Mainline Tour: Harpers Ferry

By Giles Kennedy

Chief Editor/Administrator

The Ohio Railroader Website

Chief Editor/Founder

Ohio Valley Rails FB Page

In partnership with Columbus Wired

Many people know the rafting, tubing, and biking around the area.

Not many people know that Harpers Ferry is a living and working village.

With the recent COVID-19 restrictions; all National Park Service attractions, visitors centers and buildings are closed.

Parking lots and hiking trails remain open. (Following the recommendations in Columbus Wired’s article Road to Appalachia, get there early)

The main trail from the Visitors Center off US 340 is the Lower Town Trail.

Lower Town Trail is not for the faint of heart…2.6 miles of challenging trail. It ends in town on Shenandoah Street.

In lieu of NPS facilities,the Corporation of Harpers Ferry (Village) has porta potties available to its visitors. They are located at the end of Potomac Street, down from the Amtrak/MARC train station.

The bonus is all cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants are open with West Virginia safety standards and most have working restrooms for their customers.

The two we visited during our trip were the Coffee Mill (a family ran burger and shake joint, featuring coffee drinks as well) and Coach House Bar and Grill.

Both; although busy, had great food and service. These businesses are ready to cater to families as well as the water, bike and hike adventurer.

Speaking of hiking and biking; you can connect with the great Appalachian Trail or bike on two great cross country bike trails.

The famed pedestrian bridge, next to the CSX main line ; ties in the Grand Allegheny Passage Trail, the C&O and Appalachian Trails.

All three meet in Harpers Ferry. 

Harpers Ferry has many historical ties. Folks know about George Washington surveying, the early days of American history, and the Civil War skirmish with John Brown and his raiders. Lewis and Clark started work in the Ohio Valley here.

America’s first railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio; still have ties and active rail lines.

CSX has their cross country trains run by the historic depot.

Amtrak’s Capitol Limited stops daily; plus trains heading to DC and Baltimore on commuter lines.

The station platform is open to the public. There are no historical volunteers are presently (2020, COVID-19 pandemic) man the station museum.

This historical site basically stays busy many days of the year.

Pick accommodations nearby. Harpers Ferry hotels book quickly.

However; Martinsburg, Falling Waters, and Berekley hotels are easy access to interstates, state and US routes near Harpers Ferry.

(Anywhere from a 15-35 mile radius)

If you can deal with limited parking accommodations; it is indeed worth the trip.

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