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Hiker Reviews for the Harpers Ferry/Loudoun Heights Hike - 1 to 22 of 22   
Review the Harpers Ferry/Loudoun Heights hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 26, 2018
Nice, long hike. Lots of shade. Gnats/bugs were pretty bad, but wildlife amazing! Saw lots of groups of deer up close. Trail gets long near the end, but immensely worth the final mile. Didn't see many people despite it being packed in Harpers Ferry-I think most people hike the Maryland Heights trail. Very peaceful at the top-worth hauling lunch/picnic and taking a nap before heading back.

By: Mark Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 19, 2017
Great hike. The good workout makes you appreciate the view at the overlook. The uphill section on the AT from the highway 340 bridge will make you sweat, but once you reach the blue-blazed trail that runs along the ridge line to the overlook, it's easy. With the full foliage of summer there are only a few clear views until the overlook, but the trail is nice. On a summer Saturday I only encountered about a dozen people once I left the bridge, so, while it's not solitary, it's certainly not as congested as Maryland Heights. I had the overlook to myself. I think that the view from Maryland Heights is better, but the different perspective that Loudoun offers is pretty cool. If you want to skip the walk through town, be assured of parking, and save the fee at the railroad station parking, park at the Visitors Center. Take the free five minute shuttle bus ride to the stop just outside of town, and start your hike from there.

By: SC Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 09, 2017
I will be honest -- this was not my favorite hike. The outlook was neat, but by the time I got there, the bugs had been terrible and I had seen so few people I managed to spook myself a bit (I love solo hiking for the record, but in this case I saw only 3 people over the course of several hours so this might be a ringing recommendation for some) and I thought that the view from MD Heights was slightly better (I realize this might be an unpopular opinion). I'm not sure if it was just an off day for me or if this hike just isn't for me but I didn't love it, but it still was a nice solid workout and it is very quiet.

By: Rachel Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 20, 2017
Planning to go on a weekend? Get there early! I started at 6:45am and when I came back to my car at 10:30, the parking lot was full. The fee for parking is $10 at the train station--I didn't see anywhere to pay when I left may car, but when I came back, there was a ticket on my windshield (you can mail it if you forget cash the day of your hike).

I found that the section between the bridge and the Loudoun Heights trail was definitely the most strenuous, but manageable. I made it to the overlook at 8:30...so it took me an hour and 45 minutes to get there. Nobody else was there which was nice, and I got to take my time eating breakfast and enjoying the view. On the way back, I saw more groups of hikers making their way up to see the overlook, so I felt pretty good about my decision to get started early. What I don't like about the hike is that there is so much traffic noise from 340--I know it can't be helped, but I prefer getting out into nature to get away from that.

By: Brad K Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Based on the other reviews and considering I hiked midweek in late fall, I expected to find complete solitude on this trail. To my surprise, I saw quite a few groups all along the trail -- not crowded by any stretch, but not isolated either. The first portion along the AT through Harpers Ferry is well traveled, but quite fun & historic. I thought crossing along the highway bridge was a nice change of pace from the usual, though hardly considered hiking. The climb up and down the ridge had enough switchbacks to make the elevation manageable, although I was suffering the effects of hiking Weverton Cliffs & Maryland Heights the day before & moving at a quite slower than normal pace. It took me 5.25 hours to complete this hike with a brief stop at the overlook and some time chatting with a couple about other AT day hikes. The blue trail along the ridge was much more pleasant than the orange trail that spends a good portion following a power line clearcut. The return back into town allows for an easy side path through the old Storer College campus and to the ATC headquarters. This is another "don't miss" hike and well worth the effort.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 03, 2016
Very nice hike with a decent amount of hills. Can hike easily in sneakers as there are no rock scrambles. A couple of points:

1 - You need to pay to park at the train station. There is a box for the cash (I think $5 or so) and you leave a receipt on your windshield. Otherwise, you will get a $10 ticket :-)
2 - I found the timing slightly off. My group wasn't terribly slow, but it took us 4:45 for the hike.
3 - Lots of restaurants to enjoy after, but note this is a touristy area, so nothing high end and expect long waits everywhere.

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 16, 2016
I hiked this hike Saturday with a hiking group from the Meetup app. I have hiked this before, and this is not a standard 3 when you compare it to the other two harpers ferry hikes. In order of difficulty they are 1. Maryland heights lower-(easiest) 2. Maryland heights-upper ( harder), and Loudoun Heights (hardest) There is a lot of "up" on this hike. It will wear you out. Keep that in mind when you get to the overlook, because there is a lot of up on the way back before the descent. I stayed at the overlook a little too long, and, heated up in the 95 degree heat, cramped. This made for a fun time on the way back. That said, the overlook is fantastic and well worth the trip. Make sure in this heat you bring lots of water and bananas, and you'll be fine. You might want to hike Maryland heights first just to see if you are up for it.

