Maryland Heights is another of those must-do circuits for most hikers in the metro area. With a spectacular view of Harpers Ferry from the main overlook, and steeped in Civil War history, this shorter circuit is a favorite for many. But be prepared for the crowds, on nicer days this hike is very busy.
The main ridge at Maryland Heights has the ruins of Union Civil War forts, trenches, gunpowder magazines, and infantry encampments. With most of the circuit having informational signage describing the different ruins.
From the parking area start up the Combined Trail and pass the Naval Battery built in 1862, and first of the Union fortifications on Maryland Heights. At the next intersection, and informational sign, turn left uphill on the Stone Fort Trail as it very steeply ascends towards the ridge.
Once arriving at the ridge pass through the main fort area, then climb a set of log stairs to reach the main interior of the fort. This main section, and largest earthwork, was constructed in June of 1863. The main stone wall on the north of the fort was erected to protect it from northern attack.
From here the Stone Fort Trail will pass back to the south, with views of the Potomac River to the east through the trees. The trail will descend more steeply before ending at the intersection of the top section of the Combined Trail.
Turn left towards the overlook and in 150 yards turn right down the Overlook Trail. The main overlook for Harpers Ferry is in 0.3 miles.
Return to the Combined Trail, then follow it past the two trailheads for the Stone Fort Trail as it descends back down to Sandyhook Rd.
Interactive Hike Map BelowPrintable
Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left Mouse Over the icons in the map below for location shots
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Maryland Heights hike:
Reviews For The Maryland Heights Hike (5 Most Recent)
Weekday, on the cool side, perfect. The lot had about 5 cars when we pulled in around 10:30. We did the combined trail to stone fort trail to overlook trail, then back, as suggested (total time: 3 hours almost to the minute). I'm used to long walks, but usually on level ground, so the steep ascent to the fort gave me a good workout. The signs were good for brief breaks and a bit of a history lesson. Nice views from the various overlooks. We didn't meet anyone on the stone fort trail, but there were a bunch of people on the combined/overlook trails.
FWIW I think the hike to the fort may be a bit much for anyone who is really out of shape or has health issues. For someone who isn't sure, maybe do the route in reverse as someone else posted she likes to do: overlook first, then stone fort (if overlook is no problem). If I go back, I want to try it that way to see which I like better.
Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 02, 2013
This is one of my favorite quick hikes in this area. The trails are well maintained, and there are a lot of plaques and civil war history stuff if you're into that. The uphill can be challenging, and the stone fort trail along the ridge is a great place for a trail run. The views are great, but it can get crowded when the weather is nice.
Date of Hike: Friday, March 29, 2013
If you want a postcard picture of Harper's Ferry you gotta do this hike. We hiked today, March 29th 2013, and it was beautiful. We started up at 0800 and did not see anyone until we were descending around noon. I suggest doing this hike in the cooler weather to avoid the crowds. The views were awesome and the trails are in great shape!!!!!!
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 15, 2012
Started at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy HQ on Washington street, so we added about 1.5 miles to this hike overall. Walking down the AP to the historic part of HF. A great day in December, brought out some hikers, but, the only place the trail was crowded was at the Harpers Ferry overlook. The overlook alone is enough of a reason to do this hike!
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 09, 2012
I arrived at 10AM, parked at Harpers Ferry and started my hike. I ended up doing the entire trail twice with my mid point being the overlook. I have hiked many places in my life but this one was special. The weather was rainy and very misty at the top so there were very few others out. The trail and area are packed with history, I saw several deer as I walked and it was just an absolutely pleasant day. I ended up leaving at just past 4 PM tired but very satisfied!