Mountain Mama Vacation Homes

10 Incredible Outdoor Activities in Harpers Ferry

Nestled in the front range of the Appalachian Mountains sits Harpers Ferry, a West Virginian town at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. From scenic hiking trails that go through storied battlefields to zipline tours and whitewater kayaking, this slice of heaven on earth is ripe with some of the best outdoor adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Sitting right on the Appalachian Trail, Harpers Ferry is the perfect spot for some seriously exciting outdoor activities. But history buffs, peek up from the books to experience some real-world American history with a visit to Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry is only an hour from both Washington DC and Baltimore, so if you’re looking to get out of the city, it’s an easy weekend getaway.

Mountain Mama Vacation Homes and Cabins has you covered if you’re looking for a truly unique and comfortable stay. Many of our rentals have lake or river access or valley views and access to the Appalachian Trail.

Let’s get planning your Harpers Ferry outdoor itinerary with these 10 incredible outdoor activities.


1. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail

Photo by Nico Schueler
  • Address: 799 Washington St, Harpers Ferry, WV
  • Best for: Overnight backpacking enthusiasts or nature aficionados.

Harpers Ferry is known to many hikers on the Appalachian Trail as the “Halfway Point.” This historic town sits about halfway between Maine and Georgia, the northern and southern termini of the 2,200-mile trail.

Head over to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters and Visitor Center before you set out. There, you’ll meet some trail experts who can give you the 411 on hiking tips and lookout points, along with the best hikes you can do on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Lush mountain scenery, adorable raccoons, and sometimes bears might sneak into your purview.

You may even run into thru-hikers traversing the entire 2,200 miles. They’ll stop here to take their novel halfway point photo, and many are known to share laughs and adventure stories with Harpers Ferry travelers. Stop and chat with them about their experiences!


2. Whitewater Kayaking

Photo by Parilov

Craving a little adrenaline? Water-sport desperados will relish this pumped-up twist to Harpers Ferry kayaking: whitewater kayaking.

If you think you’re comfortable enough solo on a boat while riding the rapids, don’t miss out on this thrill-seeking activity. Lucky for you, Harpers Ferry has tons of opportunities for whitewater kayaking!


3. Tubing

Photo by Zack Frank
  • Address: 408 Alstadts Hill Rd, Harpers Ferry, WV
  • Best for: Wildlife watchers and active adventurers.

The water might intrigue you, but a rough-and-tumble ride isn’t your cup of tea? In that case, why not lazily meander down the river for a tranquil yet still fun day on the river. Tubing is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Harpers Ferry and once you give it a try, you’ll quickly see why.

The Potomac has a beautiful flat water section, which is great for a relaxing float and for catching glimpses of wildlife, like turtles and herons. If you don’t have your own tube or someone to pick you up once you make your way down the river, the outdoor outfitters provide a full-service tubing experience.


4. Go Hiking Along Historic Trails

Photo by Vladimir Grablev

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, once a strategic Civil War center, is now a quaint historic town filled with beautifully preserved buildings, ruins, and cemeteries.

Walking through Lower Town is a wonderful way to get outside without breaking as much of a sweat. You can see historic landmarks and attractions like the John Brown Wax Museum and Jefferson Rock here.

Outside of the town, plenty of scenic hikes will take you past Harpers Ferry’s best lookouts and river and forest scenery. Two of the best include the Maryland Heights Trail and Loudoun Heights Trail.


5. Ziplining

Photo by RossHelen
  • Harpers Ferry Adventure Center: 37410 Adventure Center Ln, Hillsboro, VA
  • River Riders: 408 Alstadts Hill Rd, Harpers Ferry, WV
  • River and Trail Outfitters: 99 Cary Lu Circle, #108 Harpers Ferry WV
  • Best for: People who are good with heights and high speeds. We suggest going with bigger kids for this one.

Imagine flying through the treetops, soaring past flora, fauna, and the forest’s gentle water bodies. A bird swoops past you in the sky’s opposing lane of traffic. Welcome to ziplining — a must-do outdoor activity in Harpers Ferry.

