Harper’s Ferry – A Day Trip


Though it seems like years ago, last September some friends and I hopped in a car to visit Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. The trip was semi spontaneous, but as I do nothing without research and preparation, I did a quick Google for local hikes and packed some snacks in my trunk. And off we went…

The drive to Harper’s Ferry is a little over an hour and relatively straight forward. We parked in one of the public parking lots on Shenandoah Street, which was quite crowded for a nice sunny, late summer day. The public parking lots ask you to pay for your spot, so bring a couple of dollars. We walked along a nice, shaded path towards the town before deciding to start our hike.

We were in the search for a relatively easy hike, but were hoping to reach the pretty Instagram-famous overlook. A quick chat with folks at the Information Center (Harper’s Ferry is a National Historical Park, so they’ve done work to preserve some of the history of the area. The Information Center held a brief overview of the area, including the relevance of John Brown and other historical events.) and the Gift Shop gave us the route we were searching for.

Harper’s Ferry is literally on the corner of West Virginia right where the state comes to meet Maryland on one side of the Potomac River and Virginia on the other. We crossed the river to Maryland, which was filled with folks out tubing (and drinking), via the Winchester and Potomac Railroad Bridge. (We crossed as a train came through, which was slightly frightening, but also pretty dang cool.) The walking path was pretty easy to follow and there were a couple of different options for easier hikes. We took the Maryland Heights Trail that ends at the scenic overlook.

What they didn’t tell us is that it’s a pretty decent hike to get there. I am a hiking wuss (and watching small children run up mountains next to you doesn’t do much for your pride). There are some pretty steep sections and it isn’t a short walk. We made it, but I did some huffing and puffing (quick reminder that I need to hit the gym). The view was worth it.

After many an Instagram shot and a snack, we made our way back down and back across the river. By this point, we’d spent enough time hiking that we were in the hunt for ice cold water and some food. Luckily, the town of Harper’s Ferry provided. We stopped at the Coffee Mill and ate at their outdoor patio. I don’t know if I’m the person to speak to the taste of the food (I may have been very hungry and scarfed it all down), but my memories are positive of the experience.

We finished off our day with a walk uphill to see the rest of the historic town, stopping when the houses looked a little too much like our own suburbs. On our way back down the hill, we popped into Tessoterica for a couple scoops of ice cream and a look at the local goods before heading back towards the car.

The car ride home was definitely filled with a little less conversation and a few more snores, but overall, it was a well spent day.