By Sharon Jones, Girls Who Hike West Virginia Ambassador
The entrance to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is in West Virginia. But, the park itself includes land in the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia. There are over 20 miles of hiking trails in Harpers Ferry that offer great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.
According to the National Park Service website, Harpers Ferry “is considered one of the best walking parks in America.” The NPS website also states that the mid-point of the Appalachian Trail runs through Harpers Ferry. Other sources, however, refer to this area as the “psychological” mid-point of the trail since halfway along the 2,178 mile trail technically puts one in Pennsylvania.
The trails in Harpers Ferry range from easy to strenuous. There is a trail for every skill level of hiker. https://www.nps.gov/hafe/planyourvisit/hikes.htm
A visit to Harpers Ferry isn’t just about hiking though. The town is rich with history. During the Civil War Harpers Ferry changed hands between the Confederate and Union troops eight times. After the war, abandoned U.S. Armory buildings in the town were used as the home to Storer College, one of the first integrated schools in the United States.
Before the Civil War Harpers Ferry was a booming industrial center. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and the Winchester & Potomac Raillroad all converged in this location. This helped create an environment ripe for economic and industrial growth.
Today, visitors can tour the industrial ruins and historical landmarks located in the park.