Harper’s Ferry is a beautiful, quaint, historic small town only an hour drive from Washington DC. It’s famous for its civil war history and its miles of great hiking and biking trails. It sits at the junction of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland as well as the Potomac River and Shenandoah River. It also runs along the famous CO canal which is perfect for a family bike ride.
Harper’s Ferry is most famous for its Civil War history and specifically John Brown’s raid in October 1859. Abolitionist John Brown led a small group to attack a US arsenal in order to supply a slave revolt. Some name it as one of the final events leading up to the civil war. Today you can still visit the arsenal (renamed John Brown’s Fort).
Harper’s Ferry is also the symbolic mid-way point of the 2178 mile long Appalachian Trail (AT) and location of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. (The real mid-way point is several miles away in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania). Out of Harper’s Ferry you can hike on a portion of the AT headed North to Maine or South to Georgia. The National Parks Service calls hiking in Harper’s Ferry some of the best in America. The area is gorgeous and trails run alongside and overlook the rivers. Some key views include Jefferson’s Rock, Loudon Heights, Maryland Heights and the Point. If you are not into hiking, still visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to learn more about the trail and meet some hikers. And if you are feeling generous, thru hikers and long distance hikers always appreciate “trail magic” which is when they are gifted a treat like a fruit or a soda (anything tasty that is too heavy for the trail).
The town is also a wonderful place to relax, walk around, grab a bite to eat and especially to enjoy an ice cream cone!
A fun stop on your way to or from Harper’s Ferry is Beans in the Belfry. While the food isn’t great, the beverages and desserts are fantastic, and the atmosphere in this converted church is worth it. It is especially fun on Sunday afternoons when they have an old time music jam session. But check out their schedule for other music performances.
Harper’s Ferry is beautiful any time of the year, but especially in the fall with the changing of the colors!