If I discovered something from my travels on the Appalachian Path, Pacific Crest Path, and Continental Divide Path, it’s that mountain climbing them could be nigh not possible if not for the communities that host and rejuvenate hikers alongside the best way. On this article, I’ll spotlight my 5 favourite cities on the Triple Crown.
Please understand that this record is totally subjective and primarily based on my private expertise, wants, and mountain climbing fashion. I maintain city visits fast, gentle, and inexpensive and keep away from taking zeroes at practically all prices. Relating to resupply, it’s price noting that my mountain climbing associate on the CDT and I’ve plant-based dietary wants.
I don’t know what I don’t know that I don’t know.
Though I knew to look out for a handful of locations on every of the Triple Crown trails, I deliberately stored from studying an excessive amount of prematurely so I’d expertise every city within the second, with out prejudice.
I spent probably the most time in cities on the PCT, however coming from the west, I used to be conversant in a lot of them already. I hiked the AT rapidly, and whereas I visited many a hostel, the one zeroes I took have been in NYC (by means of Pawling, NY). Cities on the CDT have been probably the most refreshing shock: some have been as desolate as rumored, whereas others have been welcome surprises.
Whatever the particulars, a very good path city will you should definitely go away you feeling such as you need to keep one other day.
Pacific Crest Path
About: Idyllwild is a quaint trip city located within the San Jacinto Mountains, excessive above the desert flooring of Southern California. It’s well-known by PCT hikers for its cooler temperatures, pine timber, and treacherous snow in early spring. The neighborhood’s solely two mayors have each been golden retrievers, each named Max (RIP Max II).
Accessibility: Not like most cities on the PCT, Idyllwild is just a few miles’ stroll from the official redline. Take into account it’s a getaway location for a lot of residents of Southern California, so weekends and holidays can really feel crowded.
Meals: Idyllwild has quite a few eating places, together with not less than one vegan eatery, a number of pubs, and a pizza joint. You’ll be able to’t go fallacious.
Resupply: Resupply choices are plentiful in Idyllwild, together with a number of well being meals shops. Even hikers with dietary wants shouldn’t have any points resupplying right here.
Outfitters: A number of gear outlets on the town cater on to the thru-hiker base, comparable to Nomad Ventures.
Lodging: Idyllwild has no dearth of locations to remain. Inns, cabin leases, and campsites dot the city map. Lodging can get a bit costly right here, so I like to recommend sharing a cabin along with your path household if potential.
Facilities: This city has acquired all of it. Even should you don’t have a resort, there’s a native laundromat, and the city ought to have ample cell protection for these of us who don’t have entry to Wi-Fi. The kicker for me? Idyllwild has its personal movie theater.
My Expertise: I used to be completely beat once I arrived in Idyllwild in 2016. The stroll from Mike’s Place to Paradise Valley Café was the longest day I’d ever had on path at that time, and my ft have been blistered to bloody stumps. My associates and I hitched into city and secured a cabin on the Idyllwild Inn for 2 nights.
It was excellent: due to the proximity of companies, every little thing I wanted was inside a five-minute stroll. I secured sufficient ice cream, beer, and tortilla chips to final me my keep and holed as much as relaxation. Whereas there, I bought a brand new pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters (the clear signal of any new PCT hiker) and watched Captain America: Civil Struggle on the large display screen. The general appeal, location, and facilities left a long-lasting impression on me.
About: Stehekin is a tiny neighborhood on the shores of Lake Chelan close to North Cascades Nationwide Park. It is likely one of the northernmost communities and resupply factors on the Pacific Crest Path. Moreover being surrounded by dramatic peaks and tall timber at each angle, Lake Chelan itself is the third deepest lake in america.
Accessibility: A part of its appeal is its remoteness: Stehekin is simply accessible by foot, boat, or floatplane. PCT hikers hoping to go to Stehekin should take a shuttle from Excessive Bridge. Simply make sure that to plan accordingly—the shuttles solely run at particular occasions.
Resupply: The General Store at the Lodge at Stehekin has apparently grown its choices in recent times. Nevertheless, the shop’s stock has traditionally been extraordinarily restricted, and most hikers would do effectively to mail a package deal to the submit workplace as an alternative.
Facilities: Showers and laundry can be found on the town. Stehekin’s location makes it general some of the scenic communities on the Triple Crown path system.
My expertise: I rolled into Stehekin on 9/11/16 after an arduous, wet trek from Stevens Move. By some means I managed to make use of a payphone whereas doing my laundry to name my dad and mom, though the telephone didn’t look like a dependable possibility on the time. The campsite I stayed at was lovely and ignored Lake Chelan. I picked up my package deal from the PO Monday morning earlier than taking the shuttle again to path. (The final retailer didn’t supply a lot in the best way of resupply, not to mention champagne, a lot to the frustration of soon-to-be PCT finishers.)
On the best way out, each hiker on the shuttle hit the bakery. To be clear, the hype surrounding the bakery is totally actual. I took three cinnamon rolls (the final of which I consumed on the Canadian border a couple of days later), a sticky bun, and two Pink Bulls out of there with a smile on my face. It was the right approach to cap my first thru-hike.