By: Dwhitten Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 10, 2016
We parked at the secondary parking area and paid the $10 fee. The initial 1.5 mile climb up the AT is a tad steep but I was carrying my 16 month old and it wasn't bad. We turned left on the blue trail and the first two overlooks don't have much of a view so make sure you make it to the last overlook. You have a great view of Harpers Ferry and any trains crossing the bridge. There were also numerous people floating on the river. The 6.3 mile circuit took 2 hr 20 mins walking time so it is a 3 hr hike if you spend a little time at the overlook. Overall great hike and would do again!

By: Barnestein Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 13, 2016
I was really glad I did this hike, enough incline to keep you busy, whilst still being a pretty casual hike.  The hike us dog friendly , just need to bring some water for your dog as streams are not quite enough on there own.  

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 29, 2016
I've hiked Springer and Katahdin, now Harpers Ferry. Just need everything north and south. Great hike in late May. Ferns were poppin, mountain laurel flowering, good weather and reverse trail magic. What I mean is that on the descent my knee was acting up something awful, I was using a limb collected on the trail as a hiking pole. About a mile from the end I noticed someone moving briskly behind me, not soon after my limb broke in half. The young woman didn't hesitate and asked if I wanted to borrow one of her worn but functional hiking poles. The pain in my knee trumped my pride, so I accepted. My wife, daughter, Muns and I finished the days hike together. Of course Muns had over a thousand miles to go yet. Muns provided me, a day hiker, with trail magic, hope she finds some on her way north.

By: Chris C. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 18, 2016
The view from Loudoun Heights made me feel like a kid looking down at a really great train display.  You look down on the little town of Harpers Ferry with the two rivers joining and then you hear the sound of a train coming round the bend.  It goes through the town, across the bridge over the river, and then into a tunnel.  The train emerges from the tunnel just as another train comes from the other direction.  It really is great.

I started the hike from the parking lot under the 340 Shenendoah River bridge.  I am not a big fan of hiking through town.  This way the hike is about 6.3 miles and took me about 3:20 with a long stop at the overlook.  The trail is well maintained and easy to follow.

One note: If you park under the bridge as I did, there is a $10 parking fee.  It's not well marked that you need to do this. Look for the brown box with envelopes and the deposit slot.  I saw a car with a ticket on it when I came back, so the park rangers do check the lot.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 15, 2015
This is an awesome hike! The directions on Hiking Upward are terrific you will not get lost. The views from the trail overlooking Harper's Ferry and Loudon Heights are wonderful. The trail is well maintained. The leaves had completely disappeared from the trees, but overall the trail wasn't slippery. I didn't find the trail overly strenuous, and neither did my friend, who's unaccustomed to long hikes. I would definitely repeat this hike.

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 05, 2015
I hiked this hike this morning, expecting to see a lot of labor day hikers on it. I was suprised though, that on the way there I only passed by four people, and at the actual overlook, there was only one person.

A couple of things to note. At times this trail is very steep.HU says nearly 1900 feet in 8 miles but in reality the elevation is insignificant until you cross under the 340 bridge. It's really 1900 feet in 6 miles. It is very steep at times, especially right after the river crossing and at times after you cross the road.

This is the most difficult of the Harpers Ferry hikes. If you can hike all the way to the top of Maryland heights, and you aren't completely spent, then this hike is a good one to try. The hikes in the area go in this order of difficulty: Lower Maryland heights trail, Upper Maryland heights trail, and then Loudoun heights.

I turned left at the second orange blaze crossing. It is not overgrown there.

The overlook is wonderful once you get there. Don't be fooled into thinking the earlier overlooks are the main one.

I saw my 8th bear while hiking today. He was only 300-500 yards from the overlook.

I completed this hike in around 3 hours.

By: Laurie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2015
We decided to check out this hike on a trip to Harpers Ferry. We arrived in town on a Saturday, around 11:30, and there was absolutely no where to park! The lots we could find were all full - it was a Saturday after all. We had the option of taking a shuttle down from a further away lot (not sure if we would have been required to pay) but we opted for finding a spot in the more residential side of town that was free. There was lots of free parking if you don't mind a walk down from town, just make sure you're not in a permit zone. We walked to the bridge over the Shenandoah via Union St, but on the way back we used the white blaze trail behind the AT Conservancy building. Once we finally got on the trail it was about 12:15, and the first mile is STEEP. Not for the faint of heart! But the trail is beautiful and well worth the climb. We didn't go on the orange trail at all, after reading reviews of it. We stuck to white & blue blazes up and back. We took a half hour for lunch at the top and still made it to the end of the bridge by 3:30 or so. Under the bridge near the parking lot that we didn't park in, there are many access points to the river, which makes for a nice cool-off after a hot hike. Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 20, 2014
A pretty solid hike with a great payoff at the end.  The hike through the AT section of the town itself is nice, you get great views of the river from the bridge, and the uphill after the bridge will get your cardio going.   There are 3 total scenic views (one I think is not marked on the map, but easily noticeable as a short trail heading left off the blue path as you head towards Loudon Heights peak), and the end one is stellar, with a beautiful picturesque view Harper's Ferry and the river.  As I took pictures and sent them to friends, I got accused of taking pictures of postcards, if that's any indication of how gorgeous the view is.  We got to do some "birding" at the overlook, with plenty of turkey vultures to watch.  We took our time on the overlook and actually spotted an eagle!  

Only minor issues with this hike are the blue and orange trails themselves.  Blue trail is not that well maintained so you'd do well with long pants and bug spray, as you'll encounter plenty of brush.  The orange trail on the way back was my least favorite section of the hike, and I agree with the reviewer below who suggests staying on the blue trail to get back.   If/when I do this again, I'll probably forgo the $10 parking at the Amtrak station and park at the free lot by the bridge instead, then do the in-town portion of the AT at the end of the hike. 

One thing to add to the directions here - the intersection of the AT with the blue trail was a T intersection.  You'll come to a wooden sign pointed right for a landmark further down the AT (can't remember the name....started with a G?).  If you look to your left at this sign, you'll see a blue blaze a good ways down the trail, though it's faint so not tremendously easy to spot.  If I hadn't decided to look left, I probably would have just kept going southwest down the AT and not realized it until I glanced at my compass. 

By: Andy D. Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Best hike in the Harper's Ferry area in my opinion. I even like this one better than Maryland Heights across the river, although that's a very worthwhile hike as well. I like Loudoun Heights better for two reasons. One is there is very little crowds. I had the Overlook at the end practically all to myself and passed just two people on the whole hike. Maryland Heights on the other hand receives large crowds. Loudoun Heights is a much less known overlook. The second reason Loudoun Heights is better is that the view at the end is much more panoramic in my opinion than Maryland Heights. It's the best view hands down of Harper's Ferry. Yes, Maryland Heights offers a close in your face view of the town. But, Loudoun Heights offers a more distant view and a more panoramic view of the topography that surrounds it. I also feel while this hike is still strenuous, I feel the hike up to Maryland Heights is steeper.

A note about the hike itself. If you don't want to hike 8.5 miles and want closer to a 6-6.5 mile hike, start at the parking area under the 340 Bridge rather than the Train station in town. Also, the trail down to 340/Potomac Wayside area from the Overlook has been closed, so don't even attempt it. The only way you can reach it is from "behind" from the 340 Shenandoah Bridge. I'd imagine that trail is steeper anyhow. This hike is pretty much easy once you obtain the Ridgeline about a mile and a half from the Shenandoah Bridge. Also, I had no trouble on the Orange trail option. It comes back to a lower point in A.T. I would take it on the way back as it descends very steeply intially from the Overlook side, so better to go down it then have to come up. On the way there, take the A.T. to the Blue Trail on the Ridgeline as the hike description suggests.

By: WorkToTravel Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Stellar hike. Enjoyed the mixture of historic landmarks and natural terrain. For seasonal hikers, this is a trail with enough elevation change to condition you for more difficult hikes later in hiking season. A few important notes. You can make the trail longer by making it an out-and back and following the AT and Loudoun Trail (white and blue blazes). it is worth considering since the orange trail is much less scenic and more exposed. If following the regular route, pay attention to mileage. The orange blazes are not obvious. We saw all sorts of neat things, including toads, turtles, wild flowers, and mushrooms. In addition, it's great to walk across the Potomac...twice. Make sure you wear bug spray. The brush is thick. Enjoy!!!!

By: hikinghag Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 21, 2013
Correction on my review below: The route we walked along was 340 and not 302.

We hiked the same route as "chicobiker" ironically around the same time only we parked at the Potomac Wayside which is basically a small parking area for people to launch boats or go down to the river and see the Potomac Wayside waterfall (?) there. There's exactly room for only 3 cars! But because it was a Monday and before 8:00am, we were the only car there. Crossed 302 to the gas station and walked along 302 till we found (not w/o a great deal of difficulty as chicobiker wrote) the alleged beginning of the old Loudoun Heights Trail. Extremely faint ancient blue blazes on some trees. Indeed very overgrown w/loads of blowdowns. Only about 1/4 ml. of this though till we, too, ran into the barking, very frightening dogs who we were pretty sure were fenced. Still they looked like they could have jumped it. Just cast our eyes downward, walked slow but steady (as if retreating from a bear) and continued on to the right, climbing up to where the old trail had truly begun and those faint blue blazes were a bit clearer. Like chicobiker, we didn't realize this was closed until we reached the Loudoun Heights Overlook. Misleading up till then because trail looked traveled and w/several engraved, wooden signs warning to stay on the trail due to possible erosion. Again, how were we to know this trail was "officially" closed? Remainder of hike was very pleasant, historically interesting and quite scenic w/several crossings of the Potomac. In retrospect, probably wouldn't have chanced it had we known about trail closure. But ignorance was bliss in this case because it DID enable us to do a full loop! If you do this as a loop, be aware you could be stopped (not likely) but if so, you could always plead ignorance. Just watch out for those dogs!

By: Chicobiker Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 14, 2013
The lower part of Loudoun Heights trail is no longer open. I did not realize this and was trying to find the bottom from the road near the gas station. It was impossible to find. No signs, no blue blazes. Eventually, I just guessed that the old roadbed was the trail and tried it. I got to the edge of the private property where big dogs came and ran at me, and thankfully stopped. Then I found the old trail signs, but the trail is clearly abandoned up until you reach the split rock lookout. That's the first place I saw a sign that the trail was closed. I had no idea. From there up the ridge, the hike was great, and the trail was well maintained. I completed the big loop by hiking into Harper's Ferry, then across the footbridge to the C&O canal footpath. I had parked my car below the trailhead for the Maryland Heights trail. The cars along US 340 honked at me several times, they didn't seem to want me there. Be very careful if you're going to hike there, but there is really no reason to anymore. You shouldn't try this loop because of the trail closure. You can do the Loudoun Heights trail as an in-and-out from the US340 bridge parking lot near Harper's Ferry.

By: Moderate hike with cool views! Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 25, 2013
We arrived at the parking lot at the train station at about 10am on a Sunday.  It was pretty full but we didn't have trouble getting a spot.  We decided to park at the lot in town (instead of the parking lot next to the river/highway) because we wanted to see some historic sights, which were worth it the town of Harpers Ferry is kind of fake, but still cute and fun to see.  The extra mile from the train station parking lot to the river/highway parking lot is pretty hilly, but it's not a bad way to start the hike.  On the way back, you can walk back along the tow path by river  instead (you'll pass this when you drive to the train station parking lot) that part is flat and easy, which is nice at the end of the hike.

We only passed around 10-12 groups of people on the whole hike, which was a nice change from some of the overcrowded hikes in the DMV area.  I haven't done the other hikes near Harpers Ferry, but we loved this hike and the awesome view at the end of Harpers Ferry and both rivers.  We enjoyed eating our lunch there and watching tubers, rafters, and kayakers float down the river. 

This hike was pretty moderate for a 9 mile hike.  There were some steep hills at times, but we felt like we could've gone several more miles at the end of it.  It's not nearly as hard as hikes like Old Rag, but it's hard enough that you get a really good work out.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 07, 2013
I used to do this hike regularly years ago. There is actually a loop that you can do (Loudoun Heights Loop) so that you don't have to backtrack at all. I park in Sandy Hook under the 340(Potomac)bridge. You climb the embankment under the bridge and walk across the bridge on the pedestrian sidewalk (use the one on the left, against Eastbound traffic). Once across the river into Virginia you have to walk along 340 for about 1/4 mile close to the road (be careful!). On your left you'll see that the steep hill is gradually coming level with the road. When it does, you'll see the trail head which used to be marked. The sign was down on 7/7/13. The first 200 meters look like they were hit by the derecho last year. Lots of blow-downs. It's still pretty easy going. I didn't see many blue blazes up to the first (and best) overlook but the trail is maintained and you can see the obvious efforts of PATC or whoever (thanks guys!) When you get up to the overlook, then you'll start seeing blazes more frequently. From there continue following the blue blazes (or take the gold if you wish) the blue trail will lead you to a sign at the intersection with the AT. Follow the AT North to Harper's Ferry. After HF, follow the AT over the railroad trestle and along the tow-path. When you see the bridge, look for a good place to cross the canal back to Sandy Hook there are several. Mind the trains, you need to cross an active rail line (two tracks).
Loudoun Heights Loop
PROS
: No backtracking, you'll hike in 3 states (MD,VA,WV) you cross two rivers (Potomac & Shenandoah), good overlooks, perfect distance for a short day hike (7 miles), You reach Harper's Ferry (if you go the direction as described) at about the 5.5 mile mark- just when you need a beer or ice cream.
CONS: The 1/4 stretch along 340 is loud and a little scary. Stay as far off of the road as you can

By: Athryn Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Great hike on a hot day! I have done the Maryland Heights trail before, so I wanted to see the other side. I was lucky enough to get a space at the train station, and the whole day was very warm, but pleasant since it was mostly in the shade.

On the way back over 340 I encountered a large group of hikers, so instead of taking the AT back, I took the footpath down the side of Shenandoah Street, so this is an option if you want to see some different things on the way back through Harpers Ferry.

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