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  1. #1
    Registered User Montego's Avatar
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    Default Information Needed

    I'll be SOBO from Harpers Ferry starting May 7th, however, the Amtrak from Washington Union Station won't arrive into Harpers Ferry until after 5:00 pm. Seems that I have three choices (camping):

    1) SOBO from HF to the David Lesser Memorial Shelter (9.45 miles) which puts me into there well after dark (water 0.2 miles downhill from shelter + tenting sites).

    2) NOBO from HF to the Ed Garvey Shelter (6.5 miles) which puts be into there just before dark (water 0.4 miles steep downhill from shelter + 2 tenting sites).

    3) NOBO from HF to Weverton Primitive Camp (3.4 miles) which puts me into there well before dark (no water). Bring water from HF?

    All information is taken from the Appalachian Pages Book, Southbound Edition.

    What I need to know is what ideas you guys and gals have about where you might spend your first night on the AT among the three choices above and whether a small cooking fire might be permitted (since I can't bring any fuel on either Greyhound or Amtrak and everything will be closed when I arrive). Also, if #3 is the best choice among the three listed above, where would I be able to get water in HF for the night? Any permits required to camp? Any other ideas? Don't want to spend the money for a hostel or hotel on the first night!

  2. #2
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    Default PM Lauriep

    You could click on the link I've provided and PM ATC's Information Services Manager, Lauriep, and ask her. She knows Harpers Ferry, it's her job and she's good at it.

  3. #3
    Registered User KG4FAM's Avatar
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    You could probably find a place to camp right outside of town in the woods somewhere.

  4. #4
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    Listen you can camp out along the C&O canal trail with pleanty of water from the Potomac River! I did back in '01 all the time after I went to work at Ridgecrest Farm And Apple Orchard.

  5. #5
    Registered User Montego's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Only Wanderer View Post
    Listen you can camp out along the C&O canal trail with pleanty of water from the Potomac River! I did back in '01 all the time after I went to work at Ridgecrest Farm And Apple Orchard.
    This is an option I hadn't thought of and may be the one I go with. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montego View Post
    This is an option I hadn't thought of and may be the one I go with. Thanks.
    Every 5 miles there is a campsite along the canal with tent sites, water ( other than the river). There is one at about mile 62.5 which is about 2 miles north of Harpers Ferry near locks 35,36 according to a book I have. It also shows one about 2.5 miles south of HF but says it is closed.

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't go for the Garvey shelter or Weverton Cliffs. It's not that it's far - but there is a wicked set of steep uphill switchbacks after you cross the road from the canal. Unless you're a pretty strong hiker it's going to take a lot longer to get up that than the same distance on flat ground. The same if you head for the Lesser shelter - - wicked uphill switchbacks after you cross the river. There is a hotel (the Hilltop Inn or something like that) right there in town that a lot of hikers use.

    Just for the sake of correct info - - we've stayed at the Garvey shelter and there are a lot more than 2 tent sites. We set up 3 tents, there was another much larger tent near us with room for at least 2 more tents, and other people tenting on the other side of the shelter. It's that trail down to the spring that's the killer - very steep so the trip back up is tough.
    Last edited by Mrs Baggins; 03-15-2008 at 08:03. Reason: add info
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

  8. #8
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    There are a number of options, as you have discovered. There is also a hostle just off the canal in Maryland, and the Hilltop House in HF.

    I'd suggest that you know your options, and make your decision when you get off the train. It might be raining, so you might want to find the closest dry place to sleep, or you could be full of energy and want to go to Ed Garvey.

  9. #9

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    Plenty of camping on the C/O. Get fuel at the outfitter in Harpers ferry, although you should be able to carry fuel on Amtrak or the Dog. My option would be to spend the night at the Hilltop right above the station.
    E-Z---"from sea to shining sea''

  10. #10

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    I cringe when I hear someone told to walk in the opposite direction of their hike. In all my hiking days I have only hiked backward once, on purpose. I know it would only be a short bit back to the C & O, but he's SOBO.

