If you are traveling by bus, you’ll want to get off in Gainesville, GA. The Hostel is approximately 22 miles from the bus station. In order to keep costs down, we try to group hikers who come into the bus station if at all possible. The round-trip travel time from the bus station to the hostel is an hour and a half; therefore, if you are scheduled to arrive within 3 hours of another hiker, we may ask you to wait.
One note about Greyhound, they typically overbook buses, and even having a ticket in hand doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the bus. It is a first come, first served system, so don’t wait until the last minute to get in line to get on the bus, especially when connecting at a large station. If your bus is overbooked, there is typically a second bus that will pick up the remaining passengers, but it is usually at least one hour behind the original schedule. If you miss your scheduled bus, please call us to let us know you are running late so that we don’t sit at the station waiting and wondering if you are on the next bus or if you changed your mind and aren’t coming at all.
The nearest Amtrak station is also in Gainesville, GA, 22 miles from the hostel.
We’ve been very fortunate to host hikers from all over the US and world, including Canada, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Japan, China, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand. If you are traveling from overseas, we highly recommend staying an extra day to get organized and, if time, relax a bit to ease some of that jet-lag. Most of our international guests require an outfitter stop to pick up a few extra pieces of gear (often much cheaper in the States) as well as a visit to the grocery store to stock up for the first few days on the trail. If you’ve never been to the States before, the grocery store may seem overwhelming with regard to size and selection and may take longer than you think!
There is a new International Terminal in Atlanta. Once you’ve cleared Immigration and Customs and claimed your baggage, you’ll need to take the free shuttle bus to the main terminal. MARTA is located just inside the doors where you will be dropped off. Please read the information about traveling to the Atlanta airport (above) for more information. Finally, international travelers must provide an address within the United States for immigration. Guests are welcome to use the hostel address.
Regardless of how you are traveling, we need your travel details (flight/bus/train number, departure city, arrival time, airline, etc.) so that we can check the status of your flight/bus/train. If you plan to carry a cell phone, that information would be appreciated, too. If there are significant delays during your travel (canceled flight, missed connection), please call us as soon as possible to let us know so that we can adjust our schedule.
We always call one or two days before your scheduled arrival to confirm your reservation and pick-up time and location. If you do not confirm your reservation, we may cancel it. If your contact information changes, it is your responsibility to let us know those changes.
If you prefer to drive to the Hiker Hostel, that’s fine, too. We allow guests to park their vehicles (for a limited time) on our property at no charge. The hostel is located at 7693 Hwy 19N, approximately 6 miles north of Dahlonega. We are the first paved driveway on the left past Mile Marker 18. Guests should plan to arrive and check-in no later than 10pm EST. You may, of course, stay out later than that after you have checked in.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The majority of hikers fly into Atlanta. If you’re flying, we recommend arriving in the early afternoon. If you want to be picked up on the same day you fly into Atlanta, your flight MUST arrive by 4pm if you’re traveling on an international flight or 5pm if on a domestic flight. It will take approximately 3 hours from the time your flight lands until you arrive at the hostel. Arriving early gives you plenty of time to sort through your pack one more time, pick up any items you’ve mistakenly left at home, have a nice meal, and relax and visit with other hikers preparing to head out on the trail.
When you arrive at the Atlanta airport, make sure to take the airport “plane train” to baggage claim. The airport is HUGE and there is a subway inside for a reason (it’s 1 mile from the farthest concourse to baggage claim!). Yeah, I know you’re planning to walk from Georgia to Maine, but for now, take the train!
Now, we don’t pick up AT the airport, but at the North Springs MARTA station. MARTA is Atlanta’s rapid transit system and there is a station inside the main airport terminal near the main baggage claim (not American Airline’s smaller baggage claim area), so it’s very convenient for you to hop on. Trains leave every 10-20 minutes depending on the day of week. Specific instructions on how to ride MARTA and where to wait once you arrive at North Springs will be forwarded to you after we receive your travel details. Please READ the instructions we send…better yet, bring them with you!
