Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hiking the Civil War, Nature, and Geology at Harpers Ferry's Maryland Heights

I've been a bit laid up this week with a sprained ankle because I took a bit of a tumble while coming down Maryland Heights last Saturday. The day after the 4th, everyone was home from work so why not go somewhere big and do something big? We drove to Harper's Ferry for one of the big hikes!It was a beautiful day with clear skies and temperatures in the 70's!


This is where the Potomac and Shenandoah meet.  We were able to walk across a bridge from the town of Harper's Ferry to Maryland. That was the first I've ever walked to another state! The path is next to the train tracks. I'm glad there were no trains while we were on the bridge.
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We decided to hike to the top of Maryland Heights, which is a rather steep and rocky trail. Elevation at the river level is about 300 feet. The top of Maryland Heights is 1453 feet.  We found raspberries growing along the side of the trail.

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Every once in a while we came to a clearing with a great view. Our first overlook was rather quick to reach and was 627 feet.
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This is where a 30 pound battery had been lifted, about 1181 feet.

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The trail kept getting steeper.  The Union troops climbed these steep trails while hauling cannon and ammunition to the top of the mountain.

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The higher we got, the rockier the trail became.

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I don't think the picture does justice to the steepness of the trail. My husband took this picture of us...

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Near the top we came to a breastworks near where the soldiers camped.

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More of the breastwork through the trees...

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These stairsteps were a most worthy Eagle Scout project.

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At the very top was the end of our ascent where we found the stone fort. We had hiked up about 1200 feet.

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The total elevation of the Stone Fort is 1453 feet.

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As we started to climb down the mountain, we had to climb over many boulders and rocks, near which we found grapes!

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We also found a lot of pegmatite quartz! Here's only one of many pictures of many rocks I took.

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It is from here that a  100 pounder battery was lifted up the mountain during the Civil War. Amazing.

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We hiked further down and found a redoubt, which is the large hill seen in the next few pictures. These are earthworks that were built by the men for protection during attack.

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There was a special bridge to walk on to climb up. Earthworks shouldn't be climbed. The park service is trying to preserve them.

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As we came further down the mountain we found a small deer happily eating in the forest. He'd pop his head up to look at us, flick his ears and tail, then go back to cheerfully eating.  We stood there for about 5 minutes and he came quite close. He never minded us one bit.

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Somewhere after this point I tripped. I scraped up my left leg and my right ankle was sore. I rested a bit and took refreshment, then continued walking down the mountain.  It was quite steep coming down so it obviously has to be taken carefully. Finally we came to the end of the trail and we were at the Potomac River again!  We hiked the entire trail in about 3.5 hours.

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3 comments:

  1. Harpers Ferry is one of my very favorite spots. I go every fall for all the gorgeous colors. There is a great store in the old town that has period correct candies from the 18th and 19th Centuries. They've started to recognize me there I've been so much! :-)

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    1. Isabella, I've been to town a couple of times in the past. It's so charming. I had my first and best soft shell crab there! I missed the period correct candies. I'm making a mental note of that for next time!
      Laurie

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  2. I love this whole area. Great photos it sounds like it was an awesome trip.

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