National Scenic Trail
With its narrow footpath climbing through the most rugged terrain in the eastern United States, and showcasing splendid views from rocky outcroppings and bald mountains, the 2,193-mile Appalachian Trail is the ultimate long-distance hiking path. World-renowned and attracting millions of visitors a year, it crosses the C&O Canal Towpath across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry. In fact, the Appalachian Trail shares a 2.5 mile length of the towpath as they thread through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; this section is often crowded with backpackers. Because Harpers Ferry is at the rough midpoint of the Appalachian Trail, the town hosts the annual Flip-Flop Festival, celebrating thru-hikers who complete one section of the trail from Harpers Ferry northward, and then from the town southward, to take advantage of good weather in both directions.
Completed in 1937, the Appalachian Trail is a unit of the National Park System. It is managed under a unique partnership between the public and private sectors led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which has its office in Harpers Ferry.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and is just up the hill from Harpers Ferry’s historic district.