In order to keep costs down, we try to group hikers who come into the airport if at all possible. If you are scheduled to arrive within 3 hours of another hiker, we will probably ask you to wait. A round-trip shuttle from the hostel to the MARTA station is 2 hours, assuming there is no traffic (which there always seems to be!).
This is a hiker’s worst nightmare. Each year at least one person’s pack is “temporarily” lost, but the airlines always seem to get them here…usually within a day. Follow these instructions to make sure your pack gets to the hostel as quickly as possible.
First, if your baggage doesn’t show up at the designated carousel, ask a skycap where the oversized items are. Sometimes packs get sent to the area with golf clubs and other large/bulky items.
If your pack is nowhere to be found, follow these steps:
1) Do not panic!
2) Go to lost baggage for your airline and give them our address and phone number:
7693 Hwy 19N
Dahlonega, GA 30533
They should give you a claim ticket or claim number. Be sure to keep it.
Also, request the phone number for the people who will deliver the pack.
Inform them that we are a business, not a residence, and we accept packages 24hrs/day. Failure to do this may result in your pack being shipped by FedEx or UPS (which will take MUCH longer) instead of being delivered by the airline.
3) Get on MARTA for the pick up.
4) 90% of the time it pack is at the Hostel by morning.
If you want to avoid any possibility of the airline losing your luggage, consider shipping part or all of your gear ahead to the hostel.
Shipping Gear to the Hiker Hostel
Planning to fly into Atlanta? Make your life a little easier and ship your gear to us ahead of time. With upgraded security and tighter restrictions at airports – not to mention different policies for each airline – flying with all of your necessary hiking gear is becoming quite difficult. We’ll be glad to hold your package(s) until you arrive. Send your whole pack or just those items you’re concerned could be confiscated at the airport. Some items to consider are knife/multi-tool, stove, empty fuel bottle, hiking poles (with sharp or carbide tips) and tent stakes. If you’re taking Greyhound or Amtrak, you can ship packages ahead as well.
Check with your local post office before shipping to ensure no special circumstances apply, especially if you’re sending canister fuel. It’s likely that your package will require ground delivery, so plan ahead and allow plenty of time for shipping. International travelers should also check with local postal providers for any overseas shipping restrictions.
UPS, FedEx or DHL deliver to our address listed below:
c/o Hiker Hostel
7693 Hwy 19N
Dahlonega, GA 30533
You MUST use the correct address for your method of shipment. If you use the wrong address, the items WILL be returned to you. Also, write your date of arrival and last name in large print on the side of your package so it will be easy to locate. Because our storage space is limited, we prefer to not hold packages longer than one week.
Shipping Gear Home
Many hikers find, after arriving at the hostel, that they have over-packed and need to send some items home or to a trail town further north. We’ll be happy to do that for you. We generally have miscellaneous boxes floating around that you may use to send unwanted items or even travel clothes home. We’ll weigh the packages and determine the cost of postage using the online calculator at usps.com.
We keep white gas (Coleman Fuel) and denatured alcohol at the hostel. Hikers taking advantage of our “Thru-Hiker Special” are allowed 8 oz of free fuel (white gas or denatured alcohol only) and may purchase more if needed. All other guests may purchase fuel by the ounce.
Hikers who require canister fuel can also purchase fuel at the hostel. We carry JetBoil, MSR, Optimus or SnoPeak canisters in the 4 and 8 oz. sizes. We charge $4.99 and $5.99, respectively (+ tax).
Come Back from Woody Gap
Woody Gap is approximately 20 trail miles from Springer Mountain, but it’s only 6 road miles from the hostel. During the Northbound “Thru-Hiker Season” we make a daily pick-up at Woody Gap at 5pm. For 2016 we will pick up from 01-March thru 24-April. The 5pm shuttle is free if staying at the hostel. The first morning shuttle back to Woody Gap is also free between 01-March and 24-April. If you choose to go back at a later time during the day, there will be a fee. The fee for an overnight stay for a bunk is $19/person/night, $45 for a private room inside the hostel for up to two people, $55 for a Container Cabin for up to two people and $65-$85 for a small private log cabin for up to 4 people. All rates include breakfast. We provide bed linens, towels, washcloths, soap and shampoo