Good for the Sole – Heartwarming Stories from an Appalachian Trail Community

The 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.) travels through 14 states on its course from Georgia to Maine.  A thru-hike along the length of the A.T. challenges hikers both physically and mentally and is frequently described as “life-changing.” 540 miles of the A.T. wind through Virginia, more than through any other state, and hikers often refer to the infamous “Virginia Blues” – the feeling that they’re not making progress and the state will never end.  Appalachian Trail Communities like Waynesboro, Virginia, know how important support and rejuvenation are to the weary hiker.

“We had a great trail magic moment on Mother’s Day when we were hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A local woman brought an amazing spread of sandwiches, pastries, chips, fresh fruit, and drinks to a place where the trail crossed the Parkway. She kept saying, ‘Call your mothers and let them know that there’s another mother out here taking care of you!’ It was so sweet.”  ~ Staige Davis and Andrea Parra, thru-hikers

We Are Hikers, Too!

Waynesboro is a community with a deep appreciation of our magnificent surroundings.  Some of us have lived here in the Shenandoah Valley all of our lives, and some of us have relocated here because of the area’s breathtaking greenways and blueways.  We live just 3 miles from the Appalachian Trail, and we’re out there hiking the trail, maintaining the trail, and even designing mountain gear and hammocks for the trail.  We share a great respect for those who choose to walk this exhilarating and humbling path and look forward to being a part of your Appalachian Trail story!

When you come off the trail to rest your feet and your soul, stop by the Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center for information on shuttles into town and to the thru-hiker campground, as well as other services you might need.  Stanimal’s 328 Hostel & Shuttle Service is a popular treat for the trail-weary.  Owner Adam Stanley is himself a veteran of the A.T. and his own experience with a Trail Angel inspired him to open two hiker hostels in the area.  A community that understands the specific demands of the trail can be priceless for those trekking far from the resources and comforts of home.

“I had identified a tailor who could probably sew the pack strap for me; but, Adam, the proprietor of Stanimal’s suggested we go to Rockfish Gap Outfitters first. RGO is an authorized Osprey Packs dealer. Adam thought they might be able to talk to Osprey and see if anything could be done (my pack is an Osprey Exos 58). Osprey offers a pretty amazing guarantee. Jack from RGO got on the phone with Osprey and 15 minutes later I was walking out the front door with a brand new replacement pack. Woo hoo!… I was back on the trail.” ~ Beaker, 2017 Thru Hiker
Stanimal’s and Rockfish Gap Outfitters to the rescue.
“I met David Young at Graham’s Shoe Service and asked his opinion about a couple of boot issues. He was fabulous, and fixed the toes of both boots where the sole was pulling away from the upper.  It was a relief to have this work done.” ~ Karen Edwards, hiker
Graham’s Shoe Service is the A.T. hiker’s best friend, providing boot, tent, pack and raincoat repair.
“Life is too short and the Appalachian Trail is too long not to have a meal at the best Chinese buffet anywhere.” ~ Robert J. Sutherland, travel writer from Georgia

Food is, of course, an important topic of conversation among the hiking community.  Mention of Waynesboro’s delicious and filling dining options are mentioned in hiker blogs the world over.  Jake’s Bar & Grill’s “magnificent hamburgers,” as one hiker from Spain describes them, are widely appreciated, as is the dog-friendly outdoor patio at Heritage on Main Street.  And if you’ve read your share of A.T. guide books, you no doubt already know that Waynesboro is the home of “The Best Chinese Buffet on the Entire A.T.,” New Ming Garden Buffet and Grill.

“At Basic City we like to surround ourselves with people that have drive, endurance, and a passion for the sublime. A.T. hikers embody these attributes. We built a shower for hikers coming off the trail. We also have a lot of regulars that are Trail Angels.” ~ Bart Lanman, co-owner of Basic City Beer Co.

Our breweries, restaurants, and merchants are just a few of the reasons you should plan to take a zero (a day off during a long-distance hike in which zero miles are walked) in Waynesboro, VA!  Check out our Guide for A.T. Hikers for additional resources and advice on where to sleep, shower, rest, recharge, stock up, and kick back.  After a stop in Waynesboro, you’ll be ready to step back out onto the trail to continue your journey of a lifetime!