Appalachian Trail At Harpers Ferry

What do Nomad Mamas do on Mother’s Day? They hike the Appalachian Trail of course! On Mother’s Day of 2015 Mama Nomad wanted to go hiking. So we journeyed to the Appalachian Trail at Harpers Ferry.

We began our adventure at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Center located at 799 Washington St in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The people in the Visitor Center are very knowledgeable about the Appalachian Trail in total as well as the local area around the trail. After spending about 10 minutes in the Visitor Center we had a lesson on trail markers, directions, the local town and the trails themselves.

We headed out and on our way following the trail markers through town, down a set of twisty stone steps and onto the actual Appalachian Trail; at which point you could head north or south. We wanted to go towards Jefferson Rock and Harpers Ferry Historic Town, so we went North. The path twisted and curved along the mountainside. You could see glimpses of the river through the foliage. And we saw deer on the hillside.

We saw a few interesting things along the way. At one point, there was a tree that fell over and it looked like someone cut a section of that tree and turned it into a bench. Which, of course, Trevor had to try out. Venturing a little bit further we came upon another set of stone steps. Ethan was up to bat and wanted to check it out. It so happens that at the top of those steps was Harper Cemetery.

A little bit further down the trail we came upon Jefferson Rock.  In 1783, Thomas Jefferson stood here and gave a wonderful description of Harpers Ferry.

On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain an hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction, they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea…This scene is worth the voyage across the Atlantic.

Thomas Jefferson was right. The view is absolutely marvelous. I wish my camera could capture exactly what my eyes were able to view. You can see where two great rivers converge, the old traces of bridges, the mountains and the trees. The view was worth the hike.

Leaving Jefferson Rock we continued toward Harpers Ferry Historic Town. Just before we got there, on the left, stood the remains of St. John’s Episcopal Church that was built in 1852. It was used as a Civil War barracks and hospital sustaining considerable damage. It was rebuilt after the war but finally abandoned in 1895.

Within eye shot on the right you can see St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. It had beautiful architectural features along with ornate stained glass. There was also a sign outside of it that advertised ghost tours of the area. This intrigued me so I went exploring around. In front of the church, on the hillside, was a door that went into the hillside. Because I am curious, I checked if it opened or not. Bingo! It did. The boys and I went exploring inside. It seemed to go under the church. We didn’t go to far because I was not sure of structural integrity. But it was neat and spooky at the same time.

From the hillside we could see the Harpers Ferry Historic Town. It was as if time had forgotten it. The stairs down to the town were hand carved in the 1800s. All of the buildings looked like they were from the period as well. This town is filled with little shops and eateries. We stopped and grabbed a bite. More on that in a separate post.

The history of Harpers Ferry Historic Town is that John Brown launched a war on slavery in this town. And it was also the firs US Military Industrial Complex with the US Armory located there. It is adjacent to a railroad line as well as located at the point where the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers converge. So, options of transport of material and supplies were abundant.

From Harpers Ferry Historic Town you can continue onto a foot bridge that is located on the side of a railroad bridge that crosses the Potomac River. This bridge is still used by trains and if you stand on it long enough, you will see one pass. We saw two of them while we were hiking. The bridge leads into a tunnel on the other side of the river. Spoiler alert, you cannot go into the tunnel on foot. We were a little bummed by that. But, the bridge crossing was still enjoyable. And, when you hit the other side, you are in Maryland where you can continue onward with the Appalachian Trail towards Maine.

I have one tip for you. After you visit the Appalachian Trail Visitor Center, get in your car and park down in Harpers Ferry Historic Town somewhere. That way you can hike uphill for the first half and downhill on the way back to your car. We did it in reverse so we trekked uphill at the end of the day.

The day was enjoyable and full of a variety of scenery, foliage, wild life and history. Mama Nomad enjoyed her Mother’s Day out and we enjoyed adventuring with her. Harpers Ferry should be added to your places to visit. And while there, go up to Jefferson Rock and take in the view. Safe Travels.

About Chase

The patriarch of the family and Daddy Nomad. Chase loves spending time with his family, traveling, outdoor activities, good movies and TV shows, business and creative projects. He is an entrepreneurial businessman and investor who specializes in international business strategy and tactics.

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