by Casey | Posted on June 25th, 2013
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a bucket list item for many people, but it’s a long journey that tests stamina and perseverance. With a literal uphill challenge like the A.T., communities that embrace hikers are a welcome and much-needed resource. To recognize those communities that promote and protect the A.T., the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has established the Appalachian Trail Community™ designation program.
An Appalachian Trail Community™ promises to meet certain criteria, which may include hosting an annual Trail event or celebration, providing a Trail education or service-learning project, or incorporating language that will protect the Trail in land-use plans and ordinances, etc. Communities are asked why they should be selected and how the town embraces and supports the Trail. An opportunity to recognize hiker-friendly services is provided as well. With the knowledge that each community has been properly vetted by the Conservancy, hikers can rest assured they will be warmly received and the community serves as an active steward of the Trail.
Get to Know Each Virginia Appalachian Trail Community™
Front Royal / Warren County
- 30 miles of Trail runs through the county.
- Front Royal is three miles west of the Trail crossing at Route 522.
- Free showers available at the 4-H Center.
- Free internet at Samuels Public Library and Daily Grind.
- Limited hiking supplies at The Apple House and Stokes General Store.
- Various hotels, a B&B, laundromat and Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park offer additional lodging and service.
Harrisonburg / Rockingham County
- 18 miles west of the Trail.
- Hailed as a top spot for families to “beat nature deficit disorder” by Backpacker Magazine.
- Hikers are invited to participate in the Valley Fourth parade each year.
Waynesboro / Augusta County
- Two miles west of the Trail.
- Grocery, library and post office are easily accessible from the Trail.
- Shower and overnight camping at the YMCA.
- Free internet at the Waynesboro Area Learning Tree.
- Rockfish Gap Visitors Center offers maps and local information.
- Community volunteers available to shuttle hikers around town.
- The Waynesboro Circulator (bus service) welcomes A.T. hikers for 50 cents each way.
- Download “Out and About in Waynesboro,” a guide created specifically for A.T. visitors.
- 40 miles of the Trail follow the Blue Ridge Parkway through Nelson County.
- Access Nelson County from three points – Afton (BRP MP 0), Reeds Gap (BRP MP 13.5) and Route 56 (BRP MP 27.5)
- Post office access at Montebello.
- Supplies and groceries available at Montebello Country Store.
- Laundry service at Dutch Haus Bed and Breakfast in Montebello (plus the owners are Trail Angels [community volunteers])
- Three craft breweries are a good side trip between Afton and Reeds Gap.
Buena Vista / Rockbridge County
- Nine miles west of the Trail crossing at Route 60.
- Trail Angels available for shuttling to/from the Trail.
- Find a hiker’s box in the lobby of the post office where community members leave bags of food, free for your taking.
- Free showers and heavily discounted rates available at Glen Maury Park.
- Computer access at Maury River Senior Center.
- Mountain Day, the second Saturday of each October, celebrates the mountain heritage of the area, including the Trail.
Glasgow / Rockbridge County
- Hiker’s shelter was built in 2010 by a local Eagle Scout.
- A fire pit, wood, hot shower and port-a-johns are free to hikers.
- New in 2013: electrical receptacles for cell phone charging, etc.
- Bathroom and concessions available at Knick Field spring through fall.
- Laundromat near the hiker shelter.
- Free computer usage, book exchange and cheap books available at the library.
Troutville / Botetourt County
- Free showers and laundry at the Troutville Fire Department.
- Free camping and large restroom facilities available at Town Park.
- Troutville Trail Days is a major annual event held the second Friday and Saturday of June.
- Post office nearby.
- Good midway point for hikers with major thoroughfares like Interstate 81, Route 11 and Route 220.
Pearisburg / Giles County
- More than 50 miles of A.T. runs through Giles County.
- Two hiker hostels available – Woods Hole Hostel and Holy Family Hostel.
- Download the Local Hikers Guide for a list of hiker-friendly services, food and lodging.
- 56 miles of the Trail winds through the county.
- Trail Angels available for shuttling hikers to/from the Trail.
- Two major annual festivals incorporate the importance of the Trail to the community: Festival of Trails and Festival of Leaves.
Damascus / Washington County
- Widely known as “Trail Town USA,” the A.T. courses right through downtown Damascus.
- Trail Days is a major annual event that celebrates the A.T., as well as the Virginia Creeper Trail, Trans-America National Bicycle Trail and several others, with workshops, gear vendors, entertainment and more.
- A kiosk is located in Town Park to direct hikers to services. Download the printable version.
Abingdon / Washington County
- 12 miles west of the Trail.
- Take the Virginia Creeper Trail – #1 rated Rail Trail (Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine) – into Abingdon.
- Shuttle services provided by local outfitters.
Explore and enjoy Virginia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail soon!
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*Updated 6/27/13 to include Nelson County, the newest A.T. Community. -ch