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  1. #1
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    08-31-2007
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    Post HI-Hostel near Harper's Ferry

    Earlier this week I stayed one night at the HI-Harper's Ferry (HIHF) at the start of a short section hike, and wanted to pass on my (pleasant) experience.
    In summary, the place is very accommodating to all kinds of visitors, and is perfect for those hikers who want more than a shelter but less than a motel.

    When a place
    http://www.hiusa.org/harpersferry
    states right at the start that it is "Ideal for the Backpacker," it should be no surprise that AT hikers are welcome. Note, however, that alcohol and drugs are STRICTLY forbidden, tobacco use MUST be outside, and that they WILL expel anyone causing a disturbance. You should come for camaraderie, but not for hell-raising.

    HIHF has gender-specific dorm rooms, a co-ed dorm room (you MUST be part of a couple to stay in this room!), a private room, and a family room. All sleeping quarters have bunk-style beds; each with its own linens, blankets, pillow, and shower towel. There is the usual lack of privacy in such arrangements, but at least there is locked door to each lodging room (you get the code for your stay). Toilet and shower rooms are gender-specific, and the latter have more than adequate hot water for a good wash down.
    Lockers are available but you must supply the lock. A coin laundry is available. There is central heat and air. A few munchies and sundries are sold at the office, but it is hardly a "store." Outdoor activities include bike rental, volleyball, and horseshoe tossing. Credit cards are accepted.
    Like most hostels, HIHF is locked and must be emptied between 11 am and 5 pm. The doors are locked at 11 pm, but paid lodgers are given the front door pass-code.

    HIHF is almost two miles from the historical part of Harpers Ferry, so a casual stroll to just about anything is not possible. The place is isolated, so any walk to any business means being gone for a couple hours.

    Those who stay within HIHF -- but NOT campers -- have access to -
    - a commons area, with a fireplace, comfortable couches, and a variety of books.
    - a kitchen area, with utensils provided. Coffee, tea, and pancake batter (you cook your own pancakes) are complimentary in the morning.
    - free internet access (please limit usage!).
    - a trash can (it's nice to dump the stuff you've been packing out!) and a recycling bin.
    Campers, or just anyone passing through, can pay for a shower.

    HIHF likes to state that it is right off the A.T. while that trail goes along the C&O Bike Trail --and, as this photo shows
    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/show...?i=55807&c=510
    hikers and bikers go just below the camping area. HOWEVER, getting from that part of AT to the hostel is (at best) confusing and unnerving, and possibly downright dangerous.
    The directions HIHF gives is to walk on a path (NOT a bridge) over the C&O Canal, a path that is un-marked but easy to spot; then to cross the active railroad tracks; and then to walk up a narrow, winding, and hilly road. ANY one of these steps can be problematic even in daylight, and I would be reluctant to do any of them at night. There is a blue-blazed from the AT to HIHF trail that is a little safer (it still requires you illegally cross railroad tracks), but even the staff admits it would difficult to find from the Trail. At no point in the walk to the hostel was there even one sign to assist with getting to the place. Even with a print-out of their own directions and in broad daylight, I felt downright unsure if I was going the right way as I walked to the place.

    The caretakers clearly loved this place and were very happy to help the people staying there. Friendliness was definitely a facet of here.

    Even though I stayed only one night, I had no problem parking my car for three nights, for free, while I returned there. I can not guarantee others would get such a deal.

    This hostel works quite well with this company
    http://www.hostelhiker.com/book/deta...harpers-ferry/
    which makes daily trips between HIHF and several places on the AT between Pen-Mar and Thorton Gap; as well as trips between there and other hostels on the East Coast. I made an online reservation with this service, pre-paid with a credit card, and got exactly what they promised. BTW, you can use this service without staying at HIHF.

    I have not stayed at many hostels, and this is my first experience with the Hostelling International "brand." I was quite satisfied with the price, amenities, and friendliness of HIHF; and can recommend it as a place to consider for a stay.

  2. #2

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    Golden Bear....we arrived right after you'd left, and I was disappointed at missing the chance to meet you. Also we were hoping you'd get one of Snacktime's Trail Magic Bags on your return as Loretta and Brian were holding one for you. Anyway, I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the Hostel...it was one of the friendliest places I've ever stayed and would recommend it to anyone. We have part of that area we still have to cover (our hike was interrupted) so it's likely we'll stay there again. Glad your shakedown was an overall success, and I look forward to reading more of your journals.
    "Maybe life isn't about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it's about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it."

  3. #3
    GA-ME 2011
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    The C&O Canal National Park and they will not allow the hostel to place signs or blazes to guide you. There are some old blue blazes on the guard rail and telephone poles along the road walk though.
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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