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
Photo Credit: Chantal Bannayan, @cookwithchan
- 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.
Luray / Page County
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson
- Midway point between Front Royal and Waynesboro
- Showers available at Luray Fitness Center ($5) or United Methodist Church (free)
- Meals to go, packaged with a backpack in mind, are available at many restaurants
- Tent space specifically for AT hikers is provided behind the Warehouse Art Gallery (free)
- “A.T” Hiker’s Special” available weeknights at South Court Inn, if you could use a night of modern amenities
Elkton/ Rockingham County
- The town of Elkton is located about six miles west of the Appalachian Trail.
- To-go meals are available at many local restaurants.
- Stock up on supplies and hiking gear at Appalachian Trail Outfitters in Downtown Elkton.
- Supplies and food available at Bear Grocery/Country Store & Deli, 3 miles from the trail.
- Camping and showers available at Swift Run Campground.
Waynesboro / Augusta County
Photo Credit: Mark Miller
- Two miles west of the Trail.
- The town of Waynesboro is very hiker-friendly, with businesses welcoming hikers and taking part in the A.T. Community Supporter Program.
- Grocery, library and post office are easily accessible from the Trail.
- Basic City Beer Co. offers showers to hikers.
- The New Ming Garden Buffet & Grill is a popular spot for A.T. hikers, as their all-you-can-eat buffet is affordable and delicious.
- Waynesboro has a campsite located at the 600 block of Race Avenue, designated for A.T. thru-hikers only with a three-day max stay.
- Stanimal’s 328 Hostel is another cost-effective option for A.T. thru-hikers looking for a break from sleeping under the stars.
- Shower and overnight camping at the YMCA.
- 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.
- 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.
- There are over a half dozen craft breweries within Nelson, with three breweries a good side trip between Afton and Reeds Gap.
Buena Vista / Rockbridge County
Photo Credit: Antonio Albano
- 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
Photo Credit: Lucas Moore
- 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.
- Three Li’l Pigs BBQ & Angelle’s Diner are great options for affordable restaurants with large portions.
- Holiday Inn Express Troutville – Roanoke North thru hiker nightly rate $99/king or $109 2 queens.
- Outdoor Trails is a great shop to replace or purchase new supplies.
Downtown Roanoke / Salem / Catawba Valley
Photo Credit: Shannon Terry
- Shuttle recommended to main street
- Mac and Bob’s, Macado’s, El Jefe are ideal dining options for hikers. For a unique dessert, head to Champloo Desserts.
- Stop by Olde Salem Brewing and Parkway Brewing Co. to try some Virginia craft beers.
- Replace hiking gear at Walkabout Outfitters.
Pearisburg / Giles County
- More than 50 miles of A.T. runs through Giles County.
- There are several hiker hostels available – Woods Hole Hostel, Holy Family Hostel, and Angel’s Rest Hiker’s Haven.
Narrows / Giles County
- Narrows is the intersection of the A.T. and the Great Eastern Trail.
- When you need a warm place to rest and shower, the MacArthur Inn welcomes hikers.
- Shuttle back to the trail is available.
Bland County / Wythe County
- Wythe County holds some of the most remote yet scenic miles of the Appalachian Trail, making it ideal for hikers looking for rugged terrain and potential wildlife viewings.
- 56 miles of the Trail winds through Bland County.
- Trail Angels available for shuttling hikers to/from the Trail.
- Two major Bland County annual festivals incorporate the importance of the Trail to the community: Festival of Trails and Festival of Leaves.
Marion / Smyth County
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
- 78 miles of the Trail courses through Smyth County
- Seven miles from the Trail
- Home of Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak at 5,729′
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
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson
- Connected to the AT by a 12-mile segment of The Virginia Creeper Trail, a scenic downhill biking and hiking trail voted #1 Rail-Trail by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
- Walkable historic district features plenty of restaurants, outfitters and lodging, from the Hobo Hostel to the 4-Diamond Martha Washington Inn & Spa (2 blocks from the Creeper trailhead).
- Multiple shuttle options from Abingdon to Damascus provided by local outfitters.
- Take in a show at the historic Barter Theatre, or catch live music at Abingdon Vineyards or Wolf Hills Brewing Co.
Explore and enjoy Virginia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail soon!