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5 Can’t Miss Waterfalls Near Harpers Ferry

Located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is surrounded by some truly gorgeous waterways. And all those rivers, streams, and creeks nearby mean the presence of another incredible natural phenomenon and hiker’s bucket list dream: waterfalls.

The state of West Virginia boasts more than 200 waterfalls, and several are located within an hour’s drive of Harpers Ferry. That’s before you take into account cascades in the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland, a quick jaunt from the Mountain State’s panhandle.

Whether you want to picnic, swim, or just sit back and admire the beautiful views of these thundering falls, these seven can’t miss waterfalls near Harpers Ferry are sure to impress visitors of all ages.

If you’re ready to go chasing waterfalls, pack your bags and book your stay with Mountain Mama Cabins today.

1. Piney Run Falls

Photo Credit: Kannan Sundaram

The biggest falls in Potomac Wayside Park, where tubing parties disembark from the Potomac River, 20-foot-tall Piney Run Falls, is accessed via a steep but short walking trail. If possible, try to visit on a sunny day just after rainfall for maximum viewing impact.

Potomac Wayside Park is located in Purcellville, Virginia, just outside Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, so it’s less than a 10-minute drive away from town. Unfortunately, this close proximity means that the already limited parking can be scarce, so arrive as early as possible and be prepared to wait for a spot on weekends.

2. Hollow Brook Trail

Photo Credit: dancingnomad3 via Flickr CC 2.0

A word of warning—the Hollow Brook Trail head can be difficult to find, but it’s well worth the effort to visit this hidden gem. This is a 3.8-mile hike that starts at a parking area off Morgans Mill Road in Bluemont, Virginia.

A portion of this trail runs along the famous Appalachian Trail before reaching a beautiful set of waterfalls with a total elevation gain of about 860 feet. You may very well have this spot all to yourself, so bring a picnic lunch or snack to refuel for the walk back to your car.

The trail can be slippery after rain, though the falls, of course, will be flowing at their best. Assess trail conditions before you set out, as you’ll have to climb and descend Buzzard Hill along the course of the hike.

3. Falling Waters Waterfall

Photo Credit: Paul Waldo via Flickr CC 2.0

North of Harpers Ferry on the West Virginia border, Falling Waters Waterfall is celebrated for its historical significance and scenic beauty. This now-serene spot was the site of an 1861 battle during the American Civil War when Union forces led by General Robert Patterson clashed with Confederate troops led by none other than Colonel Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson.

Today, visitors can marvel at the falls, read the interpretive signs, and imagine the bloody events of the area’s not-too-distant past. There is a designated parking lot for Falls of Hills Creek and a small gravel lot with restrooms available.

4. Cunningham Falls

Photo Credit: Mary Terriberry

The highest cascading waterfall in Maryland, Cunningham Falls is located in a popular state park of the same name, roughly 45 minutes away from Harpers Ferry. Visitors can choose between a short loop trail or a lengthier main hiking trail to view the falls, which thunder down 78 feet.

After viewing the falls, you can canoe, fish, swim, and visit fascinating historical sites at Cunningham Falls State Park. You’ll also get excellent views of Cunningham Falls from neighboring Catoctin Mountain Park, which features even more hiking trails and recreational areas.

5. Great Falls Park

Photo Credit: Andrei Medvedev
  • Trail Access:
  • Distance from Harpers Ferry: 56 minutes

If you live in the DC area then you already know Great Falls.  But if not, you are in for a treat!  Just under an hour’s drive away from Harpers Ferry, you’ll reach one of the biggest and most scenic waterfalls on the Potomac River. Owned and operated by the National Park Service in McLean, Virginia, Great Falls takes its name from a series of thundering natural waterfalls in the narrow, rocky Mather Gorge.

Park at the visitor center before walking to one of three overlooks that provide sweeping views of the gorge.

While the falls and Potomac sights are breathtaking, you can also explore early colonial history along the Patowmack Canal and the Matildaville ruins. So, you may want to set aside at least half a day to fully experience everything Great Falls has to offer.

Other Waterfalls +1 Hour Away From Harpers Ferry

Photo Credit: Yoshiyuki Takahashi

While all of the above waterfalls are located within an hour’s drive of Harpers Ferry, there are also many more falls further away from town.

If you don’t mind making a bit of a trek to reach more waterfalls, you’ll often be rewarded with some of the best hikes in the area and amazing views. Consider making a day trip out to see any of these cascades, two of which are located in Shenandoah National Park.

Explore the Best Waterfalls Near Harpers Ferry

These waterfalls have great views, stunning surroundings, and even historical significance in some cases. Give yourself more than enough time during your visit to experience everything these cascades have to offer.

You might want to plan your trip from early to mid-spring when rainfall has swelled the rivers and vegetation has yet to grow over certain viewpoints. But even if you visit later in the year, you’re bound to see at least a little waterfall action.

Book your stay with Mountain Mama Cabins to get close to all of these waterfalls. Whether you plan your trip entirely around these cascades or not, you’re sure to fall in love with them—and the rest of the natural scenery here—during your visit.


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