    I say get a room at the motel. Relax. Eat a good dinner. Enjoy the continental breakfast then push out. Or just load up on water in HF, hike southbound for a few miles and drop at the first tentable site. If you get out of HF around 6pm, you should have time to get back into the woods between the bridge and Keys Gap. I can remember one spot where we broke, guessing it was the VA/WV state line, that was suitable for a tent.
    Yahtzee

  11. #11
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    Spend your night at HF at the Hilltop Hotel. Great views, decent buffet meals, inexpensive.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yahtzee View Post
    I cringe when I hear someone told to walk in the opposite direction of their hike. In all my hiking days I have only hiked backward once, on purpose. I know it would only be a short bit back to the C & O, but he's SOBO.

    I say get a room at the motel. Relax. Eat a good dinner. Enjoy the continental breakfast then push out. Or just load up on water in HF, hike southbound for a few miles and drop at the first tentable site. If you get out of HF around 6pm, you should have time to get back into the woods between the bridge and Keys Gap. I can remember one spot where we broke, guessing it was the VA/WV state line, that was suitable for a tent.
    I camped out there thurs night. There was a real nice tenting spot just below the ridge before you get to the intersection with the Loudoun Heights trail. There was also an orange blazed trail right by the camping spot that is not on the map that I have. You will have to carry water with you. It is a little bit of a climb, but at least you will be heading the right way. Have a great time!!!


  13. #13
    As in "dessert" not "desert"
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    If money is not a big deal, there's the hotel already mentioned and a Comfort Inn in Harper's Ferry.

    Where is the Amtrak station in Harper's Ferry? If you go over to the C&O canal towpath, as stated, you could stealth in the woods almost immediately.

  14. #14

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    IIRC you do the climb southbound out of town the ridge levels off and you could find a flat spot. Maybe a mile or two.

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    Quality Inn was always my choice, nice greasy breakfast the next morning.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by _terrapin_ View Post
    Spend your night at HF at the Hilltop Hotel. Great views, decent buffet meals, inexpensive.
    My preference would be precisely what _terrapin_ suggests. I would add it might be the most convenient option too.

    Enjoy Hilltop's breakfast buffet, their view of The Potomac and visit ATC before beginning your hike.

  17. #17
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    When I was in HF last year...
    1. The locals told me that the Amtrack train can be VERY late (4-5 hours) Take the MARC commuter train from Washington instead.

    2. There was a hostel in construction, right near the outfitter's. You might want to call the outfitter to ask about it.

    3. If you hike NOBO you can camp within a mile of HF. There's plenty of flat spots right along the canal.

  18. #18
    As in "dessert" not "desert"
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    Why not take the MARC commuter train out to HF in the morning? It runs both ways, doesn't it? (I don't know what connections you are using, but could you change your plans to get to HF in the morning and immediately head south?)

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by dessertrat View Post
    Why not take the MARC commuter train out to HF in the morning? It runs both ways, doesn't it? (I don't know what connections you are using, but could you change your plans to get to HF in the morning and immediately head south?)
    It's a commuter train that goes into the city in the morning and back out at night.

    http://www.nps.gov/hfc/contact/directions-train.htm

  20. #20
    Registered User Montego's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your responses. Spent most of the day checking out transportation/destination options. So far it seems that the only way to get to HF from OKC is Greyhound or Amtrak to Washington Union Station, then Amtrak or MARC to HF. Though I did want to see HF and visit the ATC, it's not a necessity.

    I'm starting to rethink things over and am now looking at the idea of getting on the AT at Front Royal via Greyhound from OKC (Same number of transfers, but shorter bus time), plus Front Royal seems to have more hiker amenities versus HF which seems to be more of a tourist area. So, who is familiar with the Front Royal area and would it be more 'hiker friendly' than HF?

    If I do end up going to HF, going NOBO to camp one night on the C&O Canal Towpath would not be a problem (uh, probably just my attitude in general about hiking ).

    The Hilltop sounds nice but I didn't want to spend my first night on the AT in a hotel or hostel. Heck, I can do that in any city.

    Thanks for the link to the MARC. I checked their web site earlier today but couldn't find what I was looking for (viable route).

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