View Full Version : Front Royal Terrapin Station Hostel (FRTSH)

06-15-2013, 23:59
Stayed for one night here earlier this week, and I am surprised that (apparently) nobody has done an in-depth review of the place. The biggest question in the posts from 2003 to 2009 was whether the place was even open. The 2013 edition of the Companion shows its opening dates to be April 28 to June 30, which seems to be the typical operating season.

Mike Evans has run this hostel, just a half mile off the Trail, for about ten years, after spending four years trying to buy a place at which he can run this business. He has done the A.T. and the P.C.T., worked in Denali NP, and was a ranger in Shenandoah for two years; and his love for the area is obvious. Have a question? Need some help? Want a shuttle? Just ask, and you are bound to find what you need.

I should mention that I was unaware that "Terrapin Station" was the name of an album by the Grateful Dead when I stayed there but, now that I know, the name certainly makes sense. If you imagine a 60-year-old fan of this group, your image will be close to Mike Evans.

The FRTSH is right at the border of Shenandoah NP, at the terminus of the Compton Gap Trail. Its address is 304 Chester Gap Road, and it's at the intersection with Sequoia Street in Blue Ridge Mountain Estates in ZIP 22623-2108. Phone is 540-539-05090, e-mail is [email protected] ; I would recommend phone contact. Note also that Mike has not set up even the most rudimentary web site for his place.

From the Compton Gap Parking Area, at Mile 10.4 of Skyline Drive, continue north on the A.T. for about 1.8 miles till it intersects with the Compton Gap (Chester Gap?) Trail.
This intersection is just south of the self-registration box for back-country campers, which is just south of the Shenandoah NP boundary. If NOBO from Compton Gap Parking Area, just keep going straight at every intersection, and follow the posts pointing you to Highway 610.

The terminus of this spur trail is the end Chester Gap Road, aka Highway 610. From here you should easily see the sign for the hostel.
Just walk into the backyard of the place, and then into the ground level door with the welcome sign. If Mike is not downstairs, knock on the door of the raised patio.

The entrance room is a combination foyer (please remove your boots), kitchen, welcome center, storage area, and recycle room.
In the fridge (which you can use to cool your water container) are cold sodas and juices; in the freezer are ice cream bars and frozen pizzas -- all for sale at reasonable prices. There is a trash can; as well as separate recycle bins for plastic, paper, aluminum cans (with a can crusher!), and cardboard.
Note that smoking is forbidden in all parts of the hostel. The policy on pets SEEMS to have changed, but I recommend checking ahead of time.

The den has a large-screen TV with satellite reception, a heating stove, a stereo, outlets for your phone, and the usual assortment of games & books.

Adjacent to the den is a bathroom with sink and shower (towels, soap, shampoo, and plenty of hot water provided), as well as a laundry room. Use of the washing machine, dryer, and the laundry soap is included in the cost of your stay -- just be prepared to have your clothes washed and dried with those of several other people.

The one sleeping room
has co-ed bunk beds; first-come, first-served on where you sleep. Each bed gets an air mattress, a sheet, and a pillow. The room is pretty tight and there's only one room light, so please be respectful of other's sleeping patterns. I'm happy to report that I had no noise problem despite the den -- with about ten other lodgers that night -- being adjacent to the sleeping room.

Included in a stay is a free ride into Front Royal for shopping, a fast food meal, or a post office pickup -- just discuss what you need and when you need it.

Mike provides shuttles from his place to just about anywhere, at a cost of $1 for every mile he drives -- in other words, the number of miles in a round-trip between his place and where you want to be picked up or dropped off. In my case, that was $50 to get dropped off at Thorton Gap and another $50 to get picked up at Ashby Gap (in other words, I moved my car from Thorton to Ashby). Since he does all the driving, it is best to discuss your plans before you arrive to ensure you will get the shuttle you need at the time of day you want it. If you are flexible and reasonable, the two of you should be able work out a schedule that will meet your needs. If this includes needing to park your car in his driveway, that can also (most likely) be arranged.

Mike accepts payment in cash, check, or Paypal; but NOT credit cards. However, you can set up a Paypal account linked to just about any of your credit cards in a matter of minutes, so just do so before you arrive. Then, when at FRTSH, you just log into your Paypal account on Mike's computer, and follow his instructions on how to send money from your account to his.

I re-iterate that Mike is running a business, not a charity; so expect to pay for the services he provides you. However, he is a very easy-going guy; and it should not be difficult to arrange for those services.

Zippy Morocco
06-16-2013, 13:18
I stopped in for a shower and laundry on my way through a couple months ago. He was very friendly and hospitable. The hostel seemed very clean comfy as well.

10-19-2014, 22:15
Thanks for the info, it sounds like it is exactly what I am looking for

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Almost There
10-20-2014, 14:31
Thanks for the info, it sounds like it is exactly what I am looking for

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

You might want to call, ad in Journeys says Mike is selling the place, but he's a great guy and well worth it, if he'll stay open until he sells.

10-20-2014, 14:34
Thanks for the advice. I will plan both a NOBO and SOBO hike and see how things work out.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk