FAQs
Stuff you might want to know...
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HOW CAN I HELP?

Two big areas of help is needed... bodies to come join us to give out the stuff, and cash donations, so we can buy the stuff. The DONATIONS page shows you how to do that. As for the time commitment - I gotta tell ya - this is FUN! You'll never forget the many dozens of people each day who are extremely grateful for your help on the trail.

CAN I JUST COME UP SOLO WITHOUT A COMMITMENT?

Yup - just coordinate with me so everyone knows what is to be expected.

WHERE IS ALL THIS TAKING PLACE?

The Highway 603 Trailhead is located 4 miles west of Troutdale, VA on Hwy - you guessed it - 603. It is easy to pass by, as it is a small access drive on the south side of the road near the Horse Camp Rest Area on the North Side. It is 1.7 miles east of Grindstone Campground, also on Hwy 603

IS THIS LEGAL?

Trail Magic is a long standing tradition on the AT, and local law enforcement is well aware of the many people who perform it. The Trailhead Parking Lot is County Jurisdiction, but 20 feet inside the woods starts National Forest Land - pretty much everything goes in there, including free camping - so as long as we do not stay longer than 14 days, we're cool.

TELL ME ABOUT CAMPING NEARBY?

Grindstone Campground is 1.5 miles to the west of the trailhead. We try to get spots reserved in advance in "Cottontail" loop, around the wash house between site 045 and 058. They have showers, electric sites, water, ice and a phone you can use briefly - there is zero cell reception at camp or at the Trailhead. It is a fully wooded campground with lots of trees for hammocks, and offer firewood for a fee. You won't find much down/dead wood in camp. The Campground closes their gates at 10pm and reopens at 7am. I'd recommend reserving your site, but they do hit your credit card on reservation, with a short cancellation period. You are permitted two tents per space (a 14' x 14' pad) and two vehicles, with 6 persons maximum per site. They do not seem to consider Hammock Tents in this limit. The roads are paved and the individual sites are graveled and relatively leveled. RESERVE HERE.

WHAT SUPPLIES SHOULD WE BRING?

As thru-hikers come and go at a regular pace and do not come back, we do not need a standard set of goodies to hand out. At a minimum, we need to have available, canned sodas, (not diet), bottled water, energy drinks, and non-perishable snacks, some of which they are welcome to consume on site, some can be taken with, so consider what a hiker may want - Pop Tarts, Clif Bars, Protein bars, and by all means have lots of Fresh Fruit! In addition, bring up firewood, your own camping gear and several camping chairs - some for you some for them. I will have a large Tarp set up, my own tent and several tables. I will be asking each group to help me refill the 5gal water jugs using their car (my truck will be stuck at the trailhead), take full trash to the campground, and replenish ice. Don't forget to bring your OWN chairs as well as perhaps a few more for the hikers.

WHAT ARE THE RESTROOM FACILITIES LIKE?

Huh? This is an AT trailhead - there are acres of men's room available and whereever you ladies can find a hidey hole to squat in. Actually, there are lots of those as the place is surrounded by Rhododendron Thickets, but there is often (not guaranteed) a very clean portapottie aboout 150 yards away at a public horse camp. The campground will offer $5 bathroom/showers to non-campers if you prefer.

WHERE IS THE CLOSEST TOWN?

Troutdale, VA is a little nothing-in-it town except for a hiker's Hostel, a post office and some goats. 8 miles south is a General Store with limited supplies, and the bigger towns are both 20 miles away, Damascus to the west and Marion to the north on I-81. The nearest Wal-Mart is on Marion, as well as the Hospital and other big-city services. Damascus is much smaller, but the AT runs through Main Street, so camping/hiking supplies can be gotten there. If you prefer to stay at a Bed and Breakfast instead of Camping, Damascus has several (Lazy Fox Inn is my favorite!) but during hiking season, I often recommend leaving those beds open to hikers. Motels up in Marion might be best, but they, too, are near the AT....awww, come on - go camping with us!

WHAT ABOUT FOOD?

I assume you mean (yeah, I know - it sounds like these are real questions - I'm making them up as I go!) your own food. Well, everyone is on their own - work it out with yourself. If you're not a camper, you might want to look at Motel stays and eat at restaurants. However, part of Magic may be our cooking up stuff for the hikers, and of course, you can eat that, too. What worked well last year was Brunswick Stew, Asparagus Soup, Brats and Hot Dogs - pretty much anything is appreciated. And if you want to cook your own stuff for the hikers - go for it... I suggest simple.

HOW DO WE COOK AT THE TRAILHEAD?

I am hoping to provide to all the helpers, one or more Propane 1-burner stoves for everyone's use - but you can bring your own. There is not any electricity here. I'll bring a large fry pan, extra propane, and some basic kitchenware... but if your team wants to cook something - try to bring it all with you. Remember a cooler - ice can be purchased at the campground. There is no Trash Receptacle, so I will have one and trash bags - but someone should bring all trash back to camp each day for disposal. I've never seen bears here, but I expect they're around, so we do not leave trash overnight.

HOW DO WE COOK AT CAMP?

If you're really thinking of this, you really should stay home! Though, each campsite at Grindstone has a firering and grate for cooking as well as electricity.

WHAT IS THE TRAILHEAD LOCATION LIKE?

Heavily wooded, but not in a dense forest. GOOGLE MAP It is about 50 feet from the parking area off the road, and not visible to the road, but close. There are two established firepits, and we will take over one of them... hikers generally do not start fires in them as they have no firewood - but we will. There are lots of trees to hang tarps, and while the ground is slightly rocky, there are lots of level tent sites. There are a few creeks and some swampy areas nearby, so bug spray is recommended, although not a problem last year. There is one beautiful 12x12 level spot carved into the trees that I am laying claim to for my base tent to be used as our storage shelter, and for me (or anyone else) to sleep in if we stay at the trailhead overnight - this is likely if we have hikers crashing at the trailhead wanting to party at the campfire. I will either set up the toilet and shower inside or directly on the backside of this canopy, with a separate privacy curtain.

WHAT ABOUT THE HIKING NEARBY?

I suggest planning an extra day just to go on a long day hike into Grayson Highlands. It is a 6 mile round trip to the vista, and a little over 8 miles round trip to Mt. Rogers - the highest point in VA. There is NO view up there as it is all inside a forested hilltop, but it is a pretty hike all the way. Parts of the Appalachian Trail go through there, the Pine Mountain Trail, and a half dozen others... there is NO shortage of routes to take. Most go through the Grayson Highlands where the wild ponies are, and continues into the Mt. Rogers Recreational area and Jefferson National Forest.





ver. 7.2 ~ 2012-