Avid and casual bicyclists alike can find plenty of biking opportunities while on their West Virginia vacation. Harpers Ferry, a historic town near your cabin rental, is a fantastic destination for a day of interesting history, beautiful views, and great biking opportunities. Visitors of all ages will enjoy their time spent in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
About Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry is a quaint, historic town located in northeast West Virginia, only around 1.5 hours from Washington, DC. Located within the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, it is a popular destination for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
During the American Civil War, Harpers Ferry was considered one of the most important locations in the war, often called “the best strategic point in the South.” Some historical events that took place here include John Brown’s Raid and the Battle of Harpers Ferry.
Nowadays, Harpers Ferry is perhaps best known, at least in the hiking world, as the halfway point of the famed Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian trail stretches over 2,200 miles, from Georgia to Maine. Thru-hikers appreciate their halfway stop in Harpers Ferry, where they can enjoy a good night’s sleep and some delicious comfort food at our intown restaurants.
In addition to the Appalachian Trail, there are numerous fantastic hikes surrounding Harpers Ferry. Visitors flock to the area in the autumn when the changing foliage is some of the best in the country. But hiking isn’t the only outdoor activity available in Harpers Ferry; the biking options are superb!
Best Bike Trails Around Harpers Ferry
There are numerous options for biking in the Harpers Ferry area, and it is a bike-friendly town. The park shuttle buses are equipped with racks to transport your bike throughout the park, and you’ll find plenty of bike racks for parking throughout town.
Biking is not allowed on the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park trails but there are plenty of other options nearby.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Towpath
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Towpath, or the C&O Canal Towpath for short, is an incredible crushed stone dust trail that stretches an impressive 184.5 miles, from Georgetown in Washington, DC, to Cumberland, Maryland. It was originally used for mules to walk beside the canal to help tow boats along.
Nowadays, it is a fantastic route for walking, running, or biking, and it gives visitors the chance to choose whatever distance best suits them. The towpath access from Harpers Ferry is below the footbridge over the Potomac.Do note that you will have to carry your bike down two flights of stairs to get from the bridge down to the trail.
The towpath can be whatever you want; a short, relaxing ride or a long ride meant to get your heart pumping. The path is well-marked, generally flat, and has no shortage of beautiful sights along the way.
If you make it all the way to Cumberland, Maryland and still have not had enough then you are in luck! The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail connects Cumberland all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along an additional 150 miles of crushed limestone trail.
Rolling Ridge Mountain Bike Trail
Mountain bikers looking for a challenge near Harpers Ferry will find just that on the Rolling Ridge Trail. Located around 30 minutes south of Harpers Ferry, this trail is rated as difficult and offers 11 miles of big rock gardens, uphill climbs, and fast downhills.
Rolling Ridge is typically closed for hunting season, from mid-October to mid-December, so keep that in mind while planning your trip.
Freedom Center Loop
In northern Loudoun County, around 30 minutes outside of Harpers Ferry, is the Freedom Center Loop trail. This six-mile singletrack trail is considered intermediate and is well-loved by local bikers. It offers a fun mix of hills and technical obstacles. The trail caretakers ask that you avoid riding here if there has been heavy rain in the last 48 hours, as riding in wet conditions can damage the trail.
Gambrill State Park
Gambrill State Park is located in Frederick County, Maryland, and offers 16 miles of biking trails. The trails are multi-use, so remember trail right-of-way rules for when you encounter hikers and horseback riders.
- Beginner trails: Red Oak trail (one mile)
- Moderate trails: Green Ash trail (two miles) and Yellow Poplar trail (seven miles)
- Difficult trails: Black Locust trail (three miles) and Catoctin National Recreation trail (28 miles)
Town of Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry itself is a very bike-friendly town, and you are more than welcome to enjoy this quaint and historic town by bike. Take yourself on a biking tour of some of the most popular spots in town, such as the John Brown’s Fort, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and St. Peter’s Roman Catholic church.
Do note that cyclists are welcome on the streets of town but not on sidewalks or park trails.
When to Visit for a Great Biking Trip
Harpers Ferry is a great destination any time of year, with each season having its own perks.
Spring in Harpers Ferry is a season of growth and you are sure to see many wildflowers lining the trails and walkways. The weather may be rainy, but the welcome warming weather is perfect for biking.
Long days, sunshine, and refreshing dips in the various creeks and rivers in the area are some of the many great things about Harpers Ferry in the summertime. The extended daylight hours mean you can bike even further and the lush greenery around you makes for gorgeous surroundings.
Fall is one of the most popular seasons for visitors to Harpers Ferry. The vibrant changing leaves of the surrounding Appalachian mountains, the cooling weather, and of course, the spooky history of the town itself all make Harpers Ferry a top autumn destination. Regardless of the time of the year, don’t miss out on the town’s ghost tour, albeit it’s extra special during the fall.
After a hot summer, it is refreshing to bike on a cool day and enjoy the bright reds, oranges, and yellows of the changing foliage.
The winter season is a great time to avoid crowds, heat, and insects in Harpers Ferry. You may experience cold or wet weather, but will benefit from having trails mostly to yourself. The views from overlooks really open up in the winter since there is no foliage blocking them, so be sure to stop and admire the beautiful mountain ranges.
Harpers Ferry Bike Rentals
If you don’t want to bring your own bike on your vacation or you don’t own one, there are a handful of local businesses that rent out bikes and biking equipment, including helmets. Helmets are required for all riders under the age of 14 and required for everyone when on the Maryland side of the C&O towpath.
- Harpers Ferry Bikes (for e-bikes): 304-504-3301
- KOA Campground: (304) 535-6895 or 1-800-KOA-9497
- Harpers Ferry Outfitters & Bike Shop: (304) 535-2087
- River and Trail Outfitters: (301) 834-9950
- Harpers Ferry River Riders: 1-800-326-7238
- Shepherdstown Pedal & Paddle: (304) 876-3000
Enjoy the Top Bike Trails in Harpers Ferry
Take advantage of the fantastic location of your West Virginia cabin rental and spend a day biking through the gorgeous scenery around Harpers Ferry. There are trails suitable for all experience levels, and you are sure to make lifelong memories on your vacation!