This a beautiful hike, but don't let the C&O Canal tow path walk lull you into thinking it's going to be easy. Look at the elevation profile and you'll see that after the nice walk on the C&O the remaining 1.5 miles to Weaverton Cliff is a steep climb with multiple switch backs. The payoff is the beautiful view from Weaverton Cliff and walk in Harpers Ferry.
Starting in Harpers Ferry WV you cross the scenic footbridge over the Potomac River and walk along the C&O Canal tow path, get the heart pumping up to Weaverton Cliff, then down and walk back to Harpers Ferry. You'll probably find yourself more tired than you expect as the total distance is just over 9.0 miles.
Another option is to park in Maryland at the Park & Ride off
Weaverton Rd (map point). This cuts out the C&O Canal tow path walk and just does the Weaverton Cliff out/back portion of 2.0 miles.
For this 9.0 mile version, park at the Harpers Ferry Train Station and walk down to the pedestrian footbridge that crosses The Potomac River. Cross the river, descend the footbridge, and start following the the C&O Canal tow path/Appalachian Trail (A.T.) downstream.
After crossing the train tracks there is another parking area just before the A.T. crosses Keep Tryst Rd. The A.T. then starts its ascent and in 0.3 miles passes beneath US340. Israel Creek will be on your left for 0.1 miles at which point you reach the Park and Ride on Weaverton Rd.
Turn right for the short 0.1 mile walk down to Weaverton Cliff. At Weaverton Cliff you have a beautiful 180 degree views of the Potomac River, with the Harpers Ferry area just visible at the very western point.
To return, just retrace your steps.
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Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the CO Canal/Weaverton Cliff hike:
Reviews For The CO Canal/Weaverton Cliff Hike (5 Most Recent)
This is an absolutely wonderful hike! I did the "big three" hikes surrounding Harpers Ferry this week and this would the the one I'd do again without hesitation. I was able to start soon after sunrise and it took just almost exactly 4 hours to complete at a moderate pace, including a nice break at the overlook. I did not see a single other person along the entire trail until right at the very end returning along the canal path. The first (and last) three miles of the hike are completely flat following the C&O canal, but the views along the way of the river & old canal are spectacular. The grade going up the ridge is steep, but the trail is well designed with switchbacks which made the elevation change almost painless. The only part I'd consider steep climbing was a short stretch right at the very top just before the overlook intersection. I would consider this a good introduction to mountain hiking for any flatlander novice. The views of the Potomac from the overlook are incredible and well worth the walk. Easily one of my favorites in the area!
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 09, 2014
I hike a portion of this hike often, but I do the much shorter version. In my view, there is no reason to do the C&O canal portion and make that part of your hike. I just take 340 east and take the Boonsboro exit. I then turn right on Weverton Cliffs road, and park in the commuter parking lot. From this point you are about 1.5 miles from the cliffs on the Appalachian trail. I run on the portion of the C&O canal towpath that is described, but honestly it's totally flat, there's lots of people, and for the most part you can't see the river through the trees.
The portion of this hike that goes from the commuter parking lot up to the cliffs is excellent. The trail changes from dirt to pretty rocky and back to dirt again. The one thing I really love about this area is the tall trees. Almost the entire hike you are under a huge canopy. For the most part this section of the trail is the most difficult, but if you are even in moderate hiking shape, it should be no problem at all. There is a significant increase in elevation right before you hit the top, with the shortest switchbacks I've ever seen.
This hike is VERY popular, (almost more so than the cliffs overlooking Harpers Ferry, because of the beauty of the overlook. When I go, I try to go early (prior to 9AM) because later than that and you come across a lot of people. The overlook is rocky, and it is a southern overlook, so you can see views to the west, east, and south. It's very pretty. One negative is that once on the overlook, you lose the solitude because you can hear 340 pretty clearly. But, all in all, it is a good hike to go on with a nice payoff.
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 07, 2013
This just isn't my type of hiking. The majority of the time is spent on the C&O canal tow path, with the river to your right (or left on the way back). The ascent to Weaverton Cliff is fairly nice, and the view at the top is pretty good, but it's just the one ascent and the one view. I think giving this a 4 for Views is a stretch, and in the end, I wished I had gone out to Shenandoah instead.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Great hike! I started pre-dawn in the Harper's Ferry train station parking lot. I spent a good twenty minutes looking for the foot bridge as this was my first visit to downtown historic Harper's Ferry. From the parking lot go back down the street to find the trail! Enjoyed the hike along the C&O towpath along the Potomac. The tail is good and there is much to see. The hike up to Weverton Cliff was exhilarating, much like climbing a pile of rocks. I spent a half hour enjoying the view and the birdlife. The hike back to the truck was equally enjoyable. Back at the parking lot a park ranger gave me an envelope reminding me there is a $10 parking fee which I gladly paid.
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 01, 2012
Wonderful hike along the river & (eventually) up Weverton Cliff. Suggest you make revisions to your instructions, which now say "In 1.2 miles the tow path passes underneath US 340." (Recommend adding "This is the high bridge with cars on it which crosses the Potomac River.") "Continue for another 1.5 miles where the A.T. will turn left off the tow path and cross an active set of train tracks." (Recommend adding "If you see an old red brick structure on your left, probably the old lock master's building, you have gone too far down the tow path. Return to where you can see train tracks with the first parking area shown on the map close by. After leaving the parking area, if you miss the marker for the A.T.and continue up that road instead, you will come to the very busy US 340. Do not attempt to cross this dangerous highway. Instead look west (towards the cars coming at you) for the small highway bridge US 340 uses to cross Israel Creek, about 80 yards away. Facing the traffic, walk carefully along the side of the highway to that bridge, immediately adjacent to which you'll discover a short trail that leads you back down to the A.T."
Someone had defaced the signs that would have otherwise pointed us properly in the right direction for turning left off the tow path to go across those tracks to the Weverton Cliff trail. So we ended up walking another 1 - 1 1/2 miles further east on the tow path, after someone had told us "the parking lot" was that direction! It's Weverton, BTW, not Weaverton Cliff.