Zoom over the Potomac River or take a canopy tour. You can score some pretty sweet adventure combo deals with River Riders and Harpers Ferry Adventure Center.

Are you traveling with a large group? We know that family getaways can be a huge undertaking and make it sometimes difficult to accommodate everyone. But the smiles and memories make it all worth it!  One of those memories could be a dedicated “large group zipline” from River and Trail Outfitters which makes a great activity to include your whole party!


6. White Water Rafting

Photo by Aleksandr Lupin

Harpers Ferry sits right at the meeting of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, making it a perfect place to enjoy both fast-moving, whitewater rapids and gentle flat water.

Even if you have never been whitewater rafting before, instructors will teach you how to paddle and ride the rapids like a pro.


7. Ropes Course

Photo by ER_09

How’s your grip strength? Still can’t make that pull-up? No stress; Harpers Ferry ropes courses have plenty of supportive harnesses to keep you atop. Tack on your helmet and climb your way through an overhead obstacle course.

With stunning vistas aplenty in the Harpers Ferry region, seize the opportunity to experience something new and exhilarating.

Test your limits at the four-acre Aerial Adventure Park at River Riders. Or, if you’d like to try a ropes course with your little ones, Harpers Ferry Adventure Center offers both high and low ropes courses. The former is perfect for adults and older children, while the latter is tailored to kids aged 5 to 12.


8. Go Swimming and Lounge by the Lake

Photo by Jeri Bland
  • Where to go: Lake Shannondale
  • Best for: The semi-homebody who wants peace and privacy.

Mountain Mama has several beautiful lakefront cabins with access to Lake Shannondale just out the back door. So, gather your towel, sunscreen, homemade sandwiches, and a good book. Then, head out towards the lake for the day!

Even if your cabin is not lakefront, the Mountain Lake Club has a sandy beach, boat rentals, and a new clubhouse serving up good food and local beer. The club often has live music on summer evenings, so follow their Facebook page for updates.

Sometimes when you’re on vacation, you just need a little time to relax. Lounging by the lake on a sunny warm day is the perfect way to do that.


9. Canoeing

Photo by EB Adventure Photography
  • River Riders: 408 Alstadts Hill Rd, Harpers Ferry, WV
  • River and Trail Outfitters: 99 Cary Lu Circle, #108 Harpers Ferry WV
  • Best for: Families, couples, and older travelers.

Canoeing on the river is a low-energy family-friendly activity to enjoy with the kids or even a fun date with your partner.

Canoeing only occurs on flatwater, so this is a good option if you’re a little more weary of rapids and prefer relaxed outdoor recreation instead. This is also a good option for families with little kids. You can stick little people and their paddles right in the middle of the boat when they need a break.


10. Biking

  • Best for: Families with small children too young to walk or those looking for an easy ride (e-bikes).

The hiking in Harpers Ferry is undeniably some of the best in the region, but what if you’re short on time and want to cover more ground? Mountain biking is a must during springtime visits to Harpers Ferry.

Be it with your own trusty ride or a rented one; biking lets you traverse the undulating terrain of Harpers Ferry with ease. You can see John Brown’s Fort, White Hall Tavern, the remains of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and many other historic sites.

Not into the cardio workout? Take things slow with an e-bike rental from Harpers Ferry Bikes or River Riders. In addition, River and Trail Outfitters offers two guided bike tours: one centered around Civil War History and the other on Natural History.

Harpers Ferry is a Breath of Fresh Air

When it comes to outdoor activities at Harpers Ferry, take your pick. Glide through the treetops like a flying squirrel or indulge in total stillness by the graceful waters of Lake Shannondale. A vacation to this Appalachian town gifts travelers with natural wonders and history.

If you’re feeling inspired, we invite you to book a vacation home rental and see for yourself! You deserve a true getaway with fresh linens, fully stocked kitchens and bathrooms, high-speed internet, and grandiose views of the town’s many forests. So get outside and explore the nature and history that surrounds Harpers Ferry!


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