About: Damascus is well-known within the long-distance mountain climbing neighborhood for being house to Trail Days, an annual gathering of hikers, volunteers, and kit distributors to have fun the neighborhood and stewardship of the Appalachian Path. It has been appropriately dubbed “Path City USA.” Damascus stands deep on the southern fringe of Virginia, making it an iconic waypoint for NOBOs and a reminder that the path is sort of completed for SOBOs.
Accessibility: It’s straight on path! In truth, the AT takes you down the primary drag of city, previous gear outlets, hostels, and eateries alike.
Meals: A brewery on the town isn’t a should to make this record—however it certain helps. These with dry throats can discover respite on the Damascus Brewery or the Appalachian Heritage Distillery. Mojo’s Trailside Café and Coffee is one other favourite within the mountain climbing neighborhood. In the meantime, these with appetites for typical American delicacies can get their fill at each Wicked Chicken in addition to Damascus Diner.
Resupply: There’s a Walmart in close by Abingdon and a Meals Metropolis a couple of miles outdoors of Damascus correct, which some hostel proprietors could be keen to shuttle hikers to. Simpler to entry is the Greenback Normal close to the primary drag.
Outfitters: A number of outfitters on the town guarantee greater than sufficient choices for hikers to re-up on gear wants: Damascus Outfitters, Mt Rogers Outfitters, and even a couple of bike outlets.
Lodging: Like all good path city on the AT, Damascus has a number of institutions the place drained hikers can lay their heads. I stayed at Woodchuck Hostel in what I consider was Chuck’s closing yr of operation. Different standard choices for hikers embrace Crazy Larry’s and The Broken Fiddle Hostel.
Facilities: Damascus gives every little thing the mountain climbing neighborhood may need, and it does it in fashion. Locals are as hiker-friendly as any path within the Triple Crown circuit. Native companies are laced with historical past and colloquial aptitude. I notably prefer it as a considerable relaxation alternative earlier than hikers start their first miles within the AT’s longest state.
My Expertise: Again in March of 2018, I spent the night time not removed from the TN/VA border. It was moist and muddy, and neither of my lighters would work, so I used to be wanting ahead to staying on the town. Woodchuck’s Hostel provided me a heat mattress in addition to a resupply alternative at Walmart. The nice individuals at Damascus Outfitters helped me repair a zipper situation on my sleeping bag.
I ate my fill of Woodchuck’s do-it-yourself sizzling breakfast the next morning earlier than strolling some 28 miles via snow to Thomas Knob shelter. Contemplating the slog I’d quickly face via recent powder within the Grayson Highlands, the respite I obtained in Damascus was invaluable.
Continental Divide Path
Steamboat Springs, CO
About: Steamboat Springs is a ski neighborhood and the final resupply possibility for NOBO hikers in Colorado. It’s recognized for its world-class snowboarding, pure sizzling springs, and watersport alternatives on the Yampa River. Because of its proximity to the Wyoming border, Steamboat Springs, CO, and Encampment, WY, are typically regarded as the unofficial midway factors on the CDT.
Accessibility: “The Boat” is a few 30-minute drive west of the CDT at Rabbit Ears Move. NOBOs should endure a number of hours of street strolling alongside US Route 40 earlier than reaching the hitching intersection. SOBOs should navigate the Mt. Zirkel wilderness earlier than arriving on the freeway. Given its prevalent outside tradition and strong transportation nexus, hitching out of Rabbit Ears Move to Steamboat Springs is comparatively straightforward for a lot of hikers.
Meals: The culinary delights of Steamboat Springs assist elevate it over most communities on the Divide. Vaqueros Mexican hit the spot, though it was barely missing when in comparison with the Mexican delicacies of New Mexico. Winona’s Restaurant and Bakery delighted me with a delicious scramble, in addition to the most effective cinnamon rolls on your complete Divide (the five-layer bar wasn’t unhealthy both). These two companies have been however a style of the choices obtainable down Steamboat’s foremost drag.
Resupply: Among the many many resupply choices in Steamboat Springs, I most popular to buy at City Market. I notably loved quaffing a half gallon of Blue Bunny ice cream, which I’ve by no means seen within the PNW (eat your coronary heart out, Tillamook).
Outfitters: Most gear aficionados like to go to BAP! headquarters (aka the Large Agnes manufacturing facility retailer). The outside model is a long-time staple in Steamboat Springs that has a wide-ranging affect on the outside trade. Straightline Sports presents some primary necessities however principally caters to front-country tenting and fishing.
I’d argue the Ski Haus is the perfect clothes shop for thru-hikers on the town: I exchanged some worn Darn Robust socks, purchased new footwear, and had my trekking poles tightened there. The workers on the Ski Haus have been pleasant and educated about thru-hiker wants, given the clothes shop’s proximity to each the CDT and the Colorado Path.
