Nestled between West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia is Harpers Ferry. I recall reading about this place in high school and being intrigued by it for its historical significance. I thought to myself, “I have to visit this place one day!” So my friends and I trekked out to West Virginia on Saturday to pay Harpers Visit a visit.
Harpers Ferry is a gem in West Virginia. Fresh air, lush nature, and peaceful rivers define this beautiful place. It’s most prominently marked by the confluence of the Shenandoah River with the Potomac River, which is a sight to behold. A part of the Appalachian Trail also meanders its way through the park. Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry in 1783 and later wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature.” If you’re seeking tranquility and a break from the heyday of Washington, this is the perfect weekend escape or day trip.
Most notably, Harpers Ferry became the site of John Brown’s failed raid during the Civil War. Here’s more about the event from Civil War Trust:
On the evening of October 16, 1859 John Brown, a staunch abolitionist, and a group of his supporters left their farmhouse hide-out en route to Harpers Ferry. Descending upon the town in the early hours of October 17th, Brown and his men captured prominent citizens and seized the federal armory and arsenal. Brown had hopes that the local slave population would join the raid and through the raid’s success weapons would be supplied to slaves and freedom fighters throughout the country; this was not to be. First held down by the local militia in the late morning of the 17th, Brown took refuge in the arsenal’s engine house. However, this sanctuary from the fire storm did not last long, when in the late afternoon US Marines under Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived and stormed the engine house, killing many of the raiders and capturing Brown. Brown was quickly placed on trial and charged with treason against the state of Virginia, murder, and slave insurrection. Brown was sentenced to death for his crimes and hanged on December 2, 1859.
There’s so much history tied to Harpers Ferry, so I’ll let you read up on its history .
For you hiking enthusiasts out there, there are two prominent hiking trails to select from: the Loudoun Heights Trail (Virginia side) and the Maryland Heights Trail (Maryland side). We chose to hike the Virginia side since it’s less crowded. Overall, our hike totaled 9.3 miles.
Below are some pictures my sister and I took during the hike:
Breathtaking, right? If this blog post has convinced you to visit Harpers Ferry, here are some recommendations:
- Pack plenty of water and light snacks (trail mix, fruit snacks, beef jerky, vegetables)
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Have bug spray to repel mosquitoes and ticks
- Wear sunscreen
- Eat the night before and have a hearty breakfast
- Hike with a decent-sized group of people. It’s easy to get lost there.
In preparation for hiking Harpers Ferry, I recommend visiting Hiking Upward to map out your trek up either trail. It’s a great resource marked by user-friendly features to help hikers plan out their hikes. Additionally, learn more about Harpers Ferry prior to visiting.
Happy Hiking, fellow D.C. denizens and transplants! Have you hiked here before? Did you enjoy it? Let me know your thoughts!