How to best experience the great outdoors without a driver's license?
January 16, 2016 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I live and work in Blacksburg, Virginia, a good place to live without a car, which I don't own due to primarily budget, but also health/anxiety issues. And that's perfectly fine for city living, but there ain't no bus routes to the Appalachian Trail or to the Cascades waterfall or the dozens of other outdoor places I'd like to visit and hike and explore. What would y'all suggest I do?

As far as alternatives to driving I've considered, a taxi/Uber would cost me $70+ one way, and since I don't have a license and barely know how to drive, I'm not comfortable renting a car. I'll gladly shell out money to cover gas and other expenses for a rideshare, but have no clue where to start looking for people to go with, or what services/apps/websites would help me out there (most sites I've visited seem geared towards long-term carpooling to work and such, not one-time events).
posted by smooshie to Travel & Transportation around Blacksburg, VA (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe put an ad on Craigslist? "Hey looking to get out to the trail this month, but no car-- will chip in for gas if you give me a lift!" You might find a hiking buddy this way too? Maybe visit the local REI or other outdoorsy shop, see if they have a bulletin board?
posted by The otter lady at 5:27 PM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Does Virginia Tech have an outdoor club? Many student organizations at public universities allow members from the surrounding community
posted by Maxwell's demon at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe there's a local hiking meetup group that you could carpools to hiking locations.
posted by ilovewinter at 5:29 PM on January 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Is there a local hiking club? Up here in the New England area there are ski clubs that run bus trips to the mountains to ski, maybe there is something like that for hiking or whatnot where you are?
posted by vrakatar at 5:29 PM on January 16, 2016

Just in case you're interested, here's a link for The Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech. It says it's open to members of the Blacksburg community, too!
posted by smorgasbord at 5:57 PM on January 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'd look at or local hiking clubs so you can get a ride through a larger group. FWIW, in my experience Lyft is cheaper than Uber, but only slightly, so at $70 to get to your destination, it's going to help you.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:28 PM on January 16, 2016

Sometimes outdoor stores (like REI, etc) organize trips and hikes. The one I used to live near in Maryland would have the trips leave from their parking lot, which was accessible by public transport. Also, you can take Amtrak to Staunton, which is not far from Shenandoah - certainly the cab ride would be cheaper from there.

You could also organize a MeFi hiking meetup!
posted by bluefly at 6:39 PM on January 16, 2016

I have a friend who has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and he has found shuttle services from lists maintained by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He's also found AT trail companions through their magazine, A.T. Journeys. Another place to find people to shuttle/hike with on the A.T. are the forums.
posted by apartment dweller at 8:45 PM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you have a couchsurfing profile, or are willing to make one, you could post in the nearest community group or create an event and perhaps draw a hiking companion with a car together that way. Travelers passing through Virginia might also notice your post and join you. The reference system on couchsurfing helps to at least reduce the level of worry involved in meeting a stranger - you can look at the number and content of references a member has before deciding to hike with them.

Otherwise, seconding outings put together by REI,, and university outdoor clubs.
posted by scrambles at 7:25 AM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Please be careful relying on Uber or Lyft to outdoor adventures. They'll get you there no problem but there's a good chance there's no or insufficient wireless data service to summon a return ride.
posted by MattD at 9:03 AM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

How about bicycling? For example, it looks like a 3-hour ride to Cascade Falls from downtown Blacksburg, at a leisurely speed. Depending on your interest in cycling and your stamina, it could be a day trip, or part of a short tour involving a couple of destinations. If there are inns or campgrounds, you could stay there, or you could look for hosts on
posted by brianogilvie at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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