Quaint Towns to Visit Along the Appalachian Trail

North Conway, New Hampshire


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North Conway, New Hampshire

Pit Stop

Not everyone has the gumption to hike the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a trek commonly known as a thru-hike. But if you’re tackling one of the world’s most epic hiking trails, you’ll likely make some strategic pit stops in towns along the way. And if you’re not? Even if you’re just planning a day hike, there are a handful of quaint towns along the way that are worth a visit, from Monson in Maine to Helen in Georgia. Happy hiking!

Related: 20 Must-Haves for Your Next Weekend Hike

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in West Virginia
Matt Anderson/istockphoto

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

One of the most notable names along the Appalachian Trail, Harpers Ferry is home to the Harpers Ferry Visitor Center — the “psychological midpoint” where hikers often snap a photo for posterity’s sake. It’s also a unique historical destination, one where visitors can stop by the location of 1861's Battle of Bolivar Heights (an early Civil War battle) and explore Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, featuring a 19th century village. A handful of hikes on and off the A.T. are scattered throughout the area, including a popular 13.6-mile out-and-back hike from Keys Gap to Harpers Ferry.

Related: The Best Small Towns to Visit Across America

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts

The Appalachian Trail runs through this small, artsy town in Western Massachusetts, where summer concerts and art museums are plentiful. Visit Mass MoCA, a contemporary art museum, for seminal works by James Turrell and Sol LeWitt, or check out the farmers market and smaller art galleries in the center of town. Section hikers can hike along the Mohawk Trail, or challenge themselves to a hike up Mount Greylock. 

Related: 32 Charming Small Towns With Stunning Fall Colors

Helen, Georgia

Helen, Georgia

No, you haven’t landed in a German village. Helen is a Bavarian-style town located a 15-minute drive away from Unicoi Gap, a popular route on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Though there are only 500 residents who live in Helen, it’s Georgia’s third-most visited city. Northbound thru-hikers and day hikers alike can rest and resupply before visiting some of Helen’s most popular attractions: Babyland General Hospital, home to the Cabbage Patch Dolls; the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia; and Anna Ruby Falls

Related: 25 Quirky Small Towns Across America

Fall Leaves and Tree-lined Sidewalk in Manchester Village Vermont

Manchester, Vermont

Just 4 miles from the Appalachian Trail, Manchester offers plenty of opportunities to either escape to the mountains or explore its vibrant streets. The Southern Vermont Arts Center features exhibits, art classes, and live events, while clothing and gear shops can outfit thru-hikers with some last-minute necessities. Keep an eye out for “hiker friendly” signs around town, which indicate that a business caters to hikers. 

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Winding Mountain Road near Hot Springs in Western North Carolina
Eifel Kreutz/istockphoto

Hot Springs, North Carolina

As its name suggests, this charming North Carolina town is home to a hot spring, found at the Hot ​​Springs Resort & Spa. Thru-hikers and visitors can take a warm mineral bath in the springs, then take a trip to one of the various monarch butterfly migration points to get a glimpse at the annual migration passing through North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway. For a short but challenging hike, hop on the 2-mile Lover’s Leap Trail, which overlooks Hot Springs from high above a rocky bluff.

Related: Best Natural Hot Springs

Aerial View of the Virginia Creeper Trail
Eifel Kreutz/istockphoto

Damascus, Virginia

Damascus is often referred to as Trail Town USA — and for good reason: Seven nationally recognized trails intersect within its borders, a dream for passionate hikers. Popular trails include the Damascus History Trail and part of the Appalachian Trail that runs toward the Tennessee-Virginia border. There’s plenty to do outside of hiking, too, like riding bikes along the Virginia Creeper Trail and dining at the 7 Trails Grill

Roadside Farmers Market

Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania

A.T. hikers and day visitors will find boundless hospitality in Delaware Water Gap, a town that used to be a resort community. Learn more about the town’s history at the Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery, housed in a 1850 brick school house, or attend the Celebration of the Arts Jazz Fest, which takes place every summer. Thru-hikers should make it a priority to stop at the  Church of the Mountain hostel, which holds weekly potlucks for those passing through. 

