Get to Know this A.T. Community
The Appalachian Trail is a 2193-mile (and growing!) test of physical and mental endurance. It is estimated that only one in four attempting the 5-7-month journey from Georgia to Maine is successful. However, the A.T. can be enjoyed in smaller segments, too. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, a “honeymoon hiker” or a “slackpacker,” the A.T. is a national treasure, and you’ll experience the wonders of nature and learn more about yourself when you’re on it. Waynesboro’s close proximity makes it an ideal location for an A.T. Community, and for years hikers have heralded it as one of the friendliest cities along the trail.
Take a break from the trail and discover the charm of downtown Waynesboro and the businesses that support the Appalachian Trail and its people!
Just three miles from the Rockfish Gap A.T. trailhead (mile 862 going northbound), Waynesboro’s amenities can easily be accessed by tired, hungry hikers who need a break from the trail. It’s also an important resupply point for hikers heading north who are about to enter the 101-mile portion of the trail running through Shenandoah National Park. If you’re section hiking, keep in mind June is when this part of the trail is busy with thru hikers.
Hikers in the middle of long treks may easily hike into town or take advantage of the Trail Angels, whose names and numbers you can be found as you approach the Rockfish Gap Trailhead or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. These kind souls are willing to help hikers get from the trailhead into town and back up to hit the trail again. They’re also excellent resources on where to eat, stay, resupply, do laundry, and more.
If you are a section hiker looking for a safe place to leave your car, email the Waynesboro Visitors’ Center at email@example.com to ask for the parking waiver and they will send you a simple form to fill out and a map of where to park your car in downtown Waynesboro, then you can call a Trail Angel to take you up to the trail.
Fuel Up First
You’re probably starving and very, very parched from your time in the woods. Refresh with a visit to Blue Ridge Bucha (taproom open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) for handcrafted, organic and fair-trade kombucha. If you need to wet your parched lips with beer, Basic City Beer Co. is the place to stop. Not only can you get fresh, craft beer, you can fill up on tasty food like Billy Pie wood-fired pizza and other shareables. Basic City also has plenty of room to spread out and fun games like skee ball in the taproom. As you make your way downtown, Delly Up is an excellent lunch spot for delightful deli sandwiches, and Sam’s Hot Dogs is a favorite of locals and hikers alike. Or if you're just craving a burger and a beer, check out The River Burger Bar for a tasty meal and free internet access while you eat.
If you need something larger than life to fill you up, we have two more ideas for you. Try a 28-inch pizza from Benny Stivale’s right on Main Street in downtown. Known for their famous “Virginia Slice,” one piece takes up two plates! Cheese, pepperoni, and sausage are always on the menu, with two other specials per month. And hikers suffering from the worst kind of “hiker hunger” can calorie load to their hearts’ content at the New Ming Garden Chinese buffet.
Where Can I Catch Some ZZZs?
Waynesboro has a number of lodging options for various types of stay. There are also several places to rest that specifically cater to A.T. hikers. If you’re feeling especially fancy, Quality Inn provides a free hot breakfast along with soft beds and hot showers. Stanimal’s 328 Hostel & Shuttle Service, which is run by experienced hikers, meets hikers’ needs with a bunk (with clean sheets), free laundry, Wi-Fi access and more. Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church opens its doors to thru hikers for two weeks during the bubble, offering a meal, a sheltered place to sleep, showers, and a strong sense of community (there is a two night limit and they are closed Saturday and Sunday). The Bowman House also offers a hiker haven and the fee includes a bunk, free breakfast, and a shuttle to the trail. The Waynesboro Parks & Recreation department provides free camping and Waynesboro YMCA lets hikers use their showers. Pick up a permit to stay in the free campground at the Waynesboro Visitors’ Center, Waynesboro YMCA, or the Waynesboro Public Library.
What Can I Do in Town?
If you decide to rest up and do a zero in Waynesboro, there’s lots to do. Get your nagging health issues tended at Augusta Health Urgent Care. Shaggy hair? River City Barbershop can clean you up and make you presentable again, plus they offer a special rate for AT hikers, just $10. Get your shoes repaired at Graham’s Shoe Service. Stock up on your favorite trail treats at Kroger. Next, head over to Rockfish Gap Outfitters for 7,000 square feet of gear. Since 1987 this store has been stuffing backpacks with hiking and camping supplies, clothing, maps, trail food, and expert advice. Looking for some reading material for the trail? Stop at Stone Soup Books for a free paperback for hikers, or head to the Waynesboro Public Library for a hiker corner with recharging stations and other handy items. Healthy Habits can hook you up with vitamins, supplements, CBD, and more to help keep you healthy out on the trail. Pyramid is hiker-friendly and offers herbal remedies, teas, scent-masking sprays and soaps, as well as handcrafted walking sticks and foraging bags. If you want to relax and catch a flick, Waynesboro is home to the 8-screen Zeus Digital Theaters, as well as the historic Wayne Theatre, which shows pay-what-you-will classic films on Mondays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Finally, if you’re in town on a Thursday night this summer, check out Groovin’ at the Greenway for a free, outdoor concert in Constitution Park.
Click here for access to Waynesboro’s A.T. Hiker’s Guide, which gives hikers a map and a handy roundup of information about the town. This includes where to do your laundry, the locations of ATMs, and places where hikers can score showers, free internet access, library books, and pick up bounce boxes and stamps. You can even sign on with Bradford Staffing for some temp work if you’re running short on funds!
Before Getting Back on the Trail
Fuel your trail legs with some fresh-brewed coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Farmhaus Coffee Co. or The French Press or sit down for a hearty “hungry boy” breakfast at Weasie’s Kitchen. You’ll need it as you complete the last 1,300+ miles of the journey. Happy hiking!