West Virginia & Maryland: Must-See Day Hikes on the AT
With only 17.5 miles of the AT in West Virginia and 40 miles in Maryland, these two states are known for being the smallest on the trail. Their small size makes them great for sections hikers to knock out quickly, and perfect for thru hikers who want to take on the “4 State Challenge“.
Don’t pass through these sections of trail too quickly though – the trail in each of these states is well maintained, the shelters are beautiful, and there are a good amount of overlooks to keep you coming back for more.
So, lace up those boots, grab your backpack, and check out these day hikes along the Appalachian Trail in neighboring West Virginia and Maryland:
1. Jefferson Rocks / Harper’s Ferry, WV
Total Distance: 2.4 miles
About the Hike:
Harper