Heaven Hill helps hikers

Vernon. Hikers, as it turns out, have many needs, as they strike out on the unprecedently busy Appalachian Trail.

Vernon /
| 30 Nov 2020 | 05:17

Throughout the pandemic, the Appalachian Trail saw an unprecedented number of hikers — and they needed a lot of help: directions, access to bathrooms, parking. Heaven Hill Farm and Garden Center stepped up to the plate, installing Porta Potties exclusively for hiker use, creating additional parking for them — and regularly cleaning up the garbage they leave behind.

“If they don’t have a place to park, they’ll just park on the street,” said Heaven Hill owner Martin Theobald. “They’ll pull over on the shoulder but be half out on 94, which is a 50-mile-an-hour highway. So it gets really dangerous.”

The trail’s official lot across 94 can only hold about 10 cars -- but hundreds a day were showing up this year. Theobald has always offered up his lot to hikers, but he expanded it in the spring, putting in rows, flags and signs for additional trail parking in response to increased demand — and to keep people safe.