The Appalachian Trail (AT) runs 2,176 miles between Mount Katadin in central Maine and Springer Mountain, GA. In 2003, Dave Walker covered the trail in one season, an accomplishment realized by only one in five of the thousands who set out.
Walker braced himself for snakes, ticks, and angry bears, but his greatest fear was “taking roughly 5 million steps and not finding a good beer.” But between breweries, bars and the occasional “trail angel,” here’s where he slaked his thirst.
Mile 0—The Blue Ox Saloon, Millinocket, ME, 30 miles from the northern terminus of the AT, From the fine selection on tap, I choose what I imagine to be my last beer for a while.
Mile 117.8— Monson General and Hardware Store, Monson, ME. After the 100 Mile Wilderness and 10 days of mosquitoes, black flies and mountain trails without switchbacks—owners Tim and Julie Anderson provide this thirsty hiker a variety of foreign, domestic and local microbrews. Guinness at a hardware store is a great find.
Mile 151.2— Kennebec River Brewery, Caratunk, ME. In Caratunk, the Northern Outdoors offers white water rafting in the summer, snowmobiling in the winter and the biggest hot tub I’ve ever seen. At the brewery, try Magic Hole IPA, or Big Mama Blueberry Ale.
Mile 187.8—The White Wolf Inn, Stratton, ME, 10 miles from Sugarloaf Ski Resort, pours your standard selections, with one difference: they offer your choice of brew served in “the Horn,” a 10-ounce Black Powder horn.
Mile 372.7— Franconia Notch Brewery, Bethlehem, NH. In 2002, this was the beer of choice for a dedicated group of hikers and beer drinkers. Once a year, the “Croo” that maintains the hiking huts in the White Mountains holds a get together at the Madison Spring hut. That year, four kegs of Franconia’s best were packed 2.3 miles (almost straight up) to the hut. This is 170 pounds of beer we’re talking about.