Have you ever heard of a little town called Harpers Ferry, West Virginia? It is a little gem in the middle of, well, nowhere.

harpers ferry cannonsHistory

Harpers Ferry is a tiny 19th century villages which lies at the eastern-most point of West Virginia, bordered by the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Harpers Ferry is best known for John Brown’s raid on the Armory in 1859 and its role in the American Civil War. The city changed hands eight times between 1861 and 1865. When Virginia seceded in April 1861, the U.S. garrison attempted to burn the arsenal and destroy the machinery, to prevent the Confederates from using it. Locals saved the equipment, which the Confederate Army transferred to a more secure location in its capital of Richmond.

We lived just outside of Harpers Ferry for a year and a half and even though you are a thirty minute drive to Costco they have so much to offer if you are into outdoor rec!!

History Sites

  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – In 1944, the area was designated a National Monument and in 1963 a National Historical Park. The park has over a dozen sites of interest some of which include the Restoration Museum, the Industry Museum, a Blacksmith Shop, A Place in Time Museum, the Provost Marshal Office, Stipes’ Boarding House, the Dry Goods Store, plus many more.
  • Harpers Ferry and Antietam Battlefields – The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American History. After just 12 hours of fighting 23,000 men were wounded or killed. The commanding victory by the Confederate Army eventually led to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. My kids went on field trips and recreated the battles.

Our favorite thing to do when we lived there was hiking. There are some amazing gorgeous hikes for all skill level.

Hiking Trails Harpers Ferry

harpers ferry viewTown Loop

This walk is just a short 1.4 miles. It both starts and ends at the ATC headquarters on High Street, in Harpers Ferry. This hike has a difficulty rating of moderate, but only because of the 258-foot elevation changes on some steep stone walk ways. There is a wonderful up and down hike through the streets of town past the precariously balanced Jefferson Rock with some distance views of the Potomac River.

Appalachian Trail South

A 4-mile hike on the AT that crosses the bridge over the Shenandoah river and climbs to the West Virginia state line up on a ridge top. It starts at the ATC headquarters the same as the Town Loop. The trail is traveled less by day hikers because it has a difficulty rating of strenuous. As you traverse some rugged and rocky terrain on the way up the ridge you have to watch your step. But there are some beautiful views.

Maryland Heights Trail

This one is a local favorite. This 5.8 mile trail has a strenuous rating due to its 850-foot elevation change. You will be rewarded with a spectacular view (if you get to the top) of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. You can shorten the hike by driving to a trail head on Sandy Hook Road. Just note that the parking lot there often is full on summer weekends.

Appalachian Trail North

This hike also starts at the ATC but how long it goes depends on you. The trial goes through the town following the white blazes painted on lampposts, crosses the footbridge over the Potomac River and then follows the C&O Towpath for the flattest, easiest 2.7 miles of the entire AT. You can make this hike as long or as short as you want. This is a great hike to do with the family or with little kids. You can stop along the way for a snack picnic. No matter how far you go the whole family can enjoy the hike.

No matter what hike you decide to do in Harpers Ferry you will have great views along the way!