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Lemni Skate
07-25-2009, 23:35
I just finished an overnighter on the AT in Northern Virginia. Spent the night at Blackburn Trail Center.

That place is great! I didn't know I was going to be at a place that great or I would have packed lighter (less food--no tent).

Caretaker (Brian) brought us a gigantic bowl of spaghetti (pretending he accidentally cooked too much and sodas). I slept in my tent (others don't need to hear me snore), but hung out on the porch and had a blast with the other hikers there.

It was further downhill than the signs on the trail indicated, but other than that I can't think of a negative thing to say.

Anyone got any good stories about the place?

flemdawg1
07-25-2009, 23:50
Location? I'll be traveling to VA in a couple of weeks.

jwalden
07-26-2009, 01:58
Negative things to say?

It was three miles further than I was willing to hike given the stops I took on the trail that day (at least if I wanted to arrive at a sociable time of day, it would have been well after dark if I had pushed it), so I couldn't stay a night. Along the same lines, it's also too close to Bears Den.

But that's just me being grouchy to be grouchy given your implicit challenge, especially after pushing myself as hard as I did that day. I stopped and lounged for a few hours the next day sipping a Dr. Thunder (?, some generic pop with that sort of name) from the caretaker (not Brian, this was last year), had a very relaxing break from hiking -- part of a nice wind-down day after the previous day's hiking. BTC looked cool (and was cool to the extent I experienced it), just wish it had coincided with my hiking plans better.

jwalden
07-26-2009, 02:02
Location is three miles south of David Lesser Shelter and six south of Keys Gap, the first road crossing in Virginia heading south on the A.T. out of West Virginia. It's also eight miles north of Bears Den, seven miles north of VA 7/679 at Snickers Gap near Bluemont. Given this, odds are it's not near where you're going to be traveling, or you'd have mentioned being close to WV (and MD) as well.

Lemni Skate
07-27-2009, 08:01
I think it's a nice stop for somebody who's just beginning or doing a shakedown hike or just wants an easy overnighter.

Also it would be a good place for a thru-hiker to stay who wanted to resist the urge to spend a zero in expensive Harpers Ferry.

It's 12 easy miles from Blackburn to Harper's Ferry so you could hit the town by noon. Get lunch, hang out at AT Headquarters and get the "required" photos and then head into Maryland and probably save some bucks.

sharky
07-27-2009, 09:19
I heard there was a big party down there on Saturday. I was coming from Harpers Ferry in the heat and got a late start. I wouldn't of been there till 4ish so I decided David Lesser was a better option.

Do they charge to camp there?

sly dog
07-27-2009, 10:17
That place was a godsend for me. By the time I got there I was walking in a steady downpour with lightning and was soaked to the bone. My brother and I arrived there after dark and the one hiker on the porch told us the hostel was empty so we went up to it soaked, got a nice fire going in the woodburner and dried everything out. Got a good night sleep and really lifted our spirits. So very thankfully that place was there. Never had a chance to meet the caretaker but maybe next time.

greg burke
07-28-2009, 17:55
got any new pics to share?? I love that place...read "2175 Trail Essay .by Greg Burke.you will have to do a post search to find it.have a great day. greg.

Mrs Baggins
07-28-2009, 18:18
We were on a short overnight, from Snickers Gap to Harpers Ferry, in 2005. We got to Blackburn and there was all sorts of activity there. Turned out they had rented it out for a wedding and reception. It was completely closed off to hikers. The wedding families offered us sodas and bottled water but we could not use the facilities otherwise. No big deal because we were headed for the David Lesser shelter anyway, and they did let us use the outside water tap to load up on fresh water. But I'm sure that if any thru-hikers got there (this was late June) they were hugely disappointed that it was swamped with non-hikers and all of the guests/preparations/vendors of a wedding.

Jeff
07-28-2009, 19:30
Do they charge to camp there?

I believe Blackburn (both the bunkroom and tenting) is by "donation" only. Please leave a nice donation....it is a great stop on the Appalachian Trail.

sly dog
07-29-2009, 10:45
I believe Blackburn (both the bunkroom and tenting) is by "donation" only. Please leave a nice donation....it is a great stop on the Appalachian Trail.

I would have donated but there was no one there when I got there and no one there in the morning before we left. In a case like that, what do I do?

Frick Frack
07-29-2009, 10:58
I would have donated but there was no one there when I got there and no one there in the morning before we left. In a case like that, what do I do?

There is a donation box on the porch next to the register. An excellent stop I might add!

sly dog
07-30-2009, 09:42
There is a donation box on the porch next to the register. An excellent stop I might add!

ooops....I never made it onto the porch, I was in the bunkhouse and when I left in the morning there were 2 hikers sleeping on the porch so I didnt want to disturb them. Thats the first time I never gave anything and I'm going to make up for it next time I go thru that area.

aquaman1208
08-30-2009, 17:47
What are their dates of operation are they open in the fall?

