Hiking Hostels: What you should know

a hiking hostel in New Hampshire

A hiking hostel in New Hampshire

I prefer a motel room in town when I resupply on a hike. For one big reason—I sleep better. There are smaller reasons. Privacy and the freedom to do my own thing, when and how I want to.

Many hikers, especially younger ones, flock to hostels. I understand why: They are inexpensive and offer camaraderie. So, for economic reasons and to stick with a hiking group, I sometimes stay at hostels. I have noticed a difference in east coast hostels on the A.T, versus west coast hostels on the PCT, especially in California. Maybe it’s a California thing, but anything goes in California hiking hostels. At least the ones I stayed at. I can remember two hiking hostels in California where the smell of pot was so rampant, I tented outside at the boundary of the property.

The hosts of those above mentioned hostels were gracious and generous and didn’t interfere. They accepted a monetary donation from any and all hikers, but only if the hiker could afford it. I didn’t have a problem with the pot smokers (or whatever else they passed around) but, frankly, both places were filthy. I’m sure a board of health would have closed them down. I’d hitched in and was too beat to try to make other arrangements, so I stayed.

The New Hampshire hostel, pictured above, is one of the best I’ve stayed at. Each hiker was told the “rules” and these rules were posted. Efforts were made to keep the shower area clean, and a manager greeted all hikers and made periodic rounds. I recall paying a fixed fee and would stay there again.

I think you should ask questions of other hikers and do your best to learn about hostels beforehand. At any hostel, be alert, clean up after yourself, and be considerate of fellow hikers.

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