Paul Bunyan feasting on the special hiker lunch at Mountain Meadows Lodge, Vermont
Bennington - we did not stay here but Paul Bunyan was able to hitch into Bennington for supplies. Many hikers do use this town.
Manchester Center - a tourist town with lots of tourist type shops, outlets, etc. We stayed at Suttons Place which worked out fine (no Internet or laundry). But there is no AC in Vermont and it was hot on the top floor. Town has everything you need - good size grocery, laundromat, PO, eateries, two outfitters. Hitching in and out is a must - look for rides at the parking lot coming in.
US 4 - Many hikers go into Rutland where there is a hostel and everything else you need (but the town is spread out). We stayed at the Mendon Mountain Lodge - about a half mile left down Rt 4. Great place, friendly to hikers, does your laundry for you for a good price, has Internet access and rooms for hikers and cheap buffet breakfast. A bus runs up and down Rt 4 to take you back to the trail.
Near Kent Pond, on the trail - Mountain Meadows Lodge has a super hiker lunch - a bit pricey at $8.95 but it was great. Might be good to stay at also.
Hanover - college town on the trail, has everything you need. Internet access and backpacking room at the Dartmouth College Outing Club. We stayed at Tiggers Treehouse in their motorhome and it was great. They will pick you up at Dartmouth and shuttle you back and forth.
Glencliff - nothing here at all except for the PO to get your cold weather gear for the Whites (which you MUST have!) and a hiker hostel that is unique to say the least (they have outdoor showers, laundry, Internet access, and some food for purchase). They make a run to "town" (you pay for the shuttle) which has a very slow restaurant and a convenience store for supplies (enough to get you to Lincoln), but you barely have enough time to eat and get supplies before the shuttle guy arrives.
Rt 3, Franconia Notch - we called for a shuttle at the Flume visitor center to take us to Lincoln and Chet's place - a great guy that opened up his home to hikers. From there you can walk to major services in Lincoln like groceries, food, and an outfitter.
White Mountains - The Hut system- if you can get there by 3 PM, you can get in on the hiker work-for-stay option which means you work for a place to sleep on the dining room floor and eat whatever leftovers are available (usually little). Some huts are better than others - but it really depends on the croo in residence at that given time. Some required one job to fulfill your quota, others work you to the bone. Some will make food if there isn't a lot left, some you are scraping food off the floor practically. The hut we like best for work for stay was Galehead. The worst was Carter Notch. But it all depends on the croo and the croo hutmaster (some seem to really dislike thru hikers and work-for stay). All huts have soup, leftovers (pancakes were free, cake, bread, etc) for sale at lunchtime.
US 302, Crawford Notch - we got a ride with a day hiker at the parking lot to the Crawford Notch campground. Had a hiker bunkhouse all to ourselves. Laundry and showers. Store to get some supplies. Shuttle back to the trail. Owners a bit standoffish, they insist hikers stay in their bunkhouse and not in their cabins which kind of irked me.
Mt Washington - friendly staff here for breakfast when we arrived. Don't leave your gear unattended in the backpack room. Don't use the PO for drops.
Pinkham Notch - AMC center here accepts mail drops. Outfitter area a bit lacking. Food and lodging expensive. We actually hitched to Gorham from here so I could recover from a stomach flu.
Wildcat Mtn Chair Lift - one of these nice surprises. The guy there let hikers go down the lift for free, get food from the concession stand, and ride back up.
US 2, Gorham - this is my favorite town. I like Gorham very much. It has everything, though spread out. We stayed at the Northern Peaks motel managed by these two ladies that like hikers (or at least us!). Very helpful. Gorham has a PO, laundry, library for Internet, a small outfitter, a free shuttle that goes to the Wal Mart supercenter. And plenty of places to eat. Friendly townsfolk. A must for a zero day.
(NOTE Recommend any maildrops go priority with delivery comfirmation. We got two boxes lost in Maine)
Andover - we stayed at The Cabin- but sadly Honey and Bear are closing in 2008 to hit the roads and trails themselves. This was a great hostel. We have heard good things though about Pine Ellis hostel.
Stratton - we stayed at the Stratton Motel. We got a room but hikers can stay at the hiker hostel area. Sue is great and very helpful. She will pick you up and take you back to the trail. Laundry and Internet available. Good diner across the way, along with a grocery store and PO.
Caratunk - We stayed at Northern Outdoors resort since Steve the Ferryman is closing up shop. Not sure where you can get supplies with his store closed. Check with the NO staff. Laundry, Internet.
Monson - we stayed at Shaws in the main house and it was great. Small grocery store with owner anxious to have supplies for hikers. PO.
White House Landing - we did not stay here but many do. Pricey.
Abol Bride - boy does Katahdin look great! So load up at the store here with goodies to celebrate the last few days as there is no food available in Baxter State Park. Pay phone is a pain to use but it works so you can secure your ride. No cell phone coverage.