The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) runs through historic Harpers Ferry, where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet in what Thomas Jefferson described as “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.” Start or end an A.T. day hike here, and be back in time for supper and a soak at a quaint B&B.
When to Go: June-August; June 22 for an all-day event, The Birth of a State: 150th Anniversary of the State of West Virginia
Where to Stay: Four-room Laurel Lodge is a restored, Craftsman-style stone bungalow a block away from the A.T. Visitor Center and less than a mile from the Amtrak station (daily train service to and from Washington, D.C.). The Cedar View Room has rocking chair views of the Potomac River gorge.
How to Get Around: Start at the A.T. Visitor Center to plan your hike and purchase trail maps. The moderate Camp Hill-Virginius Island-Hall’s Island loop blends scenic views and historical wayside exhibits in a two- to three-mile route. Start at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Visitor Center and climb the 62 stone steps up to see the river valley from Jefferson’s vantage point—Jefferson Rock.
Where to Eat or Drink: The Canal House Café’s locally fresh fare (salmon cakes, country ham sandwiches) changes daily, but ice cream from a nearby creamery is always in season. Casual, comfortable vibe in the cozy, 1820s stone dining room. Live folk and bluegrass music most weekends; BYOB.
What to Read Before You Go: Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, by Tony Horwitz (2011)
Helpful links: Jefferson County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
Fun Fact: Only about four miles of the A.T. pass solely through West Virginia(other portions straddle the West Virginia-Virginia border) in and around Harpers Ferry, but this small section ranks high among thru-hikers who consider the A.T. Visitor Center here the “psychological mid-point” on the 2,184-mile trail.