Lodging: A number of chain motels, in addition to some higher-end resorts, dot the city. Many hikers want the Rabbit Ears Motel on account of its pricing and site. There’s additionally a KOA on the skin of city. For hikers hoping to get out and in of city in someday, there are some pleasant campsites on the CDT lower than a mile north of Rabbit Ears Move.
Facilities: Whether or not posting up for true relaxation or taking a leisurely zero, Steamboat has every little thing you would want. Moreover eateries and kit outlets, the Yampa River runs via city and is a enjoyable function to discover. I additionally suggest the Yampa River Botanic Park for individuals who have additional time.
My Expertise: Cleansweep and I have been on a mission to achieve Steamboat Springs as early as potential to maximise our time. That meant mountain climbing 30+ miles by the early afternoon, arriving at Rabbit Ears Move simply in time to amass a hitch from some down-to-earth locals. In Steamboat correct, we stayed with my buddy and former coworker, Anna.
On the town, I mailed house additional garments I had for Colorado, purchased new footwear, changed my socks, and ate my coronary heart out. Leaving Steamboat was one among my solely true neros on your complete path—we hiked lower than three miles after hitching out within the night the next day, permitting our our bodies most relaxation earlier than venturing into Wyoming and past.
Silver Metropolis, NM
About: Silver Metropolis is situated on the northern fringes of the Chihuahuan Desert and serves because the county seat for Grant County. It boomed within the 1800s as a mining neighborhood however has since transitioned right into a city recognized for its southwestern tradition and recreation alternatives.
Accessibility: Right here’s the excellent news: it’s on the official CDT redline. The path runs straight via Silver Metropolis earlier than veering north towards the Gila River. Right here’s the unhealthy information: the northbound redline includes a street stroll alongside US Freeway 180 for a number of hours.
Meals: The meals in Silver Metropolis is maybe the perfect of your complete New Mexico part of the CDT. LA Cocina Restaurant was one among my favourite Mexican meals all summer season. We loved beneficiant parts and (fairly stable) beer at Little Toad Creek Brewery for dinner. I loved a plate of sugary French toast and a chilly beer for breakfast at Adobe Springs Café and left glad. Lastly, as I set off for the Gila River, I chowed down on a deliciously thick and savory sandwich from Chaos.
Resupply: There’s a Walmart on the sting of downtown. Silver City Food Basket is nearer to path for individuals who need to stroll much less. Some hikers may want the Silver City Food Co-op downtown—however remember they don’t have many plastic water bottle choices.
Outfitters: The city’s two gear shops ought to meet all of your wants: Gila Hike & Bike, which provided a shocking quantity of long-trail-themed gear that was not particular to the CDT, and Morning Star Sports.
Lodging: Not removed from path is an RV park for individuals who want to save lots of money. Alternatively, keep downtown on the Palace Hotel or the Murray Hotel. I cut up a room on the Palace with two different hikers and was glad with the worth there. Sadly, Triple Crown Hostel closed for good in Could of 2022.
Facilities: With its murals and native appeal, Silver Metropolis seems like a mining city reinvented as a hippy, artsy neighborhood that serves because the jumping-off level for a lot of would-be hikers or bikers desperate to leap into the desert panorama. Lordsburg is nearer to Loopy Prepare dinner and presents something a hiker would want, however Silver Metropolis seems like the primary iconic neighborhood on the Divide.
My Expertise: I camped on the final water supply earlier than US Freeway 180, then wakened at 4 a.m. to do the street stroll into city. The path from Lordsburg had been robust on me and the opposite hikers in my get together, so we have been all desperate to crush the flat terrain and maximize our time in civilization.
Silver Metropolis provided every little thing I’d ever want from an in a single day on the town: resupply, a brand new water filter, culinary delights, a stable resort room, and even some Star Wars unique trilogy on the TV. Earlier than venturing into the Gila Wilderness, I nabbed a meal with Turquoise, a hiker I met on the PCT who does path angel work on the CDT.
- Shasta, CA: Stunning city, superior outside tradition and kit, and much to do —simply not nice lodging and never very walkable.
- Ashland, OR: Indexes excessive in each class, simply doesn’t supply the identical degree of small-town appeal as its rivals on the PCT.
- Bend, OR: Incredible metropolis with the perfect beer on the Triple Crown, however could be costly and is way from path.
- Sizzling Springs, NC: Loads of locations to remain and nice eating places, however I felt it wasn’t definitely worth the in a single day on account of its location.
- Hanover, NH: Is situated on path, has nice eating places and outside tradition—only a bit crowded and costly (Dartmouth = school city).
- Pagosa Springs, CO: This was the toughest neighborhood to depart off the record. It’s a good looking city with superior water options and nice resupply/eating places. But it surely’s only a bit too costly, and the PO is an extended stroll from most motels.
- Lander, WY: Maybe the perfect hospitality I skilled on path with a number of meals and resupply choices, outside tradition and kit (NOLS HQ), and so on. Simply too robust a hitch from path to make the record.
Featured picture: Photograph through Joseph Gonzalez. Graphic design by Zack Goldmann.