Small Towns Along the Appalachian Trail: Top 10?
If you're planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail, you'll soon have a front-row seat to some of the nicest tiny communities in America.
If you're planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail, you'll soon have a front-row seat to some of the nicest tiny communities in America. Although getting on and off the route to see a couple of these charming towns may lengthen your excursion, we assure you that the extra effort will be well worth it. Read on to learn about 10 of our favourite trailside communities located along the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, ideal for "thru-hikers" and day-trippers alike.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
This sleepy town has a population of 1,157 and seems like it was plucked from a country song, what with its mountain views and lakeside cottages. There is a wide variety of places to stay, despite the town's relatively modest size. If relaxing at a hotel with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying a drink or meal seems like your idea of a perfect day off the trail, you should check out the new Hampton Inn Blue Ridge.
Visit one of just three operating drive-in theatres in the state of Georgia, Swan Drive-In, for a night of amusement. If you have more time, take a trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway from the town's old station on a train that travels 26 miles through the lush scenery. Mercier Orchards has the freshest apples, and we'd be remiss if we didn't recommend eating at Black Sheep or Harvest on Main.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
In addition to having four miles of the Appalachian Trail run through it, this little town of just 285 people also has the headquarters of the charity Appalachian Trail Conservancy, where you can pick up trail guides and maps, get information from friendly locals, and even pick up a few souvenirs. The city is also significant due to its historical significance. It was here in 1859 that John Brown led his expedition in an effort to incite a slave uprising, an event that many saw as a "dress rehearsal" for the Civil War.
Brown's fort is only one of several historical monuments in the area, including St. Peter's Catholic Church (the only church in town not destroyed by Union forces) and the site of the early Civil War skirmish, The Battle of Bolivar Heights (1861). The natural setting and the recreated 19th-century manufacturing hamlet at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park are other popular tourist destinations in the area. After giving your feet a good rest, you may visit the park's Jefferson Rock overlook or The Point to see the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.
You may go whitewater rafting or tubing on the Potomac River with River Riders, or you can visit their aerial adventure park and zip-lining course, which has a 1,000-foot zip line above the river, if you're looking for some excitement during your layover. The Rabbit Hole serves American classics and has a patio perfect for socialising, while The Anvil is known for its giant lump crab cakes and hot crab dip. Visit the 1839 Stonehouse B&B for a "doily-free environment" and the quaint Town's Inn for a more traditional feel.
North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway, New Hampshire, is 28 miles south of New Hampshire's most famous mountain, Mount Washington, and the wonderful people who live there are accustomed to receiving Appalachian Trail hikers. If you're looking for a relaxing massage after your trek at Sacred Circle Wellness or a celebratory pint and burger at Delaney's Hole in the Wall, you've come to the perfect place.
Stay at the North Conway Grand Hotel, a hideaway in the White Mountains that really comes into its own during the autumn when the foliage is at its most colourful. And if you fall in love with the place, you should definitely come back in the winter for a ski trip. Wildcat Mountain is one of the few ski resorts in the state, and it is located in this town thanks to the work of Civilian Conservation Corps volunteers in the 1930s. (It's also a peak you hike by after leaving Mount Washington on the Appalachian Trail.)
Cortlandt, New York
With a population of almost 42,000, Cortlandt is one of the larger towns phrazle on our list. Despite its size, though, this Hudson River hamlet maintains a quaint, rural atmosphere. George Washington's army crossed the Hudson River at Kings Ferry, which is located between Stony Point and Verplanck's Point, on their way to Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, therefore the pleasant location has a rich Revolutionary War history.
Plan your trip so that you may enjoy Cortlandt Waterfront Park's grass and fishing pier after a day of shopping at the Market on the River in Verplanck (approximately five miles distant). Spend the night at The Abbey Inn, located only four miles away in nearby Peekskill. The old Episcopal Sisters of Saint Mary's convent from 1902 is now a boutique hotel with a farm-to-table restaurant, bar, and spa called Apropos.
