The Hike of Hikes

Take an afternoon to check out West Virginia’s segment of the Appalachian Trail.


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Photographed by Elizabeth Roth | The view of Harper's Ferry from Maryland Heights is easily accessible from the Appalachian Trail.

While the full Appalachian Trail might be a bit much—or, actually, impossible—for a family weekend trip, take a bite out of adventure with a stop at the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Ferry. We’ve challenged you to a summer of outdoor adventure in our state. Joining the National Wildlife Federation’s movement to get 10 million kids outside running, playing, swimming, and generally having fun, we’ve taken the last few weeks to list a few of West Virginia’s best outdoor activities. Our first post was on an amazing new online map listing West Virginia’s trails and usage information. While we’d encourage anyone to take a gander on any of those trails, today let’s turn to the grand dame of hiking trails: The Appalachian Trail.

Stretching from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is more than 2,000 miles long and has inspired numerous hikers worldwide to attempt its full length in one season. We’re hardly recommending you do that today. It’s nearly August, after all, and you might be stuck in snowdrifts by the time you hit New England. However, we lucky West Virginians claim the Appalachian Trail “psychological halfway point” in Harpers Ferry—both the National Park Service Appalachian Trail office and the Appalachian Trial Conservancy call the town home.

Take the kids and take a look at the trail visitors’ center to learn more about the history and culture of the Appalachian Trail. From the visitors’ center you can follow the trail for a day hike and return to Harpers Ferry by dinnertime. Imagine you’re adventurers following the trail from start to finish. Kids can apply to be a junior park ranger. Stop and chat with thru-hikers—if they’ll take the time for you.

Then head back to Harpers Ferry for a bit of Civil War history, another West Virginia claim to fame.

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