Are you planning a summertime getaway to beautiful Harpers Ferry, West Virginia? Unsure of the best warm-weather activities in the area? Well, you’re in luck! Our list of the top summertime fun in the historic town of Harpers Ferry is the best place to start when planning your unforgettable mountain escape.
Harpers Ferry is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of nearby Baltimore or Washington, DC. It is within an hour and fifteen minutes of either of these city hubs by car or easily accessible by Amtrak.
With endless outdoor activities, delicious dining, and incredible historical significance, booking a stunning cabin rental in Harpers Ferry is a surefire way to have a memorable getaway. Whether you visit in the fall, winter, spring, or summer, there is plenty to do year-round. Start building your summer itinerary now with these activities.
Take a Hike
Hiking is one of the top activities in Harpers Ferry. Nestled in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, there are dozens of incredible hiking trails easily accessed from town.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The most famous trail in Harpers Ferry, and one of the most famous in the entire country, is the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT), stewarded by the National Park Service. This 2,100-mile trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and is attempted by thousands of hikers, known as thru-hikers, every year. Harpers Ferry is generally considered the halfway point of this storied route.
If you would like to say you have hiked on the famous AT, you have many options in the Harpers Ferry area to step food on the trail. Some popular hikes along the route include Maryland Heights and Jefferson Rock. For an authentic Appalachian Trail experience, hikers can tackle the 19.2-mile point-to-point Bears Den to Harpers Ferry hike.
Pro Tip: Stop by the Appalachian Trail Harpers Ferry Visitor’s Center in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It is a great spot for tourists and hikers to learn more about the trail and the classic American history that abounds.
Maryland Heights Trail
For the best views of Harpers Ferry, consider the Maryland Heights Trail. You can take three routes to reach the Maryland Heights overlook, the shortest being 4.5 miles and the longest at 6.5 miles. Regardless of your route, you will enjoy a moderately strenuous hike through verdant forests, finally being rewarded with jaw-dropping views.
At the Maryland Heights Overlook, you will see the entirety of Harpers Ferry, the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah, and the striking mountains surrounding the region. This spot is truly picture-perfect and a must-see for any visitor.
Combine hiking and history when you go to Jefferson Rock in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Named because it is the exact spot Thomas Jefferson stood as he passed through the area in 1783, even writing in his journal about the beauty of the view. The short walk to Jefferson Rock starts in Lower Town and provides a wonderful scene at the summit.
Tackle Some Rapids
Due to its location at the confluence of the Potomac River and Shenandoah River, Harpers Ferry is known as a wonderful place for whitewater rafting.
Bring your own raft, rent one from one of the fantastic outfitters in town, or book a guided trip down the river for an exhilarating experience. Suitable for beginners if on a guided trip and intermediate paddlers; otherwise, you will have the time of your life navigating rapids that are Class I-III, depending on the season and water levels. It is possible to raft, kayak, or tube the river.
If a peaceful float down the river is more your style, try the Shenandoah River. You can rent a tube and enjoy a relaxing day on a calm stretch of flat water. Safe and fun for the whole family, a float trip is a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day.
Pro Tip: Contact River Riders for canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting tours, and even zip lining at their Adventure Park!
What better way to spend a summer day than sipping on wine while looking out over gorgeous mountain views? You can do just that when you visit the wonderful vineyards surrounding Harpers Ferry.
Loudoun County is often called “DC Wine Country” due to its close proximity to the nation’s capital and is known for being a great location for wine production. Vines have been cultivated in Northern Virginia since colonization, though the industry really began finding success in the 1950s. Today, there are dozens of vineyards in the area producing award-winning wines.
Many of these vineyards offer tastings and tours, and spending your afternoon enjoying beautiful views while trying new wines is hard to beat. Check out our list of some of the top local vineyards to begin planning your day of wine tasting.
Eat Your Heart Out Around Harpers Ferry
This charming town may be small, but it punches above its weight when it comes to the dining scene. From vegan cuisine that will impress all to classic southern fare, the cuisine covers all taste buds. These are some of the best options for summer eats around town.
Walk Through History
Harpers Ferry is heaven on earth for history enthusiasts. The site of numerous important events that changed the course of the American Civil War, visiting the historic sites and museums in the area is a fantastic way to spend a summer day.
John Brown’s Raid in 1859 is one of the most significant events that took place in Harpers Ferry. This raid, led by abolitionist John Brown, is said to have been a prelude to the Civil War and one of the events that catapulted the nation into war. Visit John Brown’s Fort in the Lower Town of Harpers Ferry to learn more about this important event.
Another great historic walk is through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. It is the site of the 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry, significant for being the single largest capture of Union troops. In addition to its historical importance, the park is stunningly beautiful and fantastic for a summer stroll.
Some of the best museum stops in Harpers Ferry include:
- A Place in Time Museum
- Industry Museum
- Black Voices Museum
- Jefferson County Museum
Summer Travel Tips
Plan for All Weather
Summer weather in Harpers Ferry is generally hot, a little humid, and mostly sunny, although summer storms are not uncommon. July is typically the hottest month, with average highs reaching the mid-80s and temperatures in the 90s not uncommon. Afternoon storms are common, and while they can interrupt some outdoor plans, they bring a welcome relief from the heat.
Knowing what to expect from the weather will help you pack properly and plan the perfect itinerary. Keep an eye on your weather apps and schedule outdoor activities for mornings and evenings.
The summer heat in Harpers Ferry means packing the right clothes is crucial to stay comfortable. For outdoor activities like hiking or biking, it is best to wear moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics to help you stay cool and dry. Don’t forget your sunscreen, a hat, and bug spray.
In the evenings, the temperatures can cool down into the 60s, so you might want to bring a sweatshirt or long-sleeved shirt to wear to dinner. Rain and thunderstorms are common, so don’t forget a raincoat!
Plan Activities According to the Weather
To stay cool during your summer vacation in Harpers Ferry, you’ll need to plan your activities with the weather in mind!
- Hiking: If you’re looking to do a lot of hiking, you should plan to wake up early and hit the trails shortly after sunrise to avoid the heat and bugs of mid-day.
- Rafting: For a rafting or tubing trip, that midday sun is your best friend, so a late morning put-on is no problem.
- Museums: Rainy days are the perfect opportunity to check out the local museums or stay home and enjoy the peace and tranquility of your gorgeous mountain cabin rental.
A Summer Getaway to Harpers Ferry
A summer vacation to beautiful Harpers Ferry is full of memory-making potential. Take advantage of the gorgeous weather to get outside and see some of the area’s most stunning natural areas and historic sites, or take a day to relax at a local vineyard or from the porch of your Mountain Mama cabin.
Whatever you choose to do during your summer getaway, prepare to fall in love with Harpers Ferry!
Featured Image Credit: caleb1223