Getting in/out of 15-passenger vans; driving about 20 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Hiking. 3.5 miles; uneven, rock terrain. Significant elevation changes, 600-foot ascents to 800-foot descents. Alternative 3-mile hike available where AT coincides C&O towpath; flat, slightly uneven terrain.
Dining Room buffet. We’ll also pack our lunches.
We’ll ride to Loudon Heights, one of the mountains surrounding Harpers Ferry, to begin today's journey. As the AT flip-flops between the state lines of Virginia and West Virginia, we’ll walk on the right side of the trail that is in West Virginia to get all four miles of the West Virginia trail. A short side trail will provide a vista of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. We’ll then descend into the Shenandoah River basin and cross at the new bridge. For those who've experienced enough ups and downs on the AT, an alternative flat hike is available on part of the C&O Canal Towpath. This hike begins in Maryland and crosses the Potomac River bridge. We’ll all rendezvous for a late lunch at the AT Conservancy Headquarters.
At the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters, we’ll have the lunches we prepared this morning. Employees of the conservancy will greet us and share some of their own stories regarding the trail.
We’ll trace our steps along the AT relief map — or find pictures of friends or relatives who have thru-hiked the trail in the picture archives of the AT Conservancy. Then, returning to the trail and the view at Jefferson Rock, the trail continues down stone steps into Old Town Harpers Ferry. We’ll complete the West Virginia miles by hiking to the point where the Potomac meets the Shenandoah River, and have some time for independent exploration in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. From the National Park Service: “The history of Harpers Ferry has few parallels in the American drama. It is more than one event, one date, or one individual. It is multi-layered - involving a diverse number of people and events that influenced the course of our nation's history. Harpers Ferry witnessed the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown's attack on slavery, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States.”
Dining Room buffet. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner. We’ll also meet the Shepherd’s Spring chef, who will tell us about the local farmers she partners with to provide farm fresh meals.
We’ll ride to O'Hurley's General Store in nearby Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to enjoy music of the Appalachian region played by a rotating group of local musicians — playing instruments such as hammered dulcimers, guitars, and banjos — have gathered every Thursday night for the past 30 years! This is a real treat for the ears, eyes, snapping fingers, and tapping feet.