Your Local Retail Shop: Mountain Hardware
Our Local Retail Shop Series highlights local gear shops and tells their stories. We chat with shop owners to find out what makes their shop unique and how they serve their local communities.
Shop Name: Mountain Hardware
Location: Wrightwood, CA
Co-owner: Mike Troeger
Next up on our PCT gear shop tour is Mountain Hardware. And no, we’re not talking about the brand! This hardware store has everything you’d expect, plus a multitude of products that PCT hikers might need on their journey. On top of carrying freeze dried meals and gear, this shop also goes above and beyond to provide additional services to support the thru hikers coming through this small town in Southern California. We had the opportunity to get the full scoop from one of the owners on what sets them apart and we’re here to give you the details.
What is the story behind Mountain Hardware?
Mountain Hardware opened in 1962 in Wrightwood, CA. This is our 60th year! We have always been a true hardware store with plumbing, paint, and tools. In the past we also have had a rural Pharmacy License so we could sell many items not available within 60 miles. We even sold wigs, makeup, perfume. Now we are still a hardware store, outdoor outfitter supply, and garden center mainly. Being a hardware store enables us to help repair items that may have broken on the trail for the hikers, such as packs, poles, or stoves.
What inspired you to create such a robust offering for the PCT hiker?
Mountain Hardware has always been a stopping point on the PCT trail even before it was designated in 1968. The trail passes just two miles from the front door of the store.
We have maintained a register for the PCT hikers since 1968, where the hikers log in to help hikers behind know who has come through. It has also been used many times to help locate a missing hiker by Search and Rescue groups by helping determine the last known location of the hikers. We’ve also had many hikers come through to look at the logs and find their name when they came by our shop years before which is a lot of fun. Recently I had a hiker that come by the store with his grandson to show him his log at Mountain Hardware from years ago. When the hikers log in we give them a very special pin from Mountain Hardware with the original PCT logo.
What type of customers do you cater to?
Everyone – we are a hardware store! We sell everything a general store would sell. We do not offer fresh food but do have freeze dried food for hikers.
What are some of the most popular items for the PCT hikers?
- Shoes: Altra, Topo, Keen
- Camping and hiking gear: Sea to Summit, Black Diamond
- Backpacking meals: Mountain House, AlpineAire Foods
- Water Filters: Sawyer, Katadyn
- Socks: Darn Tough, Injinji
How do you support the PCT hikers?
- Holding packages for the hikers going North- and South-bound for free.
- Providing a pack parking area where we hold hikers’ packs securely while they’re in town.
- Supplying hikers with a large charging station for all their electronic devices – this is powered in part by our large solar array on our roof.
- Recycling hikers’ empty fuel canisters.
- Taking part in Darn Tough’s Sock Exchange program for hikers’ damaged socks.
- Supplying a hiker box.
- Providing an area with bench seating and shade for hikers to relax and re-organize their packs.
- Providing a weight station both for hikers and their packs.
- Maintaining a list of Trail Angels in the area that can provide many services (i.e. giving hikers rides and sharing places to stay, do laundry, or shower).
- Keeping track of current North Bound trail conditions.
Cover photo credit: Isko Salminen
About the Gear Tester
Kelly Knauf leads the marketing team at Outdoor Prolink. She is a mountain lover, outdoor enthusiast, and professional snack packer. By day she answers emails and writes content, by night she's plotting her next camping trip or snowboarding adventure.