Every long-distance hike requires stopping for resupply. I thought it might be helpful for future hikers if I wrote-up the resupply logistics from my northbound Long Trail thru-hike earlier this year. I stopped five times for resupply. Read on for all the details.
On the trail, my food supplies consist of three major components: breakfast, hiking snacks, and dinner. When I resupply, taking into consideration the distance and time to my next resupply, I make sure to have an extra day’s worth of each of those components. This allows a slight delay without worrying about running out of supplies, and a significant delay is doable with some rationing.
I took advantage of this buffer once: my first section took a day longer due to an injury.
In practice, I often wind up with an additional day of breakfast, and several days worth of snacks, due to packages containing multiple days worth of food. Also, “snacks” are mileage-based, and I habitually overcount mileage to ensure an extra buffer (or an extra treat, on really hard days). Snacks also tend to be more likely to be skipped, as a result of trail magic or a place on or near the trail to buy lunch.
For more details on the contents of my resupplies, see my Meals on the Appalachian Trail post. On the Long Trail, my meals were largely the same as towards the end of my AT hike, with the addition of a tuna packet with each dinner.
My initial supply was from my local grocery store, with 5 days worth of supplies for a four day, 54.4 miles to VT 11/30, near Manchester Center. After a long bus trip that dropped me off in Williamstown, MA, I stayed at the Willows Motel. In the morning, I got breakfast next-door at the Moonlight Diner & Grille, before walking towards the Pine Cobble Trail, one of the approaches to the Long Trail.
However, doing an initial supply near the trailhead would also have been possible. The Appalachian Trail, as it approaches Vermont, runs between Williamstown and North Adams, MA. About half a mile west of the Appalachian Trail, along MA 2, is a Stop & Shop, a large grocery store. There is also a Papa John’s, which in 2016, was offering 50% off to hikers. From there, the AT is the most convenient approach trail to Vermont.
Resupply Stop 1: Manchester Center
My fifth day on the trail brought me to VT 11/30, about 5.5 miles east of Manchester Center. The trailhead is situated on a relatively busy road, so it took less than ten minutes to get a ride into town. In town, I obtained four days of supplies for the 49.1 mile hike to the trailhead at US 4, between Rutland and Killington.
Manchester Center has a full-service supermarket, Price Chopper, as well as a couple of outfitters, a Rite Aid, and several restaurants. I highly recommend Christos’s Pizza and Pasta; their pizza is among the best I’ve had anywhere.
I spent the night at the fantastic Green Mountain House hostel. Besides the (free) laundry and shower, the hostel’s owner will pick you up from town, and shuttle you back to the trailhead in the morning.
Resupply Stop 2: Rutland/Killington
My next stop brought me to the Inn at Long Trail, situated on US 4 between Rutland and Killington, VT. In Rutland, I resupplied for a five day, 59.4 mile hike to Waitsfield.
The Inn at Long Trail is situated directly across from the Sherburne Pass Trail (the old alignment of the Long Trail), and about eight tenths of a mile east of the Long Trail’s current trailhead on US 4. The Inn has an Irish pub, and guests receive a free breakfast. It also has a small coin-operated laundry room.
There is hourly bus service between the towns of Killington and Rutland, with a stop directly in front of Inn at Long Trail. Rutland contains a Wal-Mart, a Price Chopper, a movie theatre, several restaurants, and the infamous Yellow Deli (which also has a hiker hostel).
I took a zero at Inn at Long Trail since it let me rest my ankles and go about my resupply in a very relaxed manner, but if you reach the trailhead early enough in the day, it’s certainly possible to head in to Rutland for resupply and be back on the trail the same day.
Resupply Stop 3: Waitsfield
My third resupply stop was in Waitsfield, and marked the first deviation from my pre-hike plan. Originally, I intended for my Waitsfield resupply to carry through to Johnson (60.1 miles, five days). However, after reflecting on the more rugged than anticipated terrain, and the upcoming elevation profile for Camel’s Hump, I decided to insert a resupply stop at Waterbury (2 days, 21.9 miles), allowing me to carry noticeably less weight for that section.
Waitsfield, located about 7 miles east of the trailhead on VT 17 at Appalachian Gap, took longer to hitch to than I had hoped for. VT 17 wasn’t a terribly busy road, but after a couple of false starts, I managed to get a ride into town.
In town was a Shaw’s supermarket, with a good selection. Getting back to the trail was far easier than I expected; a local happened to see me as I was repacking my food bags, and offered a lift back to the trailhead.
Resupply Stop 4: Waterbury
Two days on the trail from Waitsfield brought me to the new trailhead at US 2. Waterbury, about seven miles east, was my fourth resupply stop. Here, I obtained provisions for an expected 4 day, 38.2 mile hike to Johnson.
Having made arrangements to stay at a B&B in town, the Old Stagecoach Inn, I was able to get picked up from the trailhead by their owner. Failing that, though, there was enough traffic going by that it probably would not have taken long to get a ride.
The town’s grocery store, the Village Market of Waterbury, was small, but it had most everything I needed, and was fairly close to the town’s laundromat. There were several restaurants and bars; I got dinner at The Reservoir, which had an absolutely incredible list of beer on tap, and pretty good burgers, as well.
The Old Stagecoach Inn provided a great all-you-can-eat breakfast, which I did not partake of nearly as much as I could have. And, they gave me a ride back to the trailhead.
Resupply Stop 5: Johnson
My final resupply was in Johnson, off of VT 15. From there, it would be four days and 49.7 miles to the northern terminus of the Long Trail, Line Post 592 at the Canadian border.
Not wanting to fuss around with hitching rides, I opted to stay at the very hiker friendly Nye’s Green Valley Farm B&B, in no small part due to their offer to pick up and return hikers to the trailhead, and shuttle them to and from Johnson proper for resupply and dinner. The free laundry was also appreciated.
In town, Johnson’s Sterling Market was a small grocery store, perhaps a little smaller than Waterbury’s, and while they didn’t have everything I wanted, it was close enough to what I needed to finish my hike. I grabbed dinner at the Downtown Pizzeria, which was okay.
Nye’s provided a fantastic breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage, featuring freshly-picked blueberries from their farm.
The Long Trail’s northern terminus connects with the Journey’s End Trail, which goes past Journey’s End Camp and ends at a parking lot on Journey’s End Road, near Jay, VT. From there, it’s a shuttle or trail magic back to a larger town for transportation home (in my case, Amtrak in Essex Junction).
If you’re planning a southbound Long Trail hike, you could probably do a successful hike by reversing this itinerary, though I would probably either take extra food at Johnson and skip the resupply at Waterbury, or resupply at Waterbury and skip the Waitsfield resupply.
Either way, resupply on the Long Trail is not especially difficult. Waitsfield was the only town that seemed hard to get to, and even then, it wasn’t that bad.