Hiking West Virginia
by Steven Carroll and Mark Miller (Falcon Guides)
© Steven Carroll and Mark Miller/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This is a fun trail with great views of Harpers Ferry. Finding the Loudoun Heights trail was tricky. After you pass the gas station there is a small paved area. Look for the small sign a few feet after that.
I must have missed a turn somewhere along this trail. I followed the guide and when I made it back to the Loudoun Heights/AT junction my GPS (and my legs) told me I had gone 13.7 miles. The guidebook and the marker on the trail said I had 4 miles remaining to the Keys Gap trailhead and sure enough my GPS read 17.8 miles when I got there. I did take the side trip to the ATC HQ but that was only about a mile extra. I didn't go off into Harpers Ferry, ATC was the only distraction from the trail. This stretch of the AT is very rocky so wear boots with good support and traction. Large 1-2 foot diameter rocks cover the entire trail for long stretches and look as if they have been dumped from a wheelbarrow in a crude effort to pave the trail. The view from Loudoun Heights was incredible and made the whole hike worthwhile, even if it is 5.5 miles longer than listed. There is a full hike report on my blog at http://crazysanman.blogspot.com.
This was a pleasant loop hike which I intended to start at the Loudon Heights trailhead on route 340 and loop around using the AT northbound with a return to the trailhead. I had to find another access point to the AT in Maryland and hike in the reverse direction because the Loudon Heights trailhead is unmarked and overgrown without blazing for several hundred feet from Route 340. It is located at the far right corner of the parking area .1 mile west of the Exxon Gas Station.
Enjoyed the hike overall. One important note: the difficult to find trailhead for Loudon Heights is .6 miles past the end of the bridge across the river. It is .3 miles past Harpers Ferry Rd.
Hiked just the loop around Harpers Ferry, not the AT connection to Keyes Gap, on a bright and sunny Christmas Day. For an East coast hike we found it very varied an interesting, except for the flat, straight part along the canal tow path. There were interesting views of the rivers, the town, and other hills for much of the hike, which although only moderate, did have lots of ups and downs. We'd definitely recommend and will repeat the hike, in the winter of course, with no leaves on the trees to block the views, and comfortable hiking temperatures.
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