Harpers Ferry: Hiking the Heights

Driving merely one hour outside of this city will land  you in the corner of three different states – Maryland, Virginia & West Virginia. You’ll find yourself at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, with a view on every side.

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This also happens to be the intersection of the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) and Appalachian trails – almost exactly halfway between Maine and Georgia.

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In need of a healthy dose of wilderness, a day out of the city and a reminder of what hiking all afternoon does for the mind, we drove the 60 minutes to this historic town and set out to explore.

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Surprised to find more than one lunch shop that offered “veggie options”, we filled our stomachs with more fuel than needed for this short 4-mile hike, and topped it off with a rare treat – Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, on a cone.

Give this guy ice-cream and he’ll smile for days. Easy as that.

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The guide at the Visitors Center talked our ears off about Civil War history, while briefly mentioning the “Maryland Heights” hike. This is the most popular route in town, leading you up approximately 1,100 ft to an Overlook. It only takes a little over an hour, and you only need to check your sanity once or twice – thanks to the gnat infestation that will not leave you alone.

Ice-cream in hand, we crossed the bridge and headed up!

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Admittedly, the climbing was a little more challenging than it should’ve been. You don’t have a lot of distance to lead you up, and essentially you follow a dirt road that eventually narrows into a trail. Our Colorado-hiking legs would be ashamed at how long it’s been since we’ve busted out the boots and backpack, aiming for elevation gain. But, for the first hike of the season, this was just right.

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While we aren’t looking out on any Rockies, this isn’t a bad view from the top! We see green for days, and D sees roads where he’ll be back to visit on the bike. I see historic landmarks that my Dad would love, a little family outing for next time.


Next up – Old Rag, and more of the Appalachian Trail (though you won’t find us in Georgia or Maine anytime soon).

What do you find one hour away from your doorstep?

Any other DC-ers with a hike to recommend??



Filed under cross training, DC, hiking, weather love, weekends

12 responses to “Harpers Ferry: Hiking the Heights

  1. Emily

    Happy Easter! That sounds so fun! Did you know you can tube down part of the river there? It’s really fun!

  2. Elizabeth

    Sounds like the perfect weekend for you two! Especially with the ice cream.

  3. Few things can top a day of hiking and ice cream eating!

    I hear you on the “Colorado legs being ashamed”. The hikes out here are short, sweet, and a far cry from a 14-er!

  4. I knew I liked your boo. I have a similar reaction to ice cream:)

    The Appalachian is beautiful – amazing pics girl. Andrew has hiked a bit of it…I’ve only gone on a day hike. The views are definitely spectacular.

  5. I’ve visited before and just drove by it this weekend! I also really like the hike to Bear’s Den which is a segment of the Appalachian trail. Gorgeous view. If you’re looking for other VA hikes, I loved Reddish Knob near JMU in Harrisonburg VA.

  6. Looks like a beautiful hike and great day!
    An hour away…not too much. But 3.5 hours away and we’re in Jasper National Park. Can’t beat the hikes there!

  7. Okay, that sounds like SUCH fun. I would love to go hiking with M…and with ice cream in hand. yum 😉

  8. Mamacita

    Love the pics of your hike and it is definitely something that we would like to do next time we are in D.C. Fun fun especially with an ice cream stop.
    Love, Mamacita

  9. Lauren

    Looks so pretty!! I agree with Ma, I want to do this when we visit! Yay ice cream! Obviously my favorite part. 🙂 Glad you had a good Easter. We missed you! See you soon!

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