Harpers Ferry is a little town with a lot of history packed within its borders. Known as the site of John Brown’s 1859 raid, which changed the course of American history and helped spark the start of the Civil War, today this small town attracts visitors fascinated by both its historical significance and its natural beauty. The Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia, passes through the center of Harpers Ferry, and the town serves as a charming and comfortable resting place for thru-hikers. And there are plenty of shorter hiking trails that surround Harpers Ferry as well, making it a great day trip destination for nature lovers. If you’re craving stunning views, serene forests, and historic ruins, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore these three scenic hiking trails in
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia!
1. Maryland Heights
All three of these trails are located in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and you’ll actually be crossing just over West Virginia’s border into Maryland to hike the aptly named
Maryland Heights Trail.
This trail is well-known for its scenic views from Overlook Cliff, where you’ll be able to gaze down at the place where three states and two rivers merge. It’s one of the best views of Harpers Ferry around.
Be prepared for some serious elevation gain – this is a moderate to strenuous hike. It can also be crowded, especially on nicer days, but it’s crowded for a reason and well worth the trek. Depending on where you start, and whether you include the Stone Fort Loop Trail, the full Maryland Heights Loop can be up to 9.5 miles long. If you start from Lower Town and choose to leave out the Stone Fort Trail, you’ll cut it down to about 4.5 miles long.
When you reach Overlook Cliff, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a beautiful, sweeping view of Harpers Ferry and the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Stay a while, rest your legs, and take it all in before you head back down the trail.
Maryland Heights Trailhead, 489-551 Harpers Ferry Rd, Knoxville, MD 21758, USA
2. Loudoun Heights
Though not as popular,
has views that are just as impressive as those you’ll find on the Maryland Heights Trail. This 7.5-mile long trail is another tough hike, taking about four to five hours to complete.
There are plenty of beautiful sights along the way, so even if you can only do a portion of the trail you’ll still be enjoying some gorgeous scenery. River and valley views, rock formations, lush foliage, and more can be found along this trail.
If you follow the trail all the way up to the Split Rock Overlook, you’ll find a stunning vista awaiting you. This southern view of Harpers Ferry is awe-inspiring in any season.
Loudoun Heights, West Virginia 20132, USA
3. Virginius Island Trail
For those who prefer a more relaxing hike – or even more of a sedate stroll – the
Trail is perfect. This 1-mile long loop trail is nice and flat, and meanders along the banks of the Shenandoah River.
As you walk, you’ll pass all kinds of ruins that remain from the days when this was an active site of industry, harnessing the power of the Shenandoah River. The remnants of canals, tunnels, dams, mills, and even homes are still present on the island today, though nature has reclaimed much of it.
Look for the historical markers along the way to learn more about the island’s sometimes tumultuous past – and be sure to enjoy the river views as well.
Virginius Island, West Virginia, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, USA
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park website for operating hours, and current park conditions, and to buy your passes ahead of time.
Looking for more hiking in the Mountain State? Check out the five
best hikes in West Virginia!
Address: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, 171 Shoreline Dr, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, USA
Address: Loudoun Heights, West Virginia 20132, USA
Address: Maryland Heights Trailhead, 489-551 Harpers Ferry Rd, Knoxville, MD 21758, USA
Address: Virginius Island, West Virginia, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, USA
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