Top of Georgia Hostel on AT Closed for Rest of 2019

Top of Georgia Hiking Center, an Appalachian Trail icon for years, closed Wednesday, May 1, until Jan. 1, 2020, for what owner Bob “Sir Packs A Lot” Gabrielsen called a break to determine whether he will continue with an “old-school hostel that seeks to educate.”

The announcement was posted on the center’s Facebook page and website Tuesday, April 30, after multiple online reports that the hostel in Hiawassee, GA, would be closing. The hostel and hiking center opened March 1, 2014, according to its Facebook page.

“TOG is closed from 5/1/19 until we RE-OPEN ON 1/1/20,” according to Top of Georgia’s Facebook page. “I will take that time for a break after 5 years / do some property fixes / and re-assess whether the trail still wants and needs an ‘old-school’ hostel that seeks to educate. At this point – it seems apparently not. We shall see. Have a great rest of the year ! You can still call for a shuttle in the meanwhile. Bob”

Hikers were quick to respond to the announcement on the center’s Facebook page.

“I can only say that the trail needs more hostels like TOG,” one person commented. “I loved my experience at TOG and hope to get back in the future.”

“Loved our time at TOG. Thank you for all you do for the hiker community!” another said.

Top of Georgia did not respond to an email from The Trek seeking comment.

Feature image from Top of Georgia website.

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Comments 7

  • Scott A Brotherton : May 2nd

    From the vibe of the statement issued, particularly “… and re-assess whether the trail still wants and needs an ‘old-school’ hostel that seeks to educate. At this point – it seems apparently not. ” It would appear they have had to deal w/some not so intelligent hikers, which is unfortunate. We need more places like this, not less…

    • J. Sutton : May 10th

      In addition to all of the legit bad reviews all over the web about how the hostel is run and managed, the hiking community uncovered evidence against the owner’s claims about being an AT thru hiker and completing the Triple Crown, that he used to lure hikers of all types to stay at his hostel. There’s a video or site out there showing where he had the ATC change his section hike to a thru hike after a few Reddit threads appeared about it.

  • TJ : May 5th

    I stayed at TOG this year, along with many other hostels and B&Bs. They are near the bottom of my list as far as hostels go. While the staff was “mostly” friendly, after the experience, its easy to understand why they are closing. In fact, myself and some other hikes just conversed about this topic a few days ago. They, and many “older” hostels are falling behind, when it comes to accommodations, upkeep and cleanliness.

    And some of their policies seem a bit hypocritical. For example (and I’m not a dog owner); they don’t allow hikers with their pets. Yet Bob converted a good quarter of the hiker common area into his own personal, private, pet cage. Seriously? That’s a double whammy to the hikers with pets. This is just one example of where they need to rethink their business model.

    I disagree with the previous comment also. This is not a hiker/intelligence issue, and the AT doesn’t need more places like TOG. These types of hostels need to update or perish.

    • Scott A Brotherton : May 9th

      It’s a hostel – not the Ritz…and you stay there by choice. It is basic Supply and demand – if enough people are offended or have issues they will simply stop coming, right ? Then they may have to do as you suggested. Most people that run hostels on the AT don’t do it for the $$$, IMHO – and there are obviously real costs involved for the Innkeeper. Sorry but I have a hard time giving much weight to mostly general comments and if I were staying there and had an issue I would raise that issue w/the Innkeeper. Not say nothing and complain about it later on a forum, where the person charged has no ability to address whatever it was you were unhappy with…
      My 2 cents…

      • Tj : May 10th

        Your giving much weight to my comment doesn’t really matter. In fact, by reading the title and the third paragraph, it’s pretty obvious that the owner/s have felt some kind of pressure from disappointed guests. And regardless of whether it’s a hostel or “The Ritz”, basic customer service and appreciation is still required for either (see comment 3, which has been echoed on the trail over and over this year). That’s especially true when they beat the “I do it for the hiker…” drums. So while the AT does need hostels, maybe they need more of the 2014 TOG, and less of the 2019 TOG.

  • Bbrett2018 : May 5th

    They’re closed because it was bullshit! They charged $.25 for a packet of FREE Taco Bell sauce! They needed to be shut down. Not only that but they treated people like scum.

    • Sir snacks alot : May 8th

      Lol that cant be real. Hahah.


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