Bucket List Item #2: Hike at Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park

what I wore at Harper's Ferry

The hike at Harper’s Ferry was the second bucket list item I tackled, even though it’s an hour away, because I knew it would be a great fall activity and H was as excited about it as I was. The weekend we chose to drive there all the leaves were turning, so the scenery was spectacular. H and I were excited about the historical site, since we’re both history nerds, and the hike afterwards.

The Town

town of harper's ferry

As a Virginian and a history buff, I enjoy visiting historical sites, from battlefields to presidential homes to local museums. Harper’s Ferry, the reconstructed historic site of John Brown’s raid and a Civil War battle, was no exception. We strolled through the museum, but spent more time walking through the restored town since H has been there a few times and could explain the raid and battle. I liked that it felt like a Civil War version of Colonial Williamsburg, one of my favorite places. The town was full of other tourists, so H frowned on my tendency to joke loudly about historical “facts” I made up, like saying that the Marines dragged John Brown away by his beard.

The Views

Harper's Ferry confluence

Harper’s Ferry is at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, so there are a few places in the town that are renowned for the beautiful views. We could see the confluence from the pump house in town by the river, but we climbed up a steep path by the church in town to see it from a rock where Thomas Jefferson famously commented that the view was “worth crossing the Atlantic for.” H and I were ready to hike, so when we saw a cluster of people on a steep overlook across the river we decided to take the trail up for a view of the town, the confluence, and the surrounding mountains.

The Hike

overlook at Harper's Ferry

I had planned to hike the Maryland Heights or Loudon Heights trail, which are both six-mile loops, but the trail to the overlook looked like a better choice. We wanted to finish the hike before night fell on the mountain or the shuttle stopped running, so a shorter hike was ideal. The trail to the overlook branched off the Maryland Heights trail for a round-trip three-mile hike. H and I took off at a quick pace up the trail, worried about getting back before dark.

The trail was crowded with other hikers. Plenty of other Harper’s Ferry visitors had the same idea we did, although many looked less prepared to hike than we were, like the families with toddlers in tow and the fashionable girls wearing skirts or suede thigh-high boots. The view of the town and the confluence was worth the climb and the overlook was crowded with other visitors, so we took a few pictures and turned around to hike back. It started raining when we were close to the trailhead, so we were glad we had moved quickly. We still stopped to get ice cream before we got on the shuttle back to the parking lot, though!

What I Wore (not suede thigh-high boots)

what I wore at Harper's Ferry

I planned my outfit carefully, knowing we would be in the car for at least an hour and then hike. I wanted to be comfortable and warm, but also be able to shed layers if I got sweaty on the trail. The outfit I chose, which is also one of my favorite outfits to wear on the flight for an active vacation somewhere chilly, was a tank top, athletic leggings, a patterned, loose-fitting sweater, a trucker jacket, and Bean boots. The sweater and the jacket are both from the men’s section, so they’re extra soft and comfortable and the jacket has functioning pockets. I love this mix of modern athleisure and classic preppy hiking gear.

Have you visited any other historical sites near DC, or anywhere with good hiking? Let me know in the comments!

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