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C&O Canal/Weaverton Cliff - Harpers Ferry, WV

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.0 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,600 ft
Harpers Ferry National Park Service
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Parking is available at the Harpers Ferry Train Station for a fee. Complete the NPS envelope/form, and deposit the envelope with the fee in the steel tube at the parking entrance. You'll need to get here early to get on of the limited spots. 39.32419, -77.73096

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.

In 1.2 miles the tow path passes underneath US340. Continue for another 1.6 miles where the A.T. will turn left off the tow path and cross an active set of train tracks.

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.

Cross Weaverton Rd. The A.T. now steeply climbs with multiple switchbacks before arriving at the ridge and blue blazed Weaverton Cliff Trail.

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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Ratings For The CO Canal/Weaverton Cliff Hike (5 Most Recent)
Rate the CO Canal/Weaverton Cliff hike   Average Rating:

By: Martin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 9, 2019
I thought an unseasonably cold November day would give me a chance to park at the parking lot described in the description. No such luck. What the description doesn't say is that there is no alternative parking anywhere near that location. You'll need a Plan B in case the parking lot is packed.

By: Rick T Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 6, 2017
The mountain part of this hike is great - the view is fantastic - but the long section along the C&O Canal gets old if:

a.) you're local, and see both it and Harpers Ferry all the time, or
b.) you don't think of long, flat, smooth walking as "hiking".

On the other hand, if you were to skip the long section from Harpers Ferry up to the mountain trail (nearly 3 miles each way), you'd be left with a good (but too short for many) hike. So, although I'm rating this 4 stars, it would be more accurate to give it 4 stars for the short version and 3 for the longer one.

Other notes: It's a great one to take dogs on. We took our two German Shepherds with us for the entire 11 miles (our hike was longer since we had to park far from the train station in Harpers Ferry) and they loved it - plus we saw a LOT of other dog-owners on the trail that day.

By: Bret L Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 9, 2017
Although not a challenging hike it is a repreive from the crowds of Maryland Heights. There was a lot of traffic on the canal for the first mile, typical for a weekend, but thinned quickly near the 340 bridge. The view from the cliffs is worth the hike, not crowded for weekend with many soaring birds riding thermals. Overall a good alternative to the crowded Maryland Heights and easier hike when you want to an easy day

By: Brad K Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 14, 2016
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!

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 9, 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.

    View all 10 reviews for the CO Canal/Weaverton Cliff hike
Mid June

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