To many an Appalachian Trail thru hiker, Harpers Ferry likely means something a little extra special. While I didn't travel 1,000 miles on foot to get to this point in the AT, I did find out firsthand why this section of the AT is a special place. BY MATT MILLS
Harpers Ferry, WV is often considered to be the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail, as more than 1,000 miles of the AT lies both north and south of the town. Harpers Ferry is not the true halfway point of the AT in terms of mileage, but it is close to that, and it definitely serves as the symbolic halfway point of the long journey.
I started the hike at dawn on an unusually warm and foggy fall morning and left footprints in the dew-covered C&O Canal bridge as I made my way across the Potomac River. The trail then followed alongside the Potomac for quite some time, doubling as the C&O Canal Towpath.
Shortly after passing Israel Creek, the trail takes a hard left to leave the C&O Towpath, stay on the AT and head toward Weverton Cliffs. I reached Weverton Road at approximately the 3.4-mile mark to start the steeper portion of the hike up to the cliffs.
The views at Weverton Cliffs were tremendous as always, although slightly obscured by the fogs and cloud. After a short break overlooking the rivers, I turned and retraced my steps back to Harpers Ferry.
The trail has a historic feel to it -- you can tell its been molded by thousands of footsteps before you -- and leaves you with a peace that can only be attained after a nice walk in the woods.
Distance: 8.2 miles round-trip
Elevation change: 600 feet
Time: 4 hours
Distance from Baltimore, MD: 1 hour
See alsoWeverton Cliffs, shorter variation
More info:Hiking trails overview: Harpers Ferry
1. Parking can be a little problematic in Harpers Ferry. Research options ahead of time.
2. No permits are necessary to hike.
Mile 0.0: Begin at the corner of Potomac St. and Shenandoah St. Follow the AT across the Potomac River to begin the hike.
0.2: After crossing the footbridge over the Potomac River, take a hard right and continue on the C&O Towpath / AT.
2.8 Take a hard left, leaving the C&O Towpath but continuing on the AT.
3.4 Begin steeper, rockier switchbacks up to the cliffs.
4.1: Reach Weverton Cliffs.
1. Great views from Weverton Cliffs.
2. A short hike on a storied section of the AT.
Weather: Unusually warm and foggy Fall morning.
- State: MD
- City: Baltimore
- Distance: 0.0
- Land Type: Other