Monday, October 20, 2014

Visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

I have many favorite places to visit in the mid-Atlantic, but Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a special place. I wish I could visit every weekend.  Frankly, I wouldn't mind living in the area.  But so far, I've only taken day trips to the beautiful little town. 

Photographic print by Jeffrey D. Walters
Personally, I go to Harpers Ferry in order to enjoy the scenery and to climb the hill to the Maryland Heights overlook.  Or I spend the day walking around the town among the old buildings.  Occasionally, I stop before I get to the town, and sit at the river's edge and watch the flotilla of humans, enjoying the river in innertubes, kayaks, and canoes. I love the look and feel of this little water community; tucked in at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Where the states of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland meet. 

Recommending Harpers Ferry as a place to visit is easy for me since I think everyone can find something they like while there. People who like historical towns, architecture, outdoor recreation, civil war and black history will especially enjoy their visit.  

Hilltop Church Harpers Ferry by Greg Dale
A bit of trivia, Harpers Ferry was originally spelled with an apostrophe (Harper's Ferry) and continues to be found this way in literature. However, It is now correct to spell it without an apostrophe. I don't know what caused the change but I do know that I tend to revert to the apostrophe version frequently.  I am trying to break that habit.  But you will likely see it spelled both ways. 

Outdoor recreation 
Tour the area by raft, zipline, horseback, or bicycle.  There are several different adventures and outfitters to choose from
Indoor recreation (a.k.a shopping)
There is no mall or superstore type of shopping located in this town. Not that I have seen. But there are many little shops offering beautiful items for sale. Shop-a-holics can find great gifts or treats for themselves. 

Appalachian Trail  (AT)
Harpers Ferry is considered the "psychological halfway point" by the AT thru-hikers. Because of the close proximity to the AT trail, Harpers Ferry is also an excellent place for day hikes on the AT

Maryland Heights Trails
The Harper's Ferry National Historical Park is a highly recommended walking park and offers 20 miles of trails. There are riverside paths, battlefield trails, and my favorite Maryland Heights trail.  Maryland Heights is across the Potomac river from town and up that giant hill.  It is miles long and a steep and difficult (for me anyway) trail. But it is well worth the effort when you are able to see the town from the overlook area.  The first photograph in this article shows the breathtaking sight from that area. 

Civil War and Black History 
Abolitionist John Brown Wax Museum Photo by Joel Sartore
I can't even being to share the importance of this town to both civil war history and black history, and history in general.  The John Brown raid precipitated the civil war in Harpers Ferry.  Three civil war battles occurred here. Harpers Ferry was the site for the first academic college for freed slaves (Storer College) as well as the site for the US of the Niagara Movement (which later became the NAACP).  I was aware of the civil war history in the area but only became adequately aware of the importance in shaping history for freed slaves when I accidentally parked in a parking lot between the Storer college buildings in order to get my bearings.  I was there that day to hike, I will return to look more closely at these buildings and the self-guided tour.

Maybe you can begin to understand why Harpers Ferry is one of my favorite places to be.  This is just the smallest peek at what this town has to offer.  

Replica of John Brown's Fort by mamaGeek cc by 3.0
If you go, I have two important bits of advice. Be sure to wear good walking shoes and bring water. Parking in this area is limited because of the layout of the town.  Tourists have several parking lots to use but the closest fills up early.  I have seen days where there is no parking in the park or at the train station. There are shuttles from the more distance parking lots. Also, if you plan to walk or hike, pack plenty of water.  I always walk farther than I meant to.  Being thirsty is not safe or comfortable when you hike. 

If you ever have the chance to visit Harpers Ferry, I hope you take it.  It is a wonderful place to experience.

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.  

6 comments:

  1. My son lived in Maryland for awhile and Harpers Ferry was one of his favorite places to visit. Fun to read your review of this pretty place in the Mid-Atlantic.

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  2. Wow, I have driven through Harper's Ferry often, but never knew all these great things and places to visit. Now, it's on my "things to do" list for my next trip. Thanks for sharing the tips, too. Walking shoes - check, water - check!

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  4. Both my husband and our son are history buffs. Going to Harpers Ferry with either of them would be like hiking with someone from the Civil War era. How they retain so much information is always beyond me. I would love to take a few days, or even a week to walk the trails, read the historical plaques, ride horses, and simply enjoy visiting West Virginia. I bet it is quite beautiful right this time of year too.

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  5. We visited Harpers Ferry years ago when our children were young. Your article brings it back to life...we must stop again sometime.

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  6. absolutely outstanding! Would love to visit here. I wouldn't mind spending a weekend there; could use the break. These photos are beautiful!

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