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Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic

Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic

by Matt Willen
Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic

Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic

by Matt Willen


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Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic by Matt Willen provides readers with detailed information on 43 of the best Appalachian Trail day hikes along the 450 miles stretch of trail that extends from Harper's Ferry, West Virginia to the New York/Connecticut state line.

The guide includes a range of hikes, from those that are suitable for families with small children looking for a nice walk in the woods, to the seasoned hiker out for challenging weekend. Many of the hikes make use of adjacent side trails to create loop and balloon configuration trips as well as out-and-back excursions, and all of the trips can be completed with a single car. Each of the profiles includes pertinent information on the history or natural history of the hike and provides recommendations for other activities or sites of interest in the area.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634040693
Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press
Publication date: 11/21/2016
Series: Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 288
File size: 38 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Matt Willen is an outdoors writer, explorer, and photographer who divides his time between central Pennsylvania and the Canadian Maritimes. Matt has a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and degrees from schools in Colorado and Arizona. Before devoting his time to writing about the outdoors, he was a professor for 15 years at a small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania, and he worked for the Colorado Outward Bound School and other outdoors programs for 15 years. An avid sea kayaker and wilderness trekker, Matt has traveled in the outdoors for 40 years. The locations of some of his recent adventures include Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego, Iceland and Newfoundland. He lives in Hershey, PA.

Read an Excerpt

Harpers Ferry

SCENERY: ★★★★★





GPS TRAILHEAD COORDINATES: N39° 19.523' W77° 44.431'


HIKING TIME: 1 hour to all day

HIGHLIGHTS: Historic Harpers Ferry, Jefferson Rock, confluence of Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

ELEVATION: 527' at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy office; 245' at the Potomac River

ACCESS: Open 24/7; no fees or permits required. Parking is very limited in Harpers Ferry; the A.T.C. recommends parking on Washington Street downhill from its office.

MAPS: National Park Service Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; town map available at Appalachian Trail Conservancy office in Harpers Ferry; USGS Harpers Ferry

FACILITIES: Restrooms, food and drink available at the numerous museums and establishments in town

CONTACT: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 304-535-6331,

COMMENTS: This is a great hike for the whole family. Plan on spending a fair amount of time visiting the Lower Town.


Beginning at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (A.T.C.) Visitor Center, this hike makes a loop through the historic Lower Town of Harpers Ferry, which encompasses the point of land at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The whole town is in effect a museum, with many of the buildings containing exhibits.

Route Details

Harpers Ferry is best known as the site of John Brown’s Raid in 1859. Along with 21 armed men, John Brown led a revolt intended to initiate a rebellion against slavery. The men captured and occupied the federal armory’s fire engine and guard house, now referred to as John Brown’s Fort, near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Ultimately, they were captured by a group of marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee, and Brown was hanged. The event, however, was prescient in that it in many respects foretold the Civil War, which began two years later.

Begin this hike at the A.T.C. Visitor Center at the corner of Washington Street and Storer College Place in Harpers Ferry. From the visitor center, follow blue blazes southbound along Storer College Place. The road ends at Fillmore Street. Make a left onto Fillmore Street and then a quick right onto the footpath through the Storer College campus. The path is blazed as it passes through the campus. Storer College, a historically black college, began as a school for freed slaves. Now the buildings are used by the National Park Service. The large building on the right as you enter the campus is the Stephen T. Mather Training Center for the National Park Service.

Continue across the campus following the blue blazes, down a set of steps, and through a small parking lot, where the path exits from the southwest corner and becomes a dirt track in woods. Just below the parking area, the path joins the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), and onto it you will turn left (northbound), heading east above the Shenandoah River. The first point of interest along the trail is Jefferson Rock, about 0.5 mile from gaining the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, the trail hugs the cliffs and passes through the woods high above the river. Some old stone walls indicate that you are entering the historic section of town, and a set of steps leads up to the Lockwood House.

Beyond these steps, the trail begins a steady descent and soon comes out to Jefferson Rock on the right (0.7 mile). The view from the large slab of rock is outstanding. Thomas Jefferson, for whom the rock is named, declared the view from here to be one of “the most stupendous scenes in Nature.” To your right you get a view up the Shenandoah River Valley to the south and west, and to the left, you can look downstream past a church steeple and over Harpers Ferry to the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and the Potomac River Valley beyond.

