remember shuttling you last year in Port Clinton/Hamburg. Glad to see you’re still involved in the community, Yo Teach!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Beer Stein no longer allows hikers to sleep in the area behind the bar!!! I found out the hard way. Don’t walk the mile or so into town expecting to stay. -Still Thinking
Thanks for the info, S.T. I will update the article to reflect this.
Unfortunately I had a bad experience at the Spring Creek Tavern in Hot Springs NC. After section hiking from I-40 we stopped in to grab a beer and the wait staff avoided eye contact and never came to our table. Maybe they were burnt out on low tipping hikers, I don’t know, but after a good 15 mins we got up and walked next door to the barbecue joint where the local drafts were $.50 cheaper and the staff was more welcoming.
I have been lucky enough to hit spring creek tavern with the section hike i did. Simply amazing, downhome comfort feeling that you get when you sot down at the bar. Live music was going on a couple dogs hanging out. Beers being poured heavily and a cery welcoming crowd. They love hikers and well i love that. I had quite a few local brews as well as the AT burger. Got a tavern tank top and walked to the laughing heart hostel which is another amazing very friendly spot. Both these places i highly recommend
Thanks so much for this! I’ve been painfully trying to fill in my daily planner with local brews and pubs along the trail for my flip-flop this summer. So, thanks for saving me some time!!
According to their FB page, the Mill Town Tavern is no longer in business (as of 6/30/15). Glad I stopped in while they were still open!
I conceive this web site has got some rattling wonderful information for everyone :D.