View Full Version : Four Pines Hostel (Catawba VA 2017)

06-05-2017, 16:03
So watch out if you stop at four pines guys! I had a terrible experience at this hostel.

I'm going to go ahead and apologize for the language but I figured if I'm going to slam a place I better be true to what the guy says right?

The owner forgot about my group after calling for a pickup for an hour and 45 minutes, his wife (who was incredibly nice) saved the day and picked us up instead. I figured hey it happens and went to the hostel anyway.

The next day I ask for a shuttle to the Post Office and Joe jokes around (so I thought at the time) that he's sick of needy hikers and gives us a hard time. So he drops 5 hikers off and says I'll be back in 15-20 minutes, after 55 someone calls him and asks if we were going to be picked up in which he responded "I know where you are. Shut the **** up." And hangs up. After he showed up saying there was a traffic accident he pretty much cussed everyone out and told two hikers they could walk to the trail head and left them, he refused to take us back to the hostel because he didn't have time and wouldn't give directions after leaving us at a gas station. 15 minutes later he shoes back up with another hiker and says to get in. We passed the hiker who called him and he said good she was ****ing irritating and should be walking, when I explained why she called he threatened to leave me on the side of the road.

The hostel itself was nice and everyone else was nice. It had a similar feeling to Uncle Johnny's which I very much liked. But none of that matters when you're being cussed out and the owner looks at you and says "You can ****ing walk." I will be sending a detailed letter to all the major guide books about my experience because it was unacceptable and no hiker should be treated like Joe is treating people.

I hope it's an isolated event but I doubt it.

Sweet Tea
Nobo 2017

06-05-2017, 16:47
...I hope it's an isolated event but I doubt it.

Sweet Tea
Nobo 2017

Wow, like you, I hope this was an isolated event! We have plans to be there this fall. Maybe there's less stress in the off season...

Rain Man
06-06-2017, 00:16
I hope it's an isolated event but I doubt it.

Not isolated based on what I've heard and read over the years.

06-06-2017, 18:24
I had a great stay at 4 Pines January of 2016. I was just happy that Joe still had the place open for the straggler SOBOs still out there. His future wife made the best energy bars I'd ever had, and Eddy the helper was a genuine nice guy. He drove us anywhere we wanted to go, the Homeplace of course, was on the list. Then Joe arranged for a local dentist to squeeze in a hiker who needed work done.

This is only my experience.

06-06-2017, 21:00
The dude gives you a place to stay, donation based, to keep it going.
And you trash him.

How much did you pay for all the rides and the stay?
Only shuttles are supposed to be to the restaurant.
Anything else is a favor

A lot wont pay anything, while asking for more and more

Id be tired of it too
Id be charging for rides

My time is worth...$20/hr minimum, or I wouldnt do it

As you say, the hostel was fine.
It was the shuttling you had issues with
And it sounds like that was because....you asked for m ore than he offered

Honestly, with the driving around, if someone donated less than $20-30, theyd be the ahole imo. And at least half the people probably are

06-06-2017, 21:35
Thru hikers are a needy bunch and they all want to go off in different directions at the same time. When it gets busy, it gets crazy. You got to cut the guy a little slack this time of year. The amount of running around they do - on a daily basis - is just insane.

06-07-2017, 00:43
When I read these kind of stories, I wonder how anyone can run a hiker hostel these days. And we've read these kinds of stories before regarding well known hostel owners in other trail towns. I hiked thru that section of the AT in late April 2013, skipped Four Pines Hostel, but did hike down to the nearby gas station/convenience store that had the best sandwiches. Heard good things about that hostel from other AT hikers at that time. Hope you don't have these kinds of experiences on the rest of your NoBo hike.

The drastic increase in the number of thru hikers every year probably stretching shuttles and hostels to their limits these days.

Gambit McCrae
06-07-2017, 06:24
I have hung out with joe, and or stayed at his place 3-4 different times. Always been the same - great dude. He has sacrificed privacy and his garage as well as countless hours of dedication to favors to hikers. He takes the donations from the hostel and goes to trail days and does a big bbq grilling station probably free to enjoy. Joe is one of those people that are really good at showing people how soft and sensitive the millennial demographic are. If he told you to **** then you prolly needed to ****! lol I say this with humor bc I know Joe means well and may have been having a bad day.