From Jefferson Rock, the path is paved. It descends a little more steeply toward the old town of Harpers Ferry. Shortly beyond the rock, the A.T. passes the ruins of St. John’s Episcopal Church on the left. The A.T. continues down steps to Church Street and past St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on the right, the steeple of which dominates the view from Jefferson Rock. Continue down Church Street to its end at High Street. At this point, the A.T. crosses High Street and passes through a small courtyard. Instead of following it, turn right and follow High Street to its end at Shenandoah Street. Directly across from High Street on Shenandoah is the foundation of one of the old arsenals that dates back to the days of John Brown.

To the right (west) along Shenandoah Street, you’ll find the information center for the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and several museums. To your left, you will be looking at John Brown’s Fort, the small stone building where John Brown was captured. The John Brown Museum is on the north side of Shenandoah Street next to Stephenson’s Hotel.

Continue along Shenandoah Street to the east, and pick up the A.T. again at its end. Turn right and walk past John Brown’s Fort and beneath the railroad tracks. Once beyond the tracks, the A.T. bends to the left and follows the footpath alongside the train tracks over the Potomac at the confluence with the Shenandoah River. The railroad section of the bridge is a bit of an eyesore, but the scenery includes items of both natural and historical interest and is still quite lovely in this area. From the A.T.C. Visitor Center to the east side of the bridge is about 1.1 miles. Here the railroad enters a tunnel below Maryland Heights, and the A.T. descends a set of steps to the C&O Canal Towpath. You can hike to the top of Maryland Heights via a side trail gained from the canal path upstream along the Potomac River. A map detailing the route is available at the A.T.C. Visitor Center.

After returning to town, follow the A.T. blazes a short distance along Potomac Street, and then to the left through the little courtyard across to High Street. Once on High Street, turn right. High Street eventually becomes Washington Street, at the corner of Church Street, and in 0.75 mile it returns to the A.T.C. Initially, along High Street in downtown, you’ll walk past several shops and a couple of restaurants, all in old historical buildings.

Nearby Attractions

Really, the whole town is full of nearby attractions. The main visitor center for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park ( is located about 2 miles from downtown following Shenandoah Street. Shuttle buses run between the visitor center and downtown. If you would like to grab a bite to eat along the hike, I recommend Bistro 840 (304-535-1860; on the west side of High Street, about two blocks uphill from downtown, or the Potomac Grille (304-535-1900) directly across the street from it.


From US 340 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, an officially designated Appalachian Trail Community, head north onto Union Street. Follow Union Street 0.4 mile to Washington Street. Turn right onto Washington Street and follow it 0.2 mile to Storer College Place. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Center is on the southeast corner at 799 Washington St.

Table of Contents

Overview Map

Overview Map Key




Hiking Recommendations


West Virginia and Maryland

1 Harpers Ferry

2 Weverton Cliffs

3 White Rocks and Lambs Knoll

4 Washington Monument

5 Annapolis Rock

6 High Rock


7 Chimney Rocks

8 Hosack Run

9 Toms Run and Sunset Rocks

10 PoleSteeple

11 Center Point Knob

12 PA 850 to Tuscarora Trail

13 Cove Mountain South

14 Cove Mountain North

15 Clarks Ferry via Susquehanna Trail

16 Clarks Ferry and Peters Mountain

17 TableRock

18 PA 325 to PA 443

19 Cold Spring and Rausch Gap

20 Yellow Springs from PA 443

21 Round Head and Shikellamy Overlook

22 Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle

23 PA 309 to Bear Rocks

24 Mount Minsi

New Jersey

25 Sunfish Pond

26 Culvers Fire Tower Overlook

27 Lake Rutherford

28 New Jersey High Point

29 Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge: Liberty Loop Trail

30 Pochuck Boardwalk

31 Wawayanda Mountain

New York

32 Eastern Pinnacles and Cat Rocks

33 Mombasha High Point

34 Island Pond and Fingerboard Mountain

35 Silver Mine Lake

36 West Mountain Loop

37 Bear Mountain Loop

38 Bear Mountain Zoo and Bridge

39 AnthonysNose

40 Canopus Hill

41 Shenandoah Mountain

42 Nuclear Lake

43 Great Swamp and Dover Oak

APPENDIX A: Contact Information

APPENDIX B: Hiking Clubs and Organizations

APPENDIX C: Appalachian Trail Communities





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