Monday, January 30, 2017
Guide to Harper's Ferry, WV
This past Saturday a good friend of mine and I decided to take a day trip to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
Harper’s Ferry is a National Historical Park that sits right on the border of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. It is only an hour drive from Washington, D.C. making it a perfect day trip.
There are over 12 hiking trails of various difficulty and the majority of them allow you to visit the historic town of Harper’s Ferry that sits right at the meeting of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.
Because it was our first time we decided to do the easiest trail that led right from the visitor’s center to the town. It was only a 4 mile loop with great views and charming sites.
The hike started with a 200 foot drop accompanied by some man-made stone stairs and pretty waterfalls.
Once we got down that portion it was a simple straight walk along the railroad to the town. The B&O railroad runs right along the river and has both cargo and Amtrek stops in the town.
Along the way we saw the old Shenandoah pulp factory (well, what had remained) and some adorable old bridges that allowed traffic across the canal.
As we approached the town it was as if we had gone back in time. We first came across an old book store and an old general store that have been preserved to save their historic charm.
We also ducked into a few self-led museums that highlighted the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the town, historic events such as the Civil War and the Niagra movement, and an old University that hosted some of the first female college students in American history.
Harper's Ferry also seats a BEAUTIFUL old Roman Catholic church: St. Peter's. Unfortunately it was closed for the Saturday, but it was located at the top of the hill of the town and provided breathtaking views of both the building architecture and the town.
At this point (although the trail we chose to walk there was less than strenuous), we were starving.
Because we went in January a lot of the cafes were closed because they don’t get as much traffic. We did however, find an old train caboose that had been converted into a restaurant and from the outside it smelled delicious!
Interestingly, the menu was New Orleans themed so my friend got a Po Boy and I ended up with Fried Butterfly Shrimp.
We saw on display a couple different West Virginia beers: one lager and one amber, so decided when in ‘wild and wonderful’ WV we just had to try them!
After filling ourselves to the max we continued on a bit and walked over a bridge that simultaneously served as a working railroad track and captured views of the whole town and the rivers.
We had about two miles to hike back at this point so we decided to take it slow, enjoy the sun that was about to set and head on back.
Harper’s Ferry is absolutely a destination I would recommend and will be returning to. It was a bit baron during that January winter day, but I can only imagine how beautiful the trees are in the fall and how busy it must get!
Also, we saw pictures of people out on the rivers tubing, canoeing, paddle-boarding, etc…. so that is most definitely top of my list once the weather gets warm. I’ve also heard that some of the trails can be very difficult and strenuous and I would love to gather my hiking friends so we can experience those as well!
All-in-all I recommend Harper’s Ferry for my recreational friends, my history buffs, and all of my families out there! There is something for everyone to do and it’s wonderful to be surrounded by so much nature and history.