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Maryland Heights - Harpers Ferry, MD


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.3 mls N/A
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3.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,600 ft
Harpers Ferry National Park Service
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Park 100 yards past the trailhead on Sandyhook Rd. If that parking is full, there is additional parking further down the road. 39.32920, -77.73169

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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Hiker Reviews For The Maryland Heights Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Margaret Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 26, 2014
If you like history and hiking, this is a fun one. I got there around 7:30 and was glad I went early - by the time I was descending, there was a steady stream of people heading for the overlook. I did the Stone Fort trail first and then headed to the overlook, but if I went again I'd reverse the order as the overlook trail was already busy by 10:30 or so when I started down there. I poked around a lot and finished the hike in about 4 hours. The scenery and views were beautiful my only gripe is that the trail has a lot of roots and loose rocks, so you have to pay a lot of attention to where you put your feet, and that means you can't look around as much! Still, overall it was really pretty, and neat to read about the fortifications.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 25, 2014
I got here at about 10:00 am and the parking lot was already full at both the spots. I squeezed my car in at a place left empty. The hike starts with the green trail and then splits into the blue and red trail. The red trail is shorter and is rated for about 2 hours. I took the blue one, which is rated at about 3 hours. It is fairly steep going up for the first 0.5 miles. It then steadies up and becomes fairly flat at the top. The views are nice and the trail had very few people. On the way down, it becomes steep at a few places, but no too bad. The trail then merges with the red trail which had a whole bunch of people. There are quiet a few spots and spots where they had placed cannons between 1862-1865, but most of the spots have no or few traces left of the original canons. Once on the red trail and then the green, its a pretty easy pace down. I was able to be back around 11:45am. There were a lot many people going up at that time. Overall an excellent hike, gave me a good workout :) Definitely recommended. I would count this as the old rag of harpers ferry :)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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.

By: Linda Rating: 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.

By: 8 Feet & 4 Paws Rating: 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.


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Early February

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