POTOMAC APPALACHIAN TRAIL CLUB PATC Headquarters: Vienna, VA (703) 242-0315

Have you been wishing for that peaceful, back to nature get-away? Maybe one that is even affordable? Are you reading the Little House on The Prairie series and wishing your kids could experience living in a log cabin? Wouldn’t it be nice to backpack in with your food and sleeping gear and find a solid, primitive, well supplied 60 year old cabin where the daily chores are hauling water from a nearby spring, chopping the firewood, and maybe taking that hike down to the waterfall? It exists!!!

There are several cabins along the Appalachian Trail that meet this description, maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). Our favorite is the Doyles River Cabin at milepost 81 on the Skyline Drive. We like it because the hike in is downhill and less than a mile. That matters when you are carrying in food - hiking out, there is less to carry! On top of that, it is nearby and we know how well stocked the cabin is - in terms of saws, axes, dishes, pots and pans, blankets, pillows, etc. You really just need your food, light source, dishwashing supplies, harmonica, and personal gear.

There are beautiful waterfalls about another mile down the trail from the cabin. We have seen lots of wildlife...a 12 point buck and black bear were the most remarkable. Controlled dogs are very welcome, although we did learn to put ours in the cabin at dusk if we wanted to watch the deer. The deer come right up to the cabin at the end of the day. The cabin is off of the main trail so you don’t have much people traffic.

With your first reservation you receive complete information about the cabin, what you’ll need, etc. The PATC is run by volunteers working limited hours, and so it can be hard to get through to the reservation phone lines. The process takes a while, because before reservations can be made you have to file a "Responsibility Statement". Plan ahead because specific dates are hard to reserve and reservations are accepted no earlier than four weeks in advance. Weekdays are cheaper and easier to get.

So, spend $20.00 for the pass that will get you on the Skyline Drive for a year, take lots of hikes including the one in to check out the cabin. If people are there, ask to see the inside to see the supplies! Remember to expect it to be primitive and have a plan for water purification (pills, boiling, or pump). Then reserve it and have fun! We did.

The weekday fee for the cabin is just $15.00.
Weekends are $25.00 per night.
The phone number to reserve the cabin is (703) 242-0315.
Hours to call are:
Monday through Thursday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Visit their web site for full details on cabins and rental procedures.
Click here to order the cabins booklet.

I suggest you order the Cabins booklet ($4.00) that lists all of the cabins available through the PATC. It is well written and shows you photographs of the 26 cabins available along the Appalachian Trail from Waynesboro, VA to near Gettysburg, PA. Some are "members only" which means an additional $35.00 annually. Not all cabins require a hike in (you can actually drive right up) and some compel you to hike in up to five miles. A few offer electricity and running water. Each offers its own special charm. They are all very inexpensive during the week and make an excellent low-budget family vacation. Although we have tried others, the Doyle River Cabin remains our favorite - and it is available to "non-members".

Mary Wilson...
Email: mary@trailz.org

Click here for PATC Homepage

Go back to Happy Trails Home Page.