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  1. #1

    Default What Makes a Town Attractive to Hikers (of all types)?

    Any new perspectives since the last thread on this topic? I'm leading a workshop on this town at ATC's Biennial Conference in Emory, VA at the beginning of July.

    I'm interested not only in thoughts from thru-hikers, but day-hikers and short-term backpackers.

    I'm aware of the recent survey by Sherri Ross about library use on the Trail and the one about the town of Franklin, but needs/expectations can change even in a year's time, and those surveys were based on specific locations/topics.

    General comments as well as specific positive examples would be helpful. Please indicate what type of hiking your recommendations are based on, and when you hiked.

    By the way, at the Conference there are are multiple workshops related to the A.T. in the following categories: Hiking & Backpacking Skills, Trail Management, Natural Wonders, Cultural History along the A.T., Engaging Youth on the Trail, Appalachian Trail Communities, Environmental Issues for the A.T., and Volunteer Leadership Development. These offer great opportunities to deepen your knowledge of the A.T. and learn about ways to give back. Lots of organized hikes, too. More at www.virginia2011.org.

    Thanks!

    Laurie Potteiger
    ATC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauriep View Post
    Any new perspectives since the last thread on this topic? I'm leading a workshop on this town at ATC's Biennial Conference in Emory, VA at the beginning of July.

    I'm interested not only in thoughts from thru-hikers, but day-hikers and short-term backpackers.

    I'm aware of the recent survey by Sherri Ross about library use on the Trail and the one about the town of Franklin, but needs/expectations can change even in a year's time, and those surveys were based on specific locations/topics.

    General comments as well as specific positive examples would be helpful. Please indicate what type of hiking your recommendations are based on, and when you hiked.

    By the way, at the Conference there are are multiple workshops related to the A.T. in the following categories: Hiking & Backpacking Skills, Trail Management, Natural Wonders, Cultural History along the A.T., Engaging Youth on the Trail, Appalachian Trail Communities, Environmental Issues for the A.T., and Volunteer Leadership Development. These offer great opportunities to deepen your knowledge of the A.T. and learn about ways to give back. Lots of organized hikes, too. More at www.virginia2011.org.

    Thanks!

    Laurie Potteiger
    ATC
    Beer and pizza...not necessarily (but probably) in that order. Showers are nice sometimes too...
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  3. #3

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    1. easy to get to
    2. easy to get to
    3. easy to get to
    4. has decent grocery store, resturant and inexpensive accomidations.

    Towns which the trail travels through, or very near by, obviously get the most hiker traffic. The policy of moving the trail away from towns hurt both the towns and the long distance hikers.

    I do long section hikes, 200 to 500 miles, every year for the last 8 years.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4

    Default Transportation

    The one trait I can think of that matters to all hikers - day hikers, short section hikers, long section hikers, thruhikers - is transportation options, i.e. locals willing to shuttle hikers (for adequate compensation of course).
    Day hikers and short-term section hikers might want someone to shuttle from one point to another e.g. between road crossings. Long term section hikers would seek someone to shuttle them >100 miles up the trail. Thruhikers would like shuttlers between the trailhead and town.

    Next choice would be a decent restaurant of 2 since even day hikers might enjoy a nice meal at the end of the day.

    Other amenities such as affordable lodging, stocked grocery stores, internet service, laundry, are more important to long-distance hikers.

    I would add one difficult-to-quantify intangible: how does the community "feel" about the Trail - supportive, indifferent, negative? Is the local hiking/trail-maintainig club connected within the community? Does the community value and appreciate the Trail as a natural and recreational resource? Does it see the benefit in preservation of the "green tunnel" and greater Trail corridor as a respite from urbanization?

  5. #5

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    I like a town where the post office is within walking distance of the grocery store, the library, restaurants and if I am staying overnight, my lodging. So basically any town that hasn't been designed around the automobile.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  6. #6
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    Hikers' needs are pretty simple. In no particular order, the following things make a town attractive to hikers:

    *Proximity to the Trail, i.e. either being right on the Trail, or very close, and
    easy to get in and out of.
    *The main reason hikers get off the Trail is to re-supply, so a good place (or
    places to buy food) is also a must.
    *Hikers wanting to overnight are looking for affordable lodging places, i.e
    reasonably priced motels or hostels. Lacking this, a place to camp either in
    or very close to town is a plus.
    *Good, hiker-friendly, affordable places to eat.
    *A laundromat.
    *A Public Library or other location with free or reasonably priced Internet
    service.
    *A Post Office or other location where hikers can send or receive mail.

    Those are the big ones. Other things that make towns attractive to hikers would be medical service of some sort; an Outfitter or outdoor store that knows what backpackers are looking for; bus or Amtrak service either present or near-by; a veterinarian for those hiking with dogs.

    Other pluses would be the presence of locals who are available to shuttle hikers; a car rental service; a pharmacy; retail stores either small (like a Dollar Store), or large (like a Wal-Mart).

  7. #7
    So many trails... so little time. Many Walks's Avatar
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    Lauriep, you might search for Jack Tarlin's thread “Ways to improve Hanover, NH”. As I recall there was a lot of input and discussion you might find useful.
    That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. Henry David Thoreau

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    I tend to go macro instead of micro when this topic comes up.

    To me the number one thing is the attitude of the town people towards hikers. If the attitude is good everything else seems to naturally fall into place. A springboard to hiker services expand from it.

    The town leadership usually sets the culture.
    Last edited by Spokes; 06-10-2011 at 12:27.

  9. #9
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    My ideal trail town has the following:
    - Motel, clean and basic for under $50
    - Laundromat
    - Supermarket, or well stocked grocery store
    - Pizza place, Diner
    - Library

    That's me!