The Berkshires host a wide variety of world-class cultural events and institutions, such as the Mass MoCA, the Clark Art Institute, and Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937. While areas like rural Monterey and trendy North Adams are great, we're inclined to Adams because of its rich history.
About 8,170 people call this little hamlet home; it was here that women's rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony was born. Mount Greylock, the state's highest peak at 3,489 feet, is located here as well. Enjoy a substantial dinner at the Miss Adams Diner on your trip to Adams, and if camping on Mount Greylock isn't your thing, stay at the TOURISTS in North Adams, a posh take on the classic American wayside motel.
Bristol has an estimated population of 16,912, but because to its rich history in country music, the city seems much larger. Indeed, in 1998, Congress officially recognised it as "The Birthplace of Country Music." Go to Lumac, the only rooftop bar in town, at The Bristol Hotel after seeing a concert. Or, relax at the Original Burger Bar, where Hank Williams, Sr. was reportedly spotted for the final time. Tours to the old Bristol Caverns, formed by nature over 200 million years ago, come highly recommended as well.
And if you can time your visit to coincide with the Appalachian Trail Days Festival in nearby Damascus, that would be ideal. Thousands of hikers and supporters gather for the event each year to partake in activities including a hiker talent show, a procession with a marching band, a bonfire, drumming, and dancing.
Bryson City, North Carolina
Bryson City may not be well-known, but it certainly should be thanks to its picturesque downtown and abundance of locally-owned businesses, including stores, breweries, and restaurants. Located in western North Carolina, this mountain community serves as the primary access point to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's southern boundary. Hikers may find cheap, hostel-style housing in Bryson City, but if they're looking for something fancier, we recommend the Everett Hotel, which overlooks the charming town centre.
The town's manageable size means that tourists can get about on foot, whether they're checking out Jimmy Mac's Restaurant or Buttermilk Farms Antiques. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains Railway for a gorgeous trip, or hire a rafting guide to take you down the Nantahala River Gorge if you want to stay for a while.
Vernon, New Jersey
Vernon, a little village in Northern New Jersey on the AT, more than lives up to its reputation for quaintness. After logging a tonne of miles, reward yourself at Mountain Creek Resort with snow tubing, a treetop aerial adventure park, or a zip line trip. Visit Heaven Hill Farm or Pochuk Valley Farms to go apple or pumpkin picking, or relax with a drink of wine, cider, or spirits at Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery while listening to live music.
The town's Appalachian Boardwalk and Stairway to Heaven Trail, both of which lead to the Appalachian Trail, are particularly lovely in the spring (but be prepared to gasp at the Pinwheel Vista). This part of the Garden State becomes very crowded in the summer and winter, so you may want to visit then.
The 5,700 locals here in this slice of paradise in Smyth County are excited to have you stay with them. Vacation in style in a luxurious property in town, such the contemporary farmhouse jewel The Lucille, or relax in a rustic A-frame cabin on Spenceville Farms' 200-acre working farm. Explore the downtown of "America's Coolest Hometown," where you'll find a wide variety of locally owned eateries and unique shops.
Don't leave town without filling up on a hot dog at the Dip Dog Stand, a local institution for the last 65 years. The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts offers a guitar-building class, perfect for satisfying your inner artist. Grayson Highlands State Park, home to free-roaming horses, is accessible from Smyth County as well.
Hanover, New Hampshire
There are just ten communities along the whole length of the AT where Main Street and the route meet at a crossroads, but hikers passing through Hanover won't be able to miss it since the path runs straight through the middle of town. Take advantage of the Hood Museum of Art, which just underwent an expansion, and the Hopkins Centre for the Performing Arts while you're in town.
Start your day with coffee from the Dirt Cowboy Café, and after you've worked up an appetite, stop by Molly's Restaurant & Bar for some of the best thin-crust wood-fired pizza and a hot fudge sundae you've ever tasted. After a long day of trekking, relax comfortably at The Hanover Inn.