View Full Version : Getting to trail from airports

03-01-2019, 17:21
Hi Gang,

I am planning to start my 3 week section hike in Erwin, Tn April 15th and leaving the trail around Atkins, VA?? (still trying to figure out how far I'll get in 3 weeks, but I think Atkins is a safe bet). I'll be flying from Austin, TX.

Where would you recommend to fly into and out of? Also, how do most people get from the airport to the trail? Trail Shuttles? Car Rentals??

And last question, I've never flown with a big ass backpack before. It will be pretty full. Do you put it in some type of large bag to protect it during flight? I assume I'll have to purchase my food and fuel canister when I arrive in Erwin.


Lone Wolf
03-01-2019, 17:57
Tri-cities airport

03-01-2019, 17:57
Tri Cities Tennessee is closest airport to erwin...

and from there-----theres a few shuttlers that could give you a ride to trail........

Captain Panda
03-01-2019, 18:01
Tri Cities to Erwin 25 mi
Adkins VA to Tri Cities 67 mi
hikershuttles.com in Erwin

03-01-2019, 18:50
Flying with big ass backpack.

Most recommend getting a big, cheap duffle bag which you can toss or donate when you arrive. That seems to be the most practical solution. Just make sure it fits their size limitations.

Auston to twin cities, eh? Kind of doubt they have a direct flight. Nope, one transfer someplace according to Google. Takes about 5 hours. Run you about $300 for round trip if you book now. Looks to be a pretty short and direct interstate from the airport to Erwin, so the shuttle should be reasonable.

03-01-2019, 22:44
Uber is an option as well.

03-02-2019, 09:06
Flying: get a cheap duffle, stick your gear inside, and check it. That'll protect the pack from damage. You'll have to buy fuel when you arrive. Food can go either way, we find it easier to bring the first section's food with us when traveling.

Getting to/from the trail: shuttle driver. The same one can handle both ways. Yeah you'll be walking for three weeks, but the total driving distance is only a few hours :)

You can ask your shuttle driver to hold onto the duffle for the return trip.

03-02-2019, 09:35
You can get to the trail from New York City by bus or train. Check the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference web site for details.

03-02-2019, 10:47
You can get to the trail from New York City by bus or train. Check the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference web site for details.

You can get sort of close to some places on the trail by bus or train. But not Erwin, TN. There is however a Greyhound stop in Marion, VA which is close to Atkins. I'd hate to ride the bus from Marion back to Auston, TX that would be like a 3 day bus ride.

For what the OP wants to do, the Tri-Cities airport looks to be the best option. I thought it would be a little dinky local airport, but it looks to be a good sized regional hub.

03-02-2019, 11:51
I got better flight prices out of Roanoke, but the shuttle cost more than the flight. I was also leaving the trail from Bland, which is some 30 miles further east.

03-02-2019, 12:29
I finished a LASH two years ago at the Partnership Shelter in Marion, VA. There is a Forestry Service visitor center right there at the shelter (short walk through the parking lot). There I got the phone number of Jim Sparks, a trail angel. He picked me up, took me to a hotel and then the next morning, he took me to the Greyhound Bus Stop. From there I went by bus and got pretty close to the Tri-State Airport (forget the town where I was dropped off but Greyhound can tell you). I had to stay overnight at a hotel close to the airport, because my plane did not leave until the next morning. I took a cheap cab the hotel, but check the shuttle list, too, for a ride. There is a shuttle driver close by. The hotel had a courtesy van that gave me a ride to the airport the next morning. If you do what I did, check the hotels to ensure they will provide a free ride to the airport.

What I did seemed to work well. Marion is not that far from Atkins so it will be simpler to end your hike there. However if you are set on going to Atkins, Jim will probably pick you up there. I have a phone number, which I believe is Jim Sparks' phone, but you would be better getting his phone number from the visitors center if you finish in Marion. Caveat - This is assuming Jim still does trail angel shuttles. 276-782-9300

03-02-2019, 13:36
Avoid the NASCAR racing in Bristol TN/VA the week ending Monday April 8.
I made the mistake trying to cross Alabama during race weekend in Talladega. What a mess!
Good luck!

03-02-2019, 14:46
Wow, this is very helpful. The duffel bag is a great idea. I'll look into the travel suggestions above. Atkins is not set in stone, just a possible jumping off point :-).

03-02-2019, 15:50

ITA provides flight software for the airline industry. Many airlines and middle man sites like Kayak, Travelocity and Orbit may incorporate it into their search engines. I go to ITA first to reduce cheapest flight search times unless I have specific airline frequent flyer miles or recent specific airline email limited time promotional flight deals to use. ITA details which airlines they provide software have the cheapest flights based on personally inputed flight parameters. Then, I book with that specific airline of which sometimes I apply FF miles or other discounts I have accts. It's the easiest and most forthright way I've learned to get cheapest flights for traveling to hiking destinations.