All about Hoofbeats & Footprints

Appalachian Trail Across Maryland Series #1 – Harpers Ferry to Weverton Cliff 10.3 Miles/Moderate

This is one of a series of 9 hikes that one of our most illustrious members, Dan McQueen, created. Together, these nine hikes traverse the entire Appalachian Trail in the state of Maryland. Led on a very chilly early January day by Reuben Dagold, this out-and-back hike travels north along the C & O Canal from Harpers Ferry, with the lunch spot overlooking the Potomac at Weverton Cliff. The terrain includes two steep and partially rocky hills, with the remainder being primarily flat. Total elevation gain is 550′ with the longest climb of 550′ over 1.3 miles.

Harpers Ferry is a charming historic village where the states of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet along the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. With its roots from the American Civil War, in current day the small community is primarily a tourist destination, especially during the summer months. There are tons of activities available at Harpers Ferry including water sports such as white water rafting, tubing, kayaking, and canoeing. Along the towpath you can hike, bike, walk or run along the Potomac. There are charming shops, a few restaurants, and ice cream shops open in the warmer months. There are also zip lines in the area, and horseback riding tours available. Please see links below.

DIRECTIONS TO HIKE SITE:  Take I-70 West toward Frederick, Maryland. Continue past Frederick for about 1 mile and take Exit #52 onto U.S. Route 340 (Charles Town and Leesburg Exit) and head south/west on US 340 to Harpers Ferry (22 miles.) Cross the Potomac River, then the Shenandoah River. Immediately following the bridge, turn right and you will see a small parking lot to your right. There is a $6.00 parking fee if you are not a Senior life-time NPS card holder. You will find the Appalachian Trail marker uphill from the parking lot.

Harpers Ferry National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/hafe/index.htm

Address:171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, WV  25425

HIKE DESCRIPTION:  This hike begins at small parking lot within the Harpers Ferry National Park, and immediately goes up a rocky hill to Jefferson Rock that provides an overlook of Harpers Ferry. Then the trail descends into Harpers Ferry (with real public bathrooms). Head north crossing the Byron Memorial Footbridge and veer right for the C & O Canal tow path along the Potomac River heading north. Continue until the path goes under a bridge and begin looking for mile marker #58, and turn left. The trail continues across Keep Tryst Road, and goes under US 340 and then crosses Weverton Road before it begins to travel up South Mountain on switchbacks leading you to Weverton Cliffs.

COOKIES FOR THE HIKE: Chocolate Nutella Cookies      http://www.ourbestbites.com/2011/08/chocolate-nutella-cookies/

COMMENTARY: The winter so far in Maryland can best be described as being bi-polar. We’ve had beautiful warm sunny days, and all of a sudden a blast from Canada will blow through here, reminding us that Old Man Winter is still here. Wednesday was a frigid day, with a high of 32 degrees. Harpers Ferry is a fantastic place for photography, historical exploration, and adventure sports.

As I am gearing up for the Inca Trail, I’ve been looking for very light weight and warm gear for the trek. Properly bundled up with my new packable down jacket that I had gotten at the Eddie Bauer Outlet (http://www.eddiebauer.com/catalog/product.jsp?ensembleId=37561) and my yummy fuzzy and warm Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft fleece http://polartec.com/warmth/polartec-thermal-pro-high-loft/ found with Patagonia which I had managed to find on sale, http://www.rei.com/product/815770/patagonia-r3-hi-loft-hoodie-jacket-womens the cold was no threat to me.

Starting on the trail went beautifully, I managed to kick up the first hill just fine, using some new hiking techniques that I’ve learned. Had a lovely view at Jefferson Rock, then while I was mesmerized by the church steeple in Harpers Ferry, I wasn’t looking where I was stepping. Going down a stone step, my right foot landed on ice, and quickly slid out from underneath me causing my left knee to slam into the rock and twist my left ankle. After a few minutes of mind-blinding pain, it went away. (Thanks Jim Floyd for staying with me and helping me up.)

I coached myself through it – if I was on the Inca Trail, then I’d have to hike myself out, and there was no way I wasn’t going to hike that day. So I continued on, and loaded 10 miles on my injured leg. Throughout the hike, all felt well until the last remaining down hill steps and I started to feel my knee.

Well, true to form, I have blown out my left knee and my Inca Trail Training has been completely derailed. I did get it checked, and luckily no apparent meniscus tears within the knee. Just trauma to the muscles, tendons and ligaments leading up to the knee. Part of the saving grace for me was that I was wearing my CW-X Stabliyx running tights , and neoprene support sleeves on my ankles. These supports prevented my joints from really breaking out and causing more damage. http://cw-x.com/ExploreProducts.aspx?gender=womens&product=tights&by=collection&sub=stabilyx&id=1562 Doc says that it’ll take 3-4 weeks for my knee to be back to normal, I was planning on a week. Well, let’s hope for the best.

TRAIL MAPS:

http://mapshare.delorme.com/Consumer/V.aspx?p=5t6rydln

http://www.nps.gov/hafe/planyourvisit/upload/parkwidemap%2008.pdf

HARPERS FERRY LINKS FOR FUN:

Horseback Riding: http://elkmountaintrails.com/

Zip Lines & Water Sports:  http://www.riverriders.com/

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