First time I stayed there my buddy and I did around a 20-22 mile day in august to get there. I was great! My buddy however was very dehydrated and throwing up/ cramping. Buddy asked me to call and see if the hostel would drive to the TH and pick him up ( not knowing how long the road walk was, or how short for that matter). When I called and explained Joe said "Who the hell can walk 20 miles on the Appalachian trail but cant walk the road for .2 miles!?" LOL

V Eight
06-11-2017, 11:10
While I do live only about 15 miles from 4 Pine’s, I do not “know” them and if I showed up on their doorstep they would probably have no Idea who I am.

4 Pine’s probably see’s over a 1000 hikers at their place in the course of the year. Maybe more. So, in the last couple 3/4 years there have been 2 or 3 hikers come here and complain about this or that. Not a bad record in my opinion. For those of you that will jump in and say “if you’re in the hostel business…..” keep in mind that this is not a Business per say, for these folks it really is more an act of love and fellowship than anything else.

I get to hike the area 50 miles either way of 4 Pines quite frequently (year-round). In the 4 years, I have lived in this area, I hardly ever heard a negative comment from hikers on the trail. Mostly that the hostel was crowded in bad weather and waiting their turn to get to their desired trail head. I’m not going to bash “millennial's” here, as I have been seeing the same kind of “it’s all about me” attitude starting to become more prevalent across the spectrum of hikers. Not all but it seems like more every year. This is a very busy time on the AT in this area. A couple weeks ago I was on the AT for 3 ½ days. (I tend to stay off the AT this time of year) I hike slow so most all the nobo’s pass me. I counted 179 would be thru hikers and something like 50 more long section hikers. That was me stopping early and starting late, so who knows how many hikers I did not even see. So, if I had been dealing with a bunch of what we frequently refer to as “entitled” hikers, I expect I would be cranky now and then too.

Just one more thing.
4 Pine’s does do the big hiker feed at the end of the ballpark at “Tent City” Friday AND Saturday at Trail Days. I bet 99% of the people enjoying a free meal have any idea who is doing all that work as well as footing the bill. I don’t know If they get any financial support for these feeds, but it would not surprise me at all if they bore the cost themselves.

As Just another hiker out in the woods I would (and have) give 4 Pines my highest recommendation.


06-11-2017, 12:15
Wow, like you, I hope this was an isolated event! We have plans to be there this fall. Maybe there's less stress in the off season...Ehh... I used him in the fall for a shuttle. He was a bit testy and was trash talking another shuttle driver. Very judgmental - cussing at people in the parking lot. I got the impression that his life is complicated at the moment. The older gentleman with him seemed nice, and I liked his dog. He was on time though, so there's that.

06-11-2017, 13:45
I loved the place. I was there about 6 weeks ago with about 25 +/- others, some slept in the barn and maybe even a few on the boat. As far as shuttling goes he gave us rides no crap or BS and then later he just gave us the Dragon Wagon to run ourselves as he was busy doing our laundry. I dropped a few fives in the box then chalked up the wall a bit and was glad to be out of the rain for the night.

06-11-2017, 14:14
I think there are a lot of hikers who don't understand the differing motivations for people who serve the hiking community.

Some people operate as a money making business and are doing it to make a living.

Some people open their homes to hikers and are doing it to be nice and not so much to make money...most of these places operate on donations. Imagine if you let a bunch of strangers camp out in your garage for the night and drove them into town to get fat and happy at a local restaurant. And then the same people got on the internet and complained because you wouldn't chauffeur them all over town. How would you feel?

Joe and his family were nothing but friendly and nice when I stayed there in 2002. The rules there aren't as strict as they are at many other hostels, and I've seen people complain in the past because they didn't like this...it's Joe's house...if you don't like it there you don't have to stay.

I think the OP here is just confused about who Joe is and what the 4 Pines Hostel is all about. He didn't even know the AT crossed near his house until somebody knocked on his door late at night in the pouring rain and asked if he could sleep in the garage. By the end of that summer more than 300 people had stayed there all based upon word of mouth and Joe's generosity.

Just because he's willing to let you sleep in his garage and take you out to a restaurant doesn't mean he's volunteering to take you anywhere you want to go. If I were him from now on I would just tell people I don't do shuttles because in the past it has been a pain in the neck and hikers really didn't appreciate it.

06-11-2017, 18:08
My experience at 4 Pines was of a very comfortable generous offering!