  10. #10
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Sure its nice when a town is easily accessible, but I rather prefer a town accepting of hikers. With folks that reach out in unexpected ways to welcome you. One town in particular, Palmerton, PA - was a bear to get in and out of, but wow, what open arms to hikers. I walked into town on my NOBO hike in '07 to receive a cup of cold lemonade on the steps of the bank, a friendly face who welcomed us to the jailhouse hostel, along with a bag of goodies that a Scout troop had made up just for hikers, and when I went shopping at IGA, a free apple when they learned I was a hiker. Smiles abounded. I felt accepted there and they were glad to have me, a grungy hiker, in their town. I doesn't get more friendly than that, I must say.

    Another instance that sticks out in my mind on my SOBO hike in '10 is Caratunk, Maine. Okay, granted it is a tiny hamlet with no services at all for hikers, save the PO. But I went there to pick up my mail drop and the postmistress went out of her way to be friendly, engaging in conversation, called up several delivery places to find out what happened to a hiker's boots, had a courtesy phone to call down to the resort center, and a hiker box.

    So its not all about convenience, cheap stays, food, beer, etc. There's much more than meets the eye, and a smile goes along way, IMO - both in the town and by the hiker.



    Wish I was there, Laurie, but I will be on the Long Trail then! Hope it goes well.
    Last edited by Blissful; 06-10-2011 at 10:39.







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  11. #11
    Registered User Lord Helment's Avatar
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    I tend to go macro instead of micro when this topic comes up.

    To me the number one thing is the attitude of the town people towards hikers. If the attitude is good everything else seems to naturally fall into place. A springboard of hiker services expand from it.

    The town leadership usually sets the culture.

    i agree totally with spokes assessmnet......followed by services available
    ATC Life Member
    The only thing in life you have total control of is your attitude

  12. #12

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    the doyal factor of any town is the only thing of concern to hikers. how closely the town resembls a dirty drunken pizza burping freashly showered hiker. yes, dirty, and freashly showered.
    matthewski

  13. #13
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    . But I went there to pick up my mail drop and the postmistress went out of her way to be friendly, engaging in conversation, called up several delivery places to find out what happened to a hiker's boots, had a courtesy phone to call down to the resort center, and a hiker box.
    Never heard that word before......
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    .....
    Another instance that sticks out in my mind on my SOBO hike in '10 is Caratunk, Maine. ....But I went there to pick up my mail drop and the postmistress went out of her way to be friendly, engaging in conversation, called up several delivery places to find out what happened to a hiker's boots, had a courtesy phone to call down to the resort center, and a hiker box.
    ....
    I agree Blissful. That same Caratunk Postmistress treated me the same way. What enjoyable experience and one I'll always remember!

    It goes back to that "attitude" thing I mentioned.

  15. #15

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    Things that sitck out in my mind:

    Tehachapi: The post office is a mile away over the freeway from the nearest anything else. It is a long walk from the downtown area and whenever I've been there, the wind is blowing a hundred miles an hour and it's in the desert so it's hot or freezing or both. Your feet already hurt from hiking hundreds of miles and now you've got a huge long slog just to get to the post office. Now you have to depend on someone giving you a ride.

    The grocery stores are also a couple miles away, so you've got to either combine the trips into an enormous 5 mile hike carrying all your stuff or you have to make two trips for an even longer trip. So you now have to figure out how to get rid of all your packaging so you can carry everything in your little backpack or else you have to commandeer a shopping cart from the K-Mart like and push it all around town like a homeless person.

    I don't want a ride to everything, nice as that is. I just want to take care of my business independently and not have to be shuttled around. And the idea that you would take an essential service like the post office and shove it off to some remote outpost not close to anything else in the whole city, with a decorative windy road that makes you have to walk an extra quarter of a mile just to get to the entrance is absurd. Oh, and public transportation? What is that?

    Contrast this to Lone Pine: Walk out my hotel, walk a couple blocks to the grocery, to an awesome place to eat and to the post office. Even a gear store. No shuttling, no bus necessary. But there's a bus that can take me all the way to Reno if I want. Total independence.

    Both towns are very far from the trail, but once you get into town, Lone Pine is just laid out so much better for getting around without a car. At least the dive motel in Tehachapi got wise and rents bicycles.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  16. #16

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    Thanks for all the exceptionally helpful and thoughtful responses!!

    - Laurie P.

  17. #17

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    Enjoy the Long Trail, Blissful!

  18. #18
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    A good stop would include:

    1. A reasonably priced restaurant with LOTS of food available.
    2. Grocery store.
    3. Inexpensive lodging.
    4. Shower.
    5. Laundry.
    6. Maybe an outfitter.
    7. Easy access.

    Any thing else is gravy.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  19. #19

    Default artist matthewski designs and builds perfect trail town for hikers!

    situated along the banks of the sussquahanna just directly across from duncannon, a town is being built. not any ordinary town with houses and schools. a completly hiker friendly town. the appalachian trail comes off of peters mountain just north of duncannon and before it crosses the clarks ferry bridge into duncannon, it pauses in the new hiker town named for the city of duncannon, duncannon 2 will feture an exact replica of the town in mirror image down to the supermarket and shops and homes and plants and feilds. the first mirror image town ever conceived by artist mattheski. it is exspected to double the old towns tourest tade when visitors visit both to compare. new york curators from the museums are raveing about what there calling a genius artwork. the whole town will be functional and in exact duplicate.
    matthewski

  20. #20
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    I would +1 all the above. The one thing us section hikers need particularly if you are a major trail head is a reasonably safe place to leave a car. even if it is a couple of miles off the trail. Note the NP at Harper's Ferry is good but you have to get there by 1700.
    Alcohol was involved!

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