Harpers Ferry

For awhile, I’ve been wanting to take a day trip to do some hiking or exploring outside the DC area. Not having a car makes day trips logistically challenging; there are places in the region that we can get to via bus or train, but these often run on limited schedules on the weekends and it can be a bit of a hassle. But we finally pulled ourselves together yesterday, taking advantage of a three-day weekend and low rental car rates to make a day trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

We chose Harpers Ferry because it’s just over an hour away, there are a number of short hikes in the vicinity, the Appalachian Trail runs through here, and there’s also a little town for exploring and we figured it would make a nice day trip and that we could get lunch there. We weren’t in search of any hard-core hiking, since we haven’t been in awhile and this would be the day after a 14-mile long run for me; we just wanted to get outside and do something different from our normal weekend routine.

And that’s just what we got. The drive out there was easy and quick. I didn’t quite realize that the whole town is a National Historic Park, and therefore kind of “fake”…there are authentic historic structures, but all have been preserved and maintained as historic sites, semblances of the types of shops and homes that existed in the Lower Town in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is also a strip of actual commercial establishments, catering to the tourist crowd, selling things like ice cream, fudge, knickknacks, and bar and grill-type meals. It was nice enough, but I was a little bummed that it wasn’t quite a “real” town.

We walked around the historic buildings and exhibits a bit, then began climbing a series of stone steps out of the Lower Town to begin our “hike”.

I put that in quotes because it ended up being really more of a walk through the woods: not terribly strenuous. But, we weren’t looking to kill ourselves, so it worked out okay. We had nice views:

Saw a historic cemetery, which I always love:

Communed with nature:

Crossed a bridge and saw industrial ruins (another favorite).

We planned to have lunch and a beer once we returned to the town, but found out beers aren’t served in West Virginia on Sundays until 1pm. So, pumpkin ice cream instead, the first of the season: so good.

Followed by locally brewed beer at Private Quinn’s pub. It wasn’t so great though (the beer or the pub). I wouldn’t really recommend it.

After that, we were ready to be done with Harpers Ferry. It was fun, but I don’t think I would go back there. Next, I want to go to Shenandoah for a little more serious hiking, maybe post-marathon for a weekend trip.

On our way back to DC, we drove through Loudon County, Virginia, and passed a ton of wineries. I knew that northern Virginia has a handful of wineries but had never been to any. On a whim, we decided to pull into one.

The wine was nice but not amazing; at $10 for 10 tastings, the price was right! It was actually really fun, and the scenery was beautiful. If it hadn’t been raining, I would have been happy to buy a bottle and hang out in the grass for awhile.

Every time I leave DC, I am always so happy to return. I had a fun day and I was really happy to do something different, to get out and about and explore some new places. But at the end of the day, I was definitely ready to get rid of the car and get back to our city. Every time I return from a work trip and fly back into DCA, I am so happy to see the monuments, to feel like I’m “home”. Guess that’s a good sign.




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