Appalachian Trail Histories


A personal experience on the Trail

Olivia: (Trail Name-Blueberry) 

Olivia was a successful thru-hiker in the 2016 season who became disparaged at the "party culture" she experienced while hiking in Dragon's Tooth, Virginia. She writes of her shock at having been hiking mostly alone before descending upon mile 700 to find drunken madness as fellow hikers celebrated with cases of beer. She later left and took shelter at the Four Pines Hostel and again found herself in the "party bubble" with drug deals going on around her constantly during her stay. She even discovered insulin needles protruding from the toilet an obvious indicator of drug use. Olivia stated that she never thought she  "would be so boldly exposed to drugs and partying and I felt extremely uncomfortable". She almost quit her solo hike in favor but, later changed her mind and left the hostel as soon as possible to get away from the party bubble and remain safe. 

I created a post on Reddit, a website that has a channel dedicated to the Appalachian Trail "R/AppalachianTrail". I was looking for first-hand accounts of drug and alcohol use on the trail. Below are some of the accounts by hikers. As this was conducted on the internet with no way to verify their personal experiences, we must take their accounts with a grain of salt. Surprisingly, there is even a youtube channel dedicated to such activities "Hiker Trash". However numerous post seems to indicate the same attitude that drug use was present on the Trail but, there was no pressure to partake or overwhelmingly disturbing another person's hiking experience as seen from Olivia's experience. 


"Look no further than attending Trail Days, plenty of drug use there. I was there in years past when the police raided the "pirate" camp (what is "that" group's name? I forget) and we all sang "fuck the police" as they searched people for drugs and arrested a few. Personally, I think a certain infamous trail personality missed the attention at her crowning ceremony at the big fire and sent them over. I knew of people dropping acid and taking other drugs while thru-hiking."


"The drug use on the trail that I’ve experienced is mostly brown liquor like whiskey or bourbon being sipped at the fire or a little weed being smoked in the morning with coffee and definitely at night before bed. Dropped a tab on a 3 nighter through the Roan Highlands in early fall and that was a hell of an experience."


"Quite a bit in the south. It’s nothing crazy and it certainly isn’t anything to get worked up about. It’s mostly just pot, I was offered quite a bit but usually politely declined and that was that. It’s not like you’ll be surrounded by ppl pressuring you to try anything. in towns; Certain hostels are known for being party centers. There will be people that are super about the trail yet you’ll notice you only ever see them in town. Lots of burnouts and drug guys following the bubble and selling lot to hikers in town. Harmless, in my experience. By the time you’re in Virginia and beyond a lot of that fades because a lot of people have quit. The honeymoon is over, it’s not a party, it’s actually pretty fucking hard. So there’s a lot less of the party/escapism scene."