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scenic overlook, civil war fortifications, moderate to strenuous climb

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Gerard Smith (236)

20 Completed4 Reviews

I hike mostly in the Western US, so did not think this hike would faze me. WRONG! There were steep parts that were definitely thigh burners. The history and the great views over the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers made it worthwhile. Not many people on the trail on an early October 2014 weekday.

Theresa Schrider (434)

14 Completed7 Reviews

This is a VERY steep hike. Was surprised on how difficult it was at some parts since it was very consistently up hill. But breathtaking views along the whole trail and getting to the overlook is worth it all.

Ricky Monica (123)

4 Completed2 Reviews

Great hike for the earth cache at the lookout

Joseph Siedel (440)

6 Completed2 Reviews

Sunday July, 29th, 2012 I proposed to my now wife Vickie on the balcony at the laurel lodge in Harpers Ferry WV i was originally going to propose at the top of the overlook trail but after thinking things over i decided it was more romantic at the laurel lodge. Regardless the overlook trail is a great hike and we will always will remember Harpers ferry and the Maryland height trail as a Special time in our lives

S Adamson (68)

3 Completed3 Reviews

I have done the shorter hike directly to the Harpers Ferry overlook as well as the longer hike to the top of Maryland Heights and down to the overlook. It is a challenging uphill hike, but the remnants of the Civil War fortifications and the view from the overlook make it worthwhile. There is also a nice view eastward from the top of Maryland Heights of the Potomac as it meanders through the country side. A "must do" hike for any serious hikers in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jenn Majeski (171)

6 Completed3 Reviews

Done the shorter route several times and absolutely love it! Done longer route once and wasn't impressed - not marked/maintained well in several places, and no where near as scenic. Decent for history lovers, but do your research before hiking because many of the informational signs are damaged to the point of being difficult to read.

Scott E Michael (265)

9 Completed9 Reviews

Dont miss this one trail lovers! No excuses accepted wife had knee surgery and made it all the way!!!

Chris Hensley (338)

30 Completed6 Reviews

Great trail! Convenient parking right at trail head on Harpers Ferry Rd. and a great view of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers with Hapers Ferry perched between from the top. Lots of great birds too!

Jeffrey Walters (133)

12 Completed3 Reviews

Wonderful trail! In my opinion, the view from the overlook is the best that you will find within two hours of DC.

The hike to the overlook from the trailhead is about 1.5 miles one way and involves 1000' elevation gain (700' on the way up & 300' on the return). Almost all (more than a mile) of the trail is basically a fire road, so it is very easy to follow and footing is not generally a problem. The final section is more like a typical trail and involves two switchbacks (not counting the one that you take off of the fire road). There is an optional naval battery side trail on the way up, but you will only find earthworks there. This trail to the overlook is short, but it is not very exciting; the reason to hike it is for the payoff at the end.

Those with a bit more time and energy may want to hike up to the stone fort. That trail splits off to the left of the main trail, 0.75 miles from the trailhead. There is a big map on a sign at the split to help you figure out where you'll eventually end up. If you thought that the trail was steep up to this point, it only gets steeper before eventually leveling out. There's even a sign that informs weary hikers that Abraham Lincoln once hiked this mountain but turned around before reaching the top, most likely due to fatigue. Shortly after the trail levels out, it passes by the first ruins of an old fort. Do not expect to find a fort resembling Fort McHenry up here; these forts were basically stone walls erected on the ridge. Ascend some stairs and close by you will reach the other stone fort . From here, you will basically walk down the ridge until you rejoin the same fire road that you were on earlier, albeit further up the mountain. This section of the trail is actually my favorite, assuming it's not overgrown (see next paragraph). Once you reach the fire road, turn left if you want to go to the overlook, which of course, you should!

If you want to hike the upper trail to the stone fort, I recommend doing it in when there is minimal foliage on the trees -- spring is still okay. The views from the ridge are excellent, but they are mostly obstructed by foliage during the summer. The upper trail also appears to not be maintained as often, nor does it get as much foot traffic. The result is that it can become rather overgrown during the summer, though not to the point where you'd have to worry about getting lost.

Alex Rothenberg (551)

22 Completed13 Reviews

I really like this trail. Although a bit strenuous, the hike is a decent workout and affords some nice views at the top. It wasn't super crowded (not nearly as crowded as the town and historic sites), though the train tracks nearby were pretty busy when we were there. Apart from an annoying trip to the historic town from the national park center parking lot, this is a great day hike convenient to the DC metro area.