Tuckahoe
10-14-2009, 20:58
About to do a hike from Bears Den to Harpers Ferry, and planning to spend the first night out (October 27) at the Blackburn Trail Center. Are there any sort of arrangements or reservations that need to be made beforehand?

Long feet
10-14-2009, 23:54
I went through there last December. Unfortunately, it was already closed for the season. It seemed like a great place. We stopped for water and had lunch on the porch.

Jeff
10-15-2009, 07:44
About to do a hike from Bears Den to Harpers Ferry, and planning to spend the first night out (October 27) at the Blackburn Trail Center. Are there any sort of arrangements or reservations that need to be made beforehand?

Appalachian Pages lists a phone # (540) 338-9028

Crazy Larry #1
10-15-2009, 08:31
I think Blackburn has always been a good stop for hikers on the most part......and Bears Den as well...

veteran
10-15-2009, 09:56
Blackburn Trail Center

http://www.trailgallery.com/photos/4865/tj4865%5F050707%5F103100%5F216151.jpg

Blackburn Trail Center, hiker hut

http://www.trailgallery.com/photos/7982/tj7982%5F112808%5F194547%5F404569.jpg

Crazy Larry #1
10-15-2009, 11:37
Blackburn Trail Center



http://www.trailgallery.com/photos/4865/tj4865%5F050707%5F103100%5F216151.jpg


Blackburn Trail Center, hiker hut



http://www.trailgallery.com/photos/7982/tj7982%5F112808%5F194547%5F404569.jpg

I fell in love with a girl in that cabin one night.........:)

Tuckahoe
10-15-2009, 17:53
Jeff, thanks for the phone number -- I'll give a call. Its alright if they are closed. We're looking at Blackburn for water, and can happily camp anywhere along that area.

trippclark
10-20-2009, 11:38
I think that my experience with Blackburn was not typical, at least I like to think that it was, and judging by what I read hear and have read elsewhere, I believe it to be true.

Blackburn was my ending point on my most recent section hike. I found that it was a very sharp contrast to my stop earlier in the day at Bears Den. At Bears Den, I found it very welcoming and cheery. At Blackburn, I rendezvoused with the folks that had come with me and were picking me up, all of us felt rather un-welcome and out of place -- more so than at any trail "place" before. I can't exactly put a finger on it, but it was a feeling that we all shared and discussed after we left.

Soon after I arrived on the porch, I thought I'd take a look around. The door was open, so I walked inside. The caretaker(?) quickly came up and said I had to leave that it was a private residence (understandable, but not so marked, and his approach was sort of brash). When we asked about camping there overnight before my next section hike (it is a 10+ hour drive, so I'll probably arrive at or after dark), we were told that was not allowed. After more explanation, he reluctantly said that it would be okay.

It was raining hard, and getting dark (just after sunset), so perhaps it was a "timing" thing, I am not sure, but it was enough to make me plan that next trip I am probably going to drive up and stay at Bears Den then get up the next day and drive to Blackburn to start my trip rather than staying at Blackburn, which was my original intent.

It was sort of disappointing, because I had really looked forward to Blackburn. Like I said, I think and hope that my experience was atypical. Had I arrived earlier in the day, maybe in better weather, perhaps my experience would have been much more positive.

GoldenBear
04-24-2013, 12:04
And the quiet of the place was almost spooky. Still, that was EXACTLY what I like in a place to stay.

The place is down from the ridge line, so (surprise!) the well-maintained, blue-blazed trail can seem a bit steep after the flatness you've been hiking on. Since it's just north of the end of the Roller Coaster, I got the sense of "Oh no, not AGAIN!" as I walked down during my NOBO (VERY short) section hike.

As I approached I saw a large building that, to a hiker, would look like a Hilton as a place to stay. The porch on this large building was open, so I just walked around for a few minutes, trying to figure out what was expected of me. All doors into the building were locked, with signs stating it was a private residence and that visitors should knock. I did, but it was clear nobody was inside. I noted the log book, reading material, chairs, pay phone, and the donation box next to it. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to just spread out and spend the night on the porch, without ever having human contact.

A hiker who was ending his walk here -- the only person I had seen in several hours -- came by and pointed out the residence on top of the garage, which had its lights on. I knocked on THAT door, and the caretaker told me that the small cabin behind the main one is the hikers' shelter. He also noted where the water spigot is, outside the porch area in front of the driveway.

The cabin is little more than an enclosed shelter -- two inside bunks, with a covered porch and a cast iron, wood burning stove. The place has a privy behind this building, several picnic table (some covered), "solar" showers below the main building, and a tenting area behind the garage residence. The showers and stove would (I am sure) be a godsend for many hikers, but I did not test out either.

The place is hardly a hostel, in the sense that I had to search for human contact at the place. Still, I got a VERY quiet, clean, bug-proof, and dry place to spend the night; and got to fill by water sack as well. As the hiking season wears on, I'm sure the social scale of this place will increase.