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Sunday, February 2, 2014

#7 - Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights
Saturday, February 1st, and the temps were near 50 in Harpers Ferry, at the point where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers join to continue as one toward Brunswick, Washington, and the Chesapeake Bay.

What a beautiful area, particularly, on a cool, clear, sunny day. Hills, rivers, trains, history, the Appalachian Trail - all join here in this quaint village to make for a perfect day of exploring.

Harpers Ferry Train Station
Where to start? How about the Harpers Ferry Train Station, a rustic, restored, fully operational train station dating to 1889. Parking here allows you to be right smack in the middle of so many things to do. The only questions becomes, what do you do first!

One of many trains we saw today
At any time, a train is sure to come along, as there are two bridges crossing the rivers there. From DC, one set of tracks sends trains onto Martinsburg, WV; the other toward Winchester, VA. With steel trusses crossing the river and a tunnel cut into the hillside, it is a postcard in the making.

All Aboard!
As Bonnie and I made our way to the days hike, you cannot help but stop at the confluence of the two rivers. Both are scenic and beautiful, and with the remaining ice, the sound of the rapids, and even a couple of kayakers out today, you find yourself turning your gaze back to the two rivers.

Potomac river and Maryland to my right - Shenandoah river and Virgina to my left - Standing in West Virginia
But to get to today's hike, we needed to cross the Potomac into Maryland, and the path that gets you there is part of the 2160 mile Appalachian Trail. In fact, at this point, you are very near the mid-point of the trail. The Appalachian Trail joins with the C&O canal on the Maryland side of the Potomac for a short while, before breaking off again and northward onto Maine.

Appalachian Trail
Our hike today began with the Maryland Heights trail, a moderate hike up to a scenic overlook of Harpers Ferry. The snow and ice added a higher level of difficulty, but was still manageable. Along the way, we passed a number of  Civil War encampments and batteries, until we had made it to the overlook.

Maryland Heights Trail
Only one word can describe the overlook, and that is incredible! With remnants of snow on the ground, the village below - with the rivers and the trains - almost appeared as a model village. One you hoped existed so you could visit one day.

Overlook from Maryland Heights
With it being Winter, the crowds were small and gave Bonnie and I the opportunity to sit, have a small lunch, and enjoy the beauty of the area.

Peaceful, beautiful day. Fabulous view.
Back at the bottom, we hiked along the C&O canal, back into Harpers Ferry, and up along the West Virgina side of the Potomac, part of the National Park area. The snow and forming ice from the rocks made for a beautiful, quiet walk, as our hiking boots crunched, crunched, crunched, in the remaining snow.

C&O Canal

Crossing back to Harpers Ferry

Potomac river path - West Virginia

Train heading East
All together, we spent about 6 hours exploring this wonderful area, covering about 8 miles. We have already plotted our next hike for the next time we go - as there is no question - we'll be back again.

Keep hiking my friends.


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