Thank you Montana, apprecitate yur kind words.
I regret not staying at Kincora after all the high praise I have heard for it. But I did enjoy myself at Laurel Creek Cabins so it is not a total loss. Rusty's in VA would be considered in this top five but I only spent an afternoon there and didn't stay overnight.
#1. The Cabin (Andover, ME)- I spent a record three nights there and it is not unusual for people to stay longer. Honey and Bear made me feel like family, and along with others I'm sure, Bear tried to talk me into staying longer. The food is amazing and you always get enough. I cannot stress enough how this was the best place to stay on the trail for me.
#2. Rob's House (Dalton, MA)- aka The Bird Cage. He just began taking hikers in 2001 so he is pretty new. This is not a hostel or a hotel, this is his home. He enjoys the company of the hikers and is a down to earth guy. There is no charge for staying there, only that you clean up after yourself, replace anything that the hikers use (ie if the shampoo/sodas/detergent runs out, then pick up some more when you go to the grocery store). Can check email there. The kindness of this man is unbelievable and I truly hope that hikers in the future do not take advantage of him.
#3. Goose Creek Cabins (near Neels Gap, GA).- Most folks will never see this place because Walasi-Yi Center is right there on the trail. When I came down Blood Mountain in 2001 my jaw dropped as I saw that the Center had closed for the next two days for Inventory. So we went to Goose Creek instead. It is a scenic and quiet place run by a man named Keith. The cabin's run around $20 or so. They take you into town to resupply and another trip to eat at Riversides. Most hikers will never see this place since it is so early on in the trip.
#4. Hike Inn (Fontana Dam, NC)- Run by Jeff and Nancy Hoch this is an old motel they bought. The rooms are clean and have TV's, very adequete for hikers, but what makes this place is Jeff and Nancy themselves. They are very cool people and I plan to stay there again if I am ever around Smoky Mountain NP.
#5. Elmer's (Hot Springs, NC)- You will not find another hostel along the trail that looks this fancy inside. The sense of community there is great as well. The house is so big that even if it is crowded it is not that hard to find a porch or room to yourself. Past thru-hikers come out for the summer to work for Elmer. The vegetarian style meals were amazingly good considering I am the furthest thing from a vegetarian (see my "kill or not to kill" post).
Some other can't-miss places: Shaw's (monson, Me); White House Landing (100 mile wilderness, ME); Hiker Welcome (Glencliff, NH); Church Hostel (Vernon, NJ); Eckville Shelter (Eckville, PA); Bear's Den Hostel (Virginia, near Harper's Ferry); The Place (Damascus, VA).
Gee Whiz. I can't comment on Ganj's top 5. I didn't stay in any of them. (Did stay in a couple of the rest)
Hostel stay availability
I am heading out this year at the end of March and was wondering if it is difficult in geting into places such as the Blueberry Patch, Yalasi-yi, and Elmer's that are located near the start of tha AT during the peak thru-hiker season in March and April. Also, on the trail does the word get around that the place's are filling up; I think most places don't take reservations and fill up the space on a first come, first servie, basis.
Many of these places are first come, first served. Elmers takes reservations however. Blueberry Patch does not. First 8 or so hikers are in.
Can't tell ya about Walasi-Yi. It wasn't opened as a hostel in 2000. Imagine its first come, first served. Its only about 30 miles south of Blueberry Patch however. Yeah, that seems far to a newbie... I took a shower. did some laundry and pigged out at Walasi-Yi. Then I walked on that afternoon. Lots of good camping spots in the Raven Cliffs Wilderness.
Tellico Gap Hostel is CLOSED
Tellico Gap Hostel is CLSOED.
I just found out that my brother was running a hostel out of my summer home when I wasn't there to know it. See the gory details on the forum about hostels in NC. But. be warned, you may be arrested for trespassing. My brother, Ron Vaughn, did all this behind my back and has been thrown out of my home.
I am so grateful that "MONTANA" saw my brother for who he is! I am rolling laughing. So he has gyped me out of a lot of money and all the trust in the world. You made me laugh. I know him well and he is exactly as you describe.
Everyone saw him as so generous and gracious. Easy to be gracious with someone elses' house and capital, etc.
I hope none of you ever get so conceited about hiking that you are this cruel to your freinds and family.
Stay at the real hostels, with real people!
You all have forgot one on the list of best hostels. My personal favorite, and that is Miss Jane't House in Erwin, TN. You are guarenteed, great food, a comforatabel home enviroment, and most of all a great, freindly, and motivational "MOM" take care of you, and keep you on the right path, mentally and literly.
top 5 fav's
I had a tough time coming up with 5...I guess thats a bad sign. The three I enjoyed the most were: Miss Janets, Glencliff Hikers Hostel and the church of the mountain in Delware Water Gap.
I liked the feel of Kincorras but alas didn't stay there because it was full.
The Caratunk B and B is worth noting because Paul is one of the nicest guys I met on my hike. Great breakfast and hospitality. Too bad his partner turned away so many hikers with his rude behavior.
I really regret not staying at the Cabin in Andover. I actually met Earl from the Cabin while I was waiting for Sandra from Andover Guest house to pick me up. We chatted and I had wished I stayed with them, he was such a nice guy! He even suggested my friend poptart stay at AGH because we hadn't seen each other in awhile even though she planned to stay with him.
Curtis at Standing Bear was extremely nice however I didn't stay.
I never stayed at Rusty's or 4 Pines. Elmers was OK.
hostels change, beware of outdated opinions
I noticed several postings giving strong opinions about some trail accomodations that are probably no longer valid because of ownership changes. If you are going to make comments about trail services please mention *when* you were last there.
-- The Tellico Hostel is closed.
-- Rainbow Springs Campground has new owners within the last 18 months.
-- Laurel Fork Lodge has new managers and I think new owners.
I hiked past Tellico this spring. I stayed at Rainbow Springs and Laurel Fork in April/May of this year both were very hiker friendly and recommended.
Radars absolutely correct. Hostels do change hands and that can make or break a hostel.
All my experiences were from this ytear 03'.
I was probably one of the few to stay at Tellico Gap Hostel. It IS CLOSED, don't plan on stopping there.
I didn't stay over but did resupply at Rainbow Springs. The new owners were incredibly nice. I never did meet the old owners. Phil and Yvette are the new owners names. They were quizzing us on the AT trying to learn the ropes and what thru-hikers want/need. They do take maildrops there. Phil drove six of us back to the AT even tho we didn't stay-very nice guy.
I stayed at Laurel Creek since Kincorra was full. I didn't have any experience with the new owners first hand, since I stayed in a cabin with other hikers which was payed for by one of my trailfriends parents who came to visit. The place was fine though.
If anyone has questions about any establishments bring em on.
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