View Full Version : Opening A Hostel on the MST
Hello! I live 500 yards off the MST trail about 11 miles north of the HWY 16 and Blue Ridge Parkway intersection. I'm opening up a backpackers hostel next summer. Can also give shuttle runs into West Jefferson usually - they have a good outfitters shop there and walmart, grocery stores, etc. Just figured I'd pass it on
BTW, I'm going to post more information as I get it all set up....
If anyone wants to camp in the yard this summer, I don't mind letting them. Email me at: mark @ ronininvestments.com won't have much set up, might have a dry barn for you to sleep in. If we're around, top off your water, hang out on the porch, etc.
Thank you so much for providing a such needed service to this up and coming trail. Let me know if I can help spread the word.
Yup, as soon as I get it set up a little more and know more details, I'll get yall some more details. I'm going to clean out the barn behind the house - it's a really sturdy, dry, 2 story barn I'm going to turn into a bunkhouse. If I get it done well enough, I'll let people use it as a shelter this summer.
I believe Taba, a fellow Whiteblazer wrote a trailguide for the MST. He may be able to let you know how to advertise your offering. Here is one link I found for the guide:
Yea, I talked to him via email last night. Supposed to call him today.
Ok, got a question. I'm putting together a list of stuff I need to get done / get / etc. for the hostel. Since I've only stayed at a hostel once and only done a couple long backpacking trips, what would you want to have available at a hostel? IE, accommodation, services, basic backpacking items available to sell. I am going to be on a pretty strict budget getting all this together, other than the basics. Going to have a bunkhouse, one or two private bedrooms, a bathroom, BBQ grill, picnic table, and if I can pull it off, a basic kitchen for hiker use. I can sometimes give rides into West Jefferson, about 15/20 minutes away which has walmart, grocery stores, and a full outfitters. What else would be good (and cheap) to offer? Also, what basic items would be good to have for sale - I was thinking socks, basic hiker food (candy bars and some basic stuff like ramen and such), etc.
Start with the basics you listed: bed, shower, self serve kitchen. I wouldn't recommend much at first in the way of gear and clothes sales mainly because the MST is still almost entirely section hikers, they don't have time to wear out or break down gear. No use in tying up your cash yet.
You are close to the trail and offering parking and maybe shuttle to trail heads will help those that want to give the MST a try.
Start with snacks and convenience foods, maybe some frozen stuff if you have space and equipment (freezer and microwave).
Have the three types of fuel available, for those that need refills and those that forgot.
Start slow, see what the need is.
Good luck and welcome.
Yea, I'm not putting much into gear. Figured socks might be helpful, and I use them enough personally, lol. Yea, I'm going to get a freezer w/ misc. food for sale and microwave for sure - I can always eat the food myself if it doesn't sell. And was thinking of offering a shuttle to the AT or other trailheads. Good idea on the fuel though. Didn't think of that.
My main goal is getting the basics though.
Hikers will look for a washer/dryer to use. You can sell or offer free detergent.
You may wish to offer slackpacking so hikers can spend a second night with you. If you decide to go with this option be sure and charge the appropriate amount for the shuttle. Gas and maintenance on your car/truck is expensive and you will want to more than cover your costs.
Definitely don't be like Uncle Johnnys in Erwin, and try to sell a whole line of supplies that are way over priced. Be simple...sell stuff for hikers on the MST. Hikers usually enjoy a hostel with friendly host instead of host that runs a business off of hikers. Most of everything else are things hikers can pick up in town.
Denatured alcohol and TP are probably the main things. Maybe provide maps of the NC state parks, Taba's guide books & Carolina Mtn Club's guide. If any foods, Propel, snickers, Cliff bars, or small supply of dry/dehydrated foods.
Shuttles to re-supply and to any outfitters.
Be sure to advertise your hostel to the biking and motorcycle community.
With the MST still being built you really don't need to do much except to offer the basics.
Ya, I'm going to offer washer and dryer use. And slackpacking is a good idea. I can probably pick them up down the trail, near hwy. 421 or whatever if they want too.
And yea, I don't want to stock a bunch of stuff - just the little things that usually need to be replaced - fuel, a couple pair of socks, half dozen tent stakes, then maps, a small selection of food. Those are all things I use anyways.
Thanks so much for planning to open a hostel in that area. It is much needed. Sounds like you've gotten great advice from folks about what hikers will need. FMST will be happy to let people know of your offer.
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST)
Hey, if anyone needs a place to stay now while hiking the trail, I'll let them camp in the backyard for free and if you want to sleep on the floor in one of the extra bedrooms, I'll let them for like $5 (still working on the house, no beds set up yet) I can let them use the shower and clothes washer for a small fee too if they want. Email me at email@example.com if you need a place to stay.
How many MST hikers have you seen near your location during the season? Just wondering how well known the trail is.
I dunno actually, I didn't even know the trail existed till a few weeks ago. Got out and actually hiked on it the first time 2 weeks ago. I just moved into the house back in June, was planning on making a Bed and Breakfast because of being close to the Parkway. It was awesome when I realized what the MST signs were. Anyways, the trail looks pretty well traveled. Seen a couple day hikers and a couple backpackers, but I was driving and didn't have a chance to talk to the backpackers.
From what I can tell, not many people thru hike the trail (like what, 26 so far or something?) and most section hikers stop in Blowing Rock because of the lack of camping and such. Hopefully I can help out this section.
Ok, so I've been thinking about how else I can help out the trail. I have a friend who owns land right on the parkway down just south of Bamboo Gap - look on the map where Blackberry road crosses the parkway. Right there. I can talk her into letting people camp on her property if they take care of it. I'll talk to her.
There's a church about 4 miles north on the parkway that would probably let backpackers camp on their land too. It's like maybe 500 yards off the trail? Someone should approach them.
I have a couple contacts up here that have ALOT of pull in the area and know just about everyone. If yall can tell me specific spots along the trail that needs spots to camp or whatever, I can talk to them about who they know and what kind of strings they can pull to get permission to camp overnight on their property. Specifically near Blowing Rock and then I have some contacts past 421 up towards my place (in Laurel Springs)
Couldn't edit the last post. The church I'm talking about is 4 miles north of my friends house off of the Parkway and Blackberry Road
So far the FMST has recognized about 23 individuals. Taba has completed 2 single way thrus and 1 yo-yo.
The MST is not your usual backcountry trail. It is a combination of rural backroads, remote backcountry trails, state parks trails, and beachfront. Its becoming a social trail because hikers are in need of support all the long stretches on the parkway and down on the Piedmont roads. But we had President and 1st Lady Obama on it. A lot of the MST runs on existing parkway, Pisgah Forest, and state park trails.
Yea, I've done alot of research on the trail already. I'm personally into backcountry backpacking mostly, but I see the draw of the other aspects. My cousin (and roommate) is thinking about hiking the MST (or part of it) next summer. We've started day hiking parts of the trail.
What sections of the trail are canoe-able? I've seen a few references to canoeing part of it.
Just as an update, not forgetting all of this. Been cash strapped, a little behind on the hostel build-out. Definitely going to let everyone camp out if they need to. Anyone needing directions from the parkway let me know. (not hard, nice flat walk from the parkway to my place)