While looking up trails and parks in the area, I came across Harpers Ferry! Harpers Ferry is located right where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converge at the corners of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. It’s just over an hour away from Washington, DC by car or by train making it a super easy day trip.
Harpers Ferry feels like a town frozen in time. The town is well preserved with 19th century buildings and is full of history! Harpers Ferry was witness to the first successful American railroad, more than 5 civil war battles, and the abolitionist movement!
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park has various museums where you can learn about the area’s civil war history and the industries of the 19th century. The National Park Service has a good guide to the Lower Town and the sites they have to offer.
Make sure to check out John Brown’s Fort just before the overlook of the rivers. Built in 1848, this is where John Brown barricaded himself during his attempted raid of Harpers Ferry. It was the only Armory to survive the Civil War. Interestingly, the building was disassembled and moved several times before returning to Harpers Ferry and ending up in its current location in the 1960s.
Harpers Ferry has more than 22 miles of trails which makes it a great hiking destination. The Appalachian Trail and the C&O Towpath follow along the river. The Maryland Heights Trail on the Maryland side offers an iconic view over Harpers Ferry town. Loudon Heights Trail is on the Virginia side offering another beautiful overlook. You can also explore Bolivar Heights on the West Virginia side which was home to several civil war battles.
When we recently visited, we didn’t have enough time before sunset to do a full trail. Instead we walked across the footbridge and walked part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath along the Potomac River. This is an easy walk but still very scenic. We hope to return and do one of the moderate trails next time!
If you’re looking for more local spots to explore and enjoy the fall foliage, check out my recent post about leaf peeping in the DC area!
Have you been to Harpers Ferry before? What was your favorite part?