Sunday, January 2, 2011

Transportation to the Trail

When you're planning a backpacking trip, transportation is a key issue

If you're driving, you can park at a trail head, a long term parking garage or self storage unit, or inquire via e-mail if there are any members of a local hiking club which would let you park at their home for a fee

With the economy so poor, more vandalism is being reported. Check with the local police departments for information on specific parking issues

When we hiked the Colorado Trail, we drove to Denver, rented a fully staffed, heated garage, and parked for 40 days. The rent was cheap and we didn't have to worry about the car. We took the local bus to the trail head, and after finishing the trail and walking into nearby Durango, we rented a car, drove to the parking garage and picked up our car. The rental car was then returned to the airport.
When there's more than one hiker, renting a car can be cheaper than each one buying a greyhound ticket, and much more comfortable.
Be sure to have a credit card for this. A debit card doesn't work.
Some areas do not offer bus service any longer. The east coast has decent service all the way up the Appalachian Trail. Call or check online at Greyhound for latest rates and service.
When I took the greyhound up to Vermont to hike, the buses were overbooked, and the stops were not so pleasant. Bring snacks and travel light if you decide that's
the way to go. Once reaching your stop, arrange for a taxi, trail angel, or friend to take you to the trail head.

Many times you can contact the members of the trail club which works on your chosen trail. For instance, if you're hiking north on the AT, starting in Springer, check out
the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. They can probably direct you to someone willing to shuttle you to the AT. Things change every year, so up to date information is essential.
The , for the Superior Hiking Trail, has peaked my interest. By looking at the online map, I see that I would plan either an out and back trip, or get the shuttle to my car.
The in southern Illinois has many small towns and post offices along the way.
has a hiker review of the trail. Other trail reviews can be found at The club also has members which can be contacted to aid in transportation questions.
Many Pacific Crest Trail hikers fly into San Diego, then catch a bus to the small town of Camp, 2 miles from the Mexican border. They then hike or get a ride from locals to the border, where the monument is tagged. Check the PCTA website for updates on transportation available.
Hitchhiking is dangerous. Its an issue everyone must decide for themselves. If you chose to do it, or must do it, promise yourself you will turn down rides from people who make you uncomfortable.
Resupplying in town almost always means hitchhiking. If you are unwilling to do this, chose a trail which goes through towns or is short enough to not require a resupply.
The John Muir trail can be accomplished without hitchhiking.
You can also arrange a self shuttle by taking two cars, parking one up the trail at a safe place. Hiking car to car makes resupplying easier, too. Stash non perishable food and water in the trunk. is the link for trains.
When you have chosen a trail, ask questions on a backpacking website forum. Many times you 'll meet people who know the answers to your transportation questions.


  1. Brawny, the shuttle service on the Superior Hiking Trail is a superb choice. There is also a decent network of hikers in the area that are very helpful. Communicate with them via their email listserv at:

  2. Thanks for the information, Samh :D

  3. You're welcome. That's a great bunch of people on that listserv and you will have trouble asking them a question they can't answer.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to discuss about the shuttle service,would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.
    Best Regards
    London Shuttle Service

  5. Hi Brawny! Thank you for bringing more information to this topic for me. I'm truly grateful and really impressed. I love this blog. It is so informative. We are just starting out, and I read this blog every day! would you mind updating your blog with more information, I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.
    Best Regards
    London Airport Pick & Drop

  6. Thanks London, your possitive feedback encourages me to keep going! Happy Trails!