Out-and-Back South of Harper’s Ferry
July 30 - Aug 1
Harper’s Ferry – David Lesser Shelter/Cooper Spring – Harper’s Ferry
approx 18.8 miles
FRIDAY: Union Station → Harpers Ferry
4:05PM – 5:16PM AMTRAK
4:55PM – 6:16PM MARC
5:40PM – 7:15PM MARC
7:15PM – 8:42PM MARC
SUNDAY: Harpers Ferry → Union Station
11:25AM – 1:10PM AMTRAK
After Gloria had to back out of a weekend trip, raced to Union Station, desperate to get outta town. Bought ticket on train, $14. Commuter train stopped at about a dozen little towns along the way, some barely more than crossroads. Pleasant scenery, train wasn’t all that crowded.
Hopped out at Harper’s Ferry with an hour and a half of daylight to spare. Such a cool little spot. No stores seemed open on a Friday evening, don’t count on finding anything there. Followed Shenandoah Street through National Park buildings, rather than hiking Appalachian Trail up the hill into town. Rejoined the trail at 370, crossed Shenandoah River and hiked a mile so up the bluff towering over the river. 1000 foot elevation gain in the first mile after the river. Didn’t make it all the way up before dark, set up tent with headlamp and bivouacing at a quasi-site still inside Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park – no camping allowed – and not quite to the Appalachian Trail N.P. – camping allowed.
Crested the bluff after twenty minutes of morning hiking, and crossed into national forest not long after. Largely level terrain once you get to the top, but unfortunately there aren’t any views, at least during summer. Long stretches of leafcovered rockfields. Several nice established camping options (no water, though) in the ~2 mile level stretch between park boundary and powerline cut.
A mile after powerline cut, trail crosses VA7. A pleasant 3 miles south of the highway, a side trail leads to the left (west) toward David Lesser cabin. Complete with nice shelter, covered kitchen, and five camp sites. The real treat’s the spring. Clear and cool, a little hike below the campsites. After filling up (had to boil, don’t have a filter yet...) started the return trip. Crossed VA7 and stopped at the first campsite after the powerline cut.
Hiked downhill back to Harper’s Ferry to catch morning train. Made quick time, with ice cream and stroll through the historic district as a reward. AMTRAK train apparently isn’t time-reliable. Train an hour late, but comfortable when on-board. Tried to buy a ticket onboard, but conductor let me off with a “Happy Birthday” and a wave. A few fellow Midwestern hikers suggested a three-day trip, north to south, starting at a commuter bus stop along the train 30 miles south of Harper’s Ferry. Would be a good way to do it.
Map 7 Appalachian Trail in WV and NOVA
Hiking Virginia (Falcon Guide) p. 318