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.
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Reviews For The Maryland Heights Hike (5 Most Recent)
Took off early from work and headed out from the Harpers Ferry train station just before 5pm. Solo hike on an overcast and windy evening. The rain held off luckily but I knew darkness would not so I took the short version of this hike. I went by the Naval Battery and across to the main Harpers Ferry overlook. The colors were not out fully, but this view never fails to impress. The hike up (either to the overlook or all the way to the top) is steep and requires a few breathers if you are not in good shape---I am not! But the payoff is worth being gassed on the uphills. The late hour start time on a Tuesday night meant there were only 7 people that I saw on the whole trail (three on their way down, two at overlook already and two arriving as I left). For the trip down I like to take the steep but short billy goat trail off to your left as you are looking across the rivers. You have to hop over a gaurd rail at the bottom and walk along the road parallel to the train tunnel and then you can climb down and across the C&O canal to get back to the foot bridge across the Potomac and back to Harpers Ferry. Great hike, great workout, great views and the history of Harpers Ferry all make this one of my favorite hikes.
Date of Hike: Sunday, September 21, 2014
Arrived around 10:30 AM, parking was tight but we found a space along Harper's Ferry Rd past both of the larger parking areas - it's on the right near an access point to the canal path. Surprisingly there were not many others on the trail, until we came back down and did the Overlook portion. Had not done this hike before but will return when the leaves are off the trees. Be aware that it really is up, up, up at the beginning, but the trail is otherwise pretty easy going. Nice views, too, and we enjoyed reading the history lessons posted periodically.
8 Feet & 4 Paws
Date of Hike: Sunday, September 07, 2014
We parked across the Potomac in Hapers Ferry and took the walking bridge across to the river trail to get to the trail head. We didn't think it was difficult to find the trail head, but we also had a map to reference. We arrived at a decent time to get a good parking spot in Hapers Ferry. The ascent was a slow steady incline that we were all catching our breath on to reach the Civil War inner/outer walls of the camp (we are in good shape). Was truly surprised by the incline, but once we were at the top the trail evened out and became extremely easy outside of a few rocks that were in the path. The views were pretty around the Civil War ruins and I'm anxious to go back up there in the fall.
Once we left the ruins, we took the path along the ridge and enjoyed the views. We met up with the main path and took it to the overlook of Harpers Ferry. One word - GORGEOUS! It was totally worth taking the longer trail prior to getting to the overlook. None of us wanted to leave. Next time we take our lunch up there and enjoy the views! Return hike back to Harpers Ferry was easy going and quick. One of the best hikes we've taken yet.
Date of Hike: Friday, August 15, 2014
GREAT day hike, great views. It should not be a 3 in difficulty, more like 4
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Caveat: THE PARKING STINKS! Also the trail head is VERY poorly marked from the paved road. Best signage is actually on the wide trail adjacent to the river. There are steps leading up from the river at the trailhead. You may have to plan part of your hike as the distance to parking and/or drop hikers at the trailhead and the driver hike back alone. This impacted the time we had on the mountain and adversely affected us meeting our party. Loved the view. Overall 4 stars.