View Full Version : Need Info - Planning a Section Hike: Harpers Ferry area

11-25-2007, 02:55
Hey all,

A buddy and I are planning a section hike for the first week in march. We're going to be meeting up in Harpers Ferry, and I was wondering if I could get some information on about the trail both north and south of there, and which part you would prefer. Also would it be possible to find a shuttler in the area and hike point to point, or would you suggest doing a there and back? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


11-25-2007, 19:16
How far are you planning to go?..How much time do you have?...Going North from HF the trail is a lot lower with limited climbs and a LOT of shelters and springs close together

Appalachian Tater
11-25-2007, 20:41
The first few miles north of Harper's Ferry are on the tow path of the canal-- flat, straight, and practically paved--which is a great treat for a thru-hiker but probably not what a section hiker is looking for. Going south you could stop at Blackburn and Bear's Den.

11-25-2007, 23:51
Thanks for the responses. We'd probably be looking to be hiking March 1st-8th/9th. Ideally I'd like to get dropped off at a point and hike back to Harpers Ferry, but not having to cover more than 10 miles a day. Also, how many miles north from Harpers Ferry are on the C & O canal? Can you tell me more about Blackburn and Bear's Den?

Appalachian Tater
11-26-2007, 00:38
Here, look at the bottom of the Virginia section. Basically you might find shelter, a shower and maybe some food if you're lucky.

11-26-2007, 11:11
Going north from HF, you will be on the C&O for about 3 miles, up the Weverton slope (not very high, I am guessing maybe 1500 feet), and then it is mostly flat hiking through Maryland. I don't think it ever changes more than a thousand feet in elevation, if that.

I just did a trip from Black Rocks down to HF this Thanksgiving weekend, so the memory is pretty fresh. In the summer season, water should be easy at the State Parks along the way, though it was spotty this weekend.

It's a smooth trip, very "nature walky" rather than rugged.

11-26-2007, 12:19
Contact the Harpers Ferry outfitter and see if they have a shuttle available. They'll drop you off a couple of days south or north of HF. The Hilltop house hotel is a good place to overnight at the end of your hike.

Jack Tarlin
11-26-2007, 16:13
You should also plan to visit the offices of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which is located just a few minutes from the center of town. The very friendly staff there can answer any of your questions; plus they'll have maps, guidebooks, etc. Laura Wright, the owner of the Outfitter in Harpers Ferry can also be a great help to visitors.

As far as your itinerary, you might want to start at the Northern end of Shendoah National Park, walk to Harpers Ferry, and then either proceed thru Maryland to the PA border; or better yet, get a ride out to the border and walk back to Harpers in a southbound direction. This could easily be done in a week.

11-26-2007, 16:41
I'd probably get a lift to Boiling Springs or Pine Grove State park and walk back to HF. The trail is pretty easy and mildly scenic. Frankly i'm not a huge fan of the section between Front Royal and HF. I found it to be pretty mundane, and challenging for no real reason, but it was also raining a whole lot. Can't really go wrong with a week on the trail in March though. Should be nice and empty then.

11-26-2007, 17:51
Thanks everybody. The idea about getting a ride to Front Royal and going through to the PA border sounds appealing. Could anybody give me some more information on the actual trail itself in these sections? I know there's a lot of climbs in the Northern Virginia section, is it scenic at all? Are there any major landmarks either North or South of Harpers Ferry that you recommend definately trying to hit? Thanks again.

11-26-2007, 22:43
The entire southern half of Maryland, about 15 miles of it, anyway, is South Mountain, which has a ton of civil war landmarks. Gathland is a famous civil war area, and George Washington Monument park has the first monument to same, and is a very nice place to spend some time. A short detour through Boonsboro would bring you to Antietam Battlefield, but that would require either a shuttle or some significant road walking.

12-01-2007, 22:37
There's an awesome shelter north of Front Royal, Jim and Molly Denton. Just beyond it, there's a meadow on top of a mountain. I'm really partial to that place, I hike up from Manassas Gap quite often.

The next section is a bit bland. Manassas Gap Shelter isn't much to write home about, and Dick's Dome is really strange and small, though the setting is very pretty.

As you approach US 50, there's a beautiful relo (called Ovaka Farm) through the WMA that goes across open areas with superb views. That whole section used to be in the woods (I think it opened in late 2006 or early 2007).

North of 50 does have a lot of up and down, much like I remember all of NY on the AT. :D I love the setting at Sam Moore Shelter, and Bear's Dean Rocks has a great view. The hostel is an excellent one.

North of VA 7 is Crescent Rocks, also a great view, and Blackburn AT Center, which may not be open, but is a super place if it is.

The views over Harpers Ferry from Loudoun Heights are excellent as well.

Having done all of that, I'd take the VA side over the MD side any day of the week.

12-02-2007, 03:23
Awesome, thanks for the advice.

Darwin again
12-03-2007, 20:44
Be prepared for low temps that time of the year, Indy.

I hiked Thornton Gap to HF last year beginning on April 1 and got a chilly surprise: The first few days were warm, even got some sun, but then a front swept through and brought two days of walking in the 30s, complete snow flurries. Luckily stayed one night at Bear's Den. Then, the last night, it was into the teens and my good old 20-degree down bag wasn't quite enough. I had had slush puppies in my water bottles. Socks on my hands... errgh.