Following the Appalachian Trail north from Keys Gap this hike features the beautiful Loudoun Heights overlook of Harpers Ferry and Potomac River. There is also a nice vista from a utility clear-cut with Virginia to the east and West Virginia to the west. For those making this a backpack, there are two good campsites between the clear-cut and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The one downside to this ridge walk is the extremely rocky section of Appalachian Trail just south of Harpers Ferry National Park.
Mile 0.4 - The trail splits with an old section of the A.T. going left. Stay right on the white blazed A.T. descending and traversing the eastern side of the ridge. Pass 3 campsites on the right side of the trail from this point to the utility clear-cut. These campsites should not be used, as there is no camping allowed between the parking area at Keys Gap and the utility clear-cut at mile 1.4.
Mile 4.0 - At the intersection the white blazed A.T. turns left/west downhill towards the ATC Visitors Center. Stay straight remaining on the ridge following the now blue blazed Loudoun Heights Trail. This section of the hike is the most popular and can be very busy on nice weekends. In 0.5 miles the trail will arrive at the intersection of the orange blazed cutoff trail.
Mile 4.5 - Pass the orange blazed trail on the left and continue descending the blue blazed trail.
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 Loudoun Heights hike:
Reviews For The Loudoun Heights Hike (5 Most Recent)
I'd give it three stars but the Loudon Heights Overlook bumps it up to four. The best overlook I've seen on any hike in this area, and the only one I wanted to stay at for an extended time. As the description notes, the hike is rocky along most of its length. It's not much worse than the rockiest hikes I've encountered in George Washington National Forest (Signal Knob, Three Top Mountain). I did fine wearing trail runners. I had two hiking poles in my backpack in case it got too tough but didn't use them. Definitely the rockiest stretch of the Appalachian Trail I've run into in hiking 50 miles or so of pieces of it. In a couple very rocky patches I lost the trail and trail blazes but following the rocks shortly brought be back to the trail. About 20 other hikers on the AT, one other on the blue-blazed portion down to the overlook. Seemed busy for a weekday but didn't feel crowded. It was quite muddy for parts of the first mile, like 2-3 inches deep, but I was able to walk around the worst parts. A longer hike but the relatively low elevation change made it a bit easier than I expected. No streams or springs so bring enough water. This parking area is shared with the Keys Gap/Buzzard Rocks hike going south (which I also recommend). If you look at the reviews of that hike a couple note some odd characters hanging out in the parking area. There is a notice posted at the trail head to stow your belongings and lock your car. A panhandler at the trailhead asked me for spare change. I didn't feel unsafe but it's odd because I don't see such activity at any other trailhead. Please be alert.