Sweet days of summer

Vernon, New Jersey

Visitors to Vernon, located in Northeast New Jersey, will find scenic views along the Pochuck Boardwalk and Stairway to Heaven Trail, both part of the Appalachian Trail. Back in town, take the kids to Mountain Creek Water Park, go on a zip-line tour, or pop across the border to New York for some live music and a drink at Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery.

Autumn in Bennington, Vermont

Bennington, Vermont

Established in 1749, Bennington was Vermont’s first town, and today showcases a historic downtown area with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and museums. Highlights include the Bennington Museum, Bennington Battle Monument, and Robert Frost Stone House Museum, though there’s plenty to do out in nature as well. Both the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail run close to Bennington, while the Green Mountain Express, a local bus system, offers rides from the A.T. trailhead to downtown Bennington. 

View on the center of Hannover

Hanover, New Hampshire

One of just a few towns where the Appalachian Trail runs down Main Street, Hanover is a welcoming town for A.T. thru-hikers and day hikers alike. Located in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley, Hanover’s nearby attractions include the Montshire Museum Of Science, Harpoon Brewery, and the Hood Museum of Art. Hanover residents are so committed to fostering a welcoming environment that they formed the Hanover Area Friends of the A.T., a group that has installed road signs to help hikers find their way around important landmarks, set up weekly community dinners, and reblazed the trail through town. 

Lakeshore in the sun in Monson Maine
Christina Gessler/istockphoto

Monson, Maine

Monson is the last town before the Appalachian Trail’s Hundred Mile Wilderness, known for being the wildest section of the A.T. For many hikers, it’s a welcoming stop, one filled with shopping, restaurants, and a growing arts community. Learn about local hikes at the Monson Appalachian Trail Visitor Center, peruse artwork at the Monson Arts Gallery, and have a cold beer on a hot day at Turning Page Farm Brewery.

Blue Ridge Mountains at Sunset in North Georgia
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Just 90 miles north of Atlanta, Blue Ridge offers easy access to the Appalachian Trail at the top of Springer Mountain. Tackle a day hike that passes by sparkling waterfalls, or hike to the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River where you can find kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Back in town, take a wine or brewery tour, attend a music festival, or get pampered at one of Blue Ridge’s spa and wellness centers. 

North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway, New Hampshire

Whether you’re hiking the entire A.T. or attempting New Hampshire’s famed Mount Washington, North Conway is an excellent town to explore. Visitors who stop by in the fall are rewarded with gorgeous fall foliage in the White Mountains, while winter offers plenty of skiing and snowboarding options. Otherwise, fill your days with mini-golf, shopping, a pint at one of the local pubs, and a massage at Sacred Circle Wellness to relax after a day summiting a nearby peak.

Tennessee/Virginia State Line, Middle of State Street
John M. Chase/istockphoto

Bristol, Virginia

With the trail running just east of Bristol, this Virginia town is a frequent destination for outdoor enthusiasts. And it’s not all about hiking: The Mendota Trail is a rails-to-trail project that currently offers two segments, including a 6.1 mile route between Bristol and Benhams. Other outdoor activities include golfing, fishing, and exploring the Bristol Caverns. The town also has a burgeoning craft beer scene, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and the Blue Ridge Comedy Club.

Landscape view of Warwick's quaint shopping district on Main Street.
Brian Logan/istockphoto

Warwick, New York

This charming town off the A.T. offers a bevy of places to explore year-round. In the fall, visit Warwick for its famous Applefest. On hot summer days, grab an ice cream cone from Bellvale Farms Creamery, located just off the Appalachian Trail at the top of Mount Peter, or stop by the Warwick Farmers Market on Sundays from May until November. In the winter, downhill and cross-country skiing are available nearby.

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