Appalachian Trail trolley stop passes test

The trolley stop at the Remount Road Appalachian Trail trailhead in Front Royal was a success, said Tim Smith, coordinator for Front Royal’s Visitor Center. The stop was incorporated into existing trolley routes on a trial basis from May to July.

“There were 48 hikers for July, and the total from May to July (was) 259 hiker riders for the trolley, which is actually pretty good for just two months,” Smith said. “The driver keeps track of it (hiker usage of the trolley). They have a tally they (use to) keep track of riders anyway and they just added another column. … We didn’t know what to expect. We’d never done this before but were very pleased with it. It’s a good cause. We’ll do it again next year.”

Smith said the trolley stop’s two-month sample indicated the viability of an Appalachian Trail stop and, depending on some governmental processes, will go into permanent effect.

“That will be up to whoever is negotiating with the Virginia Transit Authority,” Smith said. “In order to go up there they go into the county, so the county will get involved. We haven’t really discussed it much but we were pretty pleased with the turnout and it seems like a legitimate service that we can provide and I hope they do keep providing it.”

Smith said that the stop’s establishment fit well into the trolley’s routes.

“They did it twice a day – a run in the morning and one in the afternoon,” he said. “It didn’t affect the schedule much at all. It was flowing well and it was greatly appreciated by the hikers and it seemed like something the hikers really enjoyed. … They incorporated into the south route and it took that off course 15 minutes at the most. I think it was the last run before he (the driver) got to the visitor center. It didn’t really affect the timing at all so it worked out well.”

Before the stop’s installation and now that it’s been discontinued for the time being, hikers would have to walk about four miles from the trailhead into town.

The Front Royal Visitor Center’s visitation numbers are up as well, said Smith. The visitor’s center allows Appalachian Trail hikers to leave their packs inside and explore the town less encumbered.

“We’re running about 1,000 visitors over last year’s numbers,” Smith said. “Things will probably quiet down a little bit the next couple weeks but the fall travel will start back up in September and we’re looking forward to big numbers there as well.”

The service cost 50 cents to be ferried into town and Smith said that, since its recent discontinuation, hikers have inquired as to the service’s availability.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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