Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Appalachian Trail Hostels: Delaware Water Gap PA

The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain in Delaware Water Gap, PA provides a hostel for thru-hikers and long distance section hikers of the Appalachian Trail. We spent the night at their hostel during our recent section hike of the New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Hours and Cost

The normal season for the hostel is May 15 to June 30, but the hostel is available to bona-fide long distance hikers before and after those dates. Instructions for entrance are on the hostel door. If arriving before 5 p.m., then continue up the driveway to the church office and chat with the secretary who can unlock the hostel. After 5 and before 8:30 p.m., then you need to call one of the church members listed in the instructions. After 8:30, well you're out of luck unless someone else is already staying there, as the instructions say to head to the motel and get a room. We arrived about 6 p.m. on a Sunday on the 1st of May and found thru-hiker already staying there.

The recommended donation for staying the night is just $3. Donations are placed thru a slot in the wall in the living room just to the left of the clock. Find the pink Post-It in the second photo below and you'll see the slot just above. To tell the truth there's so much stuff on walls and surfaces we had to ask another hiker where the donations box was ourselves.

Getting there

Finding the hostel is actually easy if arriving by bus and even easier if arriving on foot from the trail. The Apalachian Trail passes just one building away from the hostel.

Northbounders (NOBOs) will be coming downhill from Mount Minsi on Mountain Road. As you arrive at Main Street, the hostel is to your immediate left just on the other side of the Deer Head Inn. You likely saw the church through the trees as you were coming down Mountain Road.

Southbounders (SOBOs) will be coming uphill from the Delaware River bridge. As you arrive at the intersection marked with a large brown and white Appalachian Trail sign, you'll see the Deer Head Inn to your left and the Presbyterian Church of the Mountain just up the hill to the left.

Bus riders arriving at the Martz Trailways/Greyhound station should take a right leaving the bus station and then follow the first road on the right down into town, cross Cherry Creek, and then follow Main Street uphill. The church and hostel will be on your right.

In all cases, just follow the drive way and you'll find a picnic table and the hostel entrance on your immediate right, just after the steps to the front door.

About the Hostel

The hostel was recently renovated with fresh paint and new carpet. (Note the AT symbol cleverly set into a carpet square inside the door.) The hostel consists of a main living room, a bunk room and shower, a half bathroom with commode and sink, and the outside picnic table area.

The bunk room consists of eight wooden sleeping platforms covered with carpet. There is lots of space and post tops to hang or open backpacks. You'll need your pad and sleeping bag for the bunk room.

The shower entrance is located in the middle of the bunk room. The shower consists of a single stall with curtain. Church members have donated shampoo and soap which are in containers next to the stall. You'll find generous stacks of towels inside the two closets just outside the bunk room to the left.

All in all, we enjoyed our stay at the Church of the Mountain hostel and had a much nicer experience than our first hostel stay in London, England way back in 1979. A hot shower and a shave were much appreciated after a long 2-day bus ride and we were glad not to start our hike late in the day up one of the hills to a legal camping spot. Our sincere thanks to the hostel volunteers!

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