Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, Feb 15 2004 - Difficult Day Hike in Harpers Ferry, WV (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Brian Loughery
Participants:Brian Loughery, Donna McLaren, Aaron Firoved, Rebecca Firoved, Laura Hustead, Ronit Fix, Gerald Storseth, Rob Copeland, Colin Babb, Carla Heck, Shuli Chiu, KC Yi, Jason Taylor, David Raines, Laura Loughery, michael loverde

Write Up:
Seventeen intrepid MOCers gathered at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on a chilly Sunday morning. As we huddled inside the visitor's center, waiting for the last of our group to arrive, the park rangers told us a couple of stories about the trail we were going to hike--the Maryland Heights Overlook. The trail conditions were a bit icy, they said, with some visitors slipping and falling just a couple of days before. But that didn't deter us. After gathering the last of our group, we boarded the shuttle bus and headed a few miles down the road to the historic section of Harpers Ferry.

We kept up a brisk pace as we crossed the railroad bridge spanning the Potomac River and headed back into Maryland. After a half-mile of easy (though sometimes muddy) going along the C & O Canal towpath, we reached the trailhead of the Maryland Heights. We began our ascent along a road originally constructed by Union troops during the Civil War. The heights tower some 1400+ feet above the town of Harpers Ferry, so it wasn't long before we were getting quite a workout! Layers of fleece that kept us so warm before the hike were quickly stuffed into backpacks as we slowly worked our way up the mountain.

In addition to the elevation gain, we were faced with a trail that was coated in ice and snow in most places. We decided against following the road all the way to the top, since it goes very steeply up the backside of the mountain and was covered in ice. Instead, we headed the other way and ascended via a less steep path on the front side of the mountain. Because this side received more sunlight, the ice was replaced by snow, which was much easier to navigate through. After ascending past some old gun emplacements, we finally made our way to the top of Maryland Heights and enjoyed lunch in the ruins of the old stone fort.

After lunch, we began our descent back down the mountain. Before departing, we detoured to the highlight of our trip--the overlook cliff. Harpers Ferry was spread out below us. The vista provided great photo ops, as well as some time for relaxing before continuing our trek. After some of us admired old Civil War graffiti carved in the rocks, we made our way down the mountain via a steep, but thankfully ice-free, side trail. Upon returning to the visitor's center, most of us decided to head back to Frederick and enjoy dinner at Brewers Alley. Pizza, burgers, and beer provided a great end to our chilly Sunday.

--Brian Loughery

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