Our first trip of 2019 finished our sixth year of hiking the Appalachian Trail, AT, starting in Georgia and reaching southern Pennsylvania during this trip. Our first two trips each year go East and the next two trips go West. Day hiking over 1000 AT trail miles was an exploration of Appalachian America and required over 2,000 miles of Day hiking since we hike out-and-back to return to our camper and sometimes use connector trails. Finding all the remote trailheads was also a interesting exploratory task. We reached the AT halfway point this year and based on trail miles, we "finished" the AT at the halfway point since we hike out-and-back.
Day hiking the greater Maryland AT is convenient because four state parks are staggered along the trail. They are, from south to north: Greenbrier SP (MD), Cunningham Falls SP (MD), Caledonia SP (PA), and Pine Grove Furnace SP (PA). All these parks have hot showers (why else day hike all those miles?). Greenbrier SP worked well for visiting Harpers Ferry NHP.
The greater Maryland AT section we hiked included hiking parts of northern Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and southern Pennsylvania where the AT halfway point is located. This 110+ mile trail section has some good views but is especially noteworthy for having more history along the trail than any other section we hiked or expect to hike.
Years ago I suggested the "grand tour" of the East in a loop. Harpers Ferry NHP could be added to the loop: Mammoth Cave NP, Great Smokey Mountains NP, Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah NP, Washington DC, and finally Harpers Ferry NHP. The grand tour would nicer if done early each year as the campgrounds open and allow the loop.
The first "discovery" along the trail was the original Washington Monument (which we never knew existed) and is located atop South Mountain in Maryland. The sign picture gives details for the monument and the second picture shows the original Washington Monument. Road access is available.
Another days hike south of the Washington monument reached Gathland which was orginally the estate of Civil War correspondent George Alfred Townsend. Townsend built the war correspondents memorial and was a prolific publisher with over 5,000,000 words published on a variety of subjects (an astonishing achievement before the internet). Road access is available.
Two days hiking south of Gathland and the AT reaches Harpers Ferry after following the C&O canal NP for a few miles and the next four pictures are AT views in hiking order, north to south. Harpers Ferry felt like walking in history since George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, John Brown, Robert E. Lee and others made history here. The AT crosses several Civil war battle fields in this section which are not pictured.
The train and Amtrak tunnel at the north end of Harpers Ferry:
John Brown's last stand at Harpers Ferry before being captured by Robert E. Lee and considered the spark leading to the Civil War:
Street view of Harpers Ferry NHP:
The AT crosses a bridge over the Shenandoah River on the south side of Harpers Ferry:
After hiking a AT section north-to-south past Harpers Ferry we switched to hiking south-to-north into Pennsylvania and passed several iron furnaces like the one pictured here in Boiling Springs, PA. The Maryland and Pennsylvania AT region was a major iron producing center in the early years of our republic and we have visited many furnaces.
Over the years, we have accidentally visited the "halfway point" of the AT more than once while hiking. The first picture is from 2014.
This is the current AT halfway point.
The original halfway monument from 1933 is shown here:
Edited by iowahiker, 11 May 2019 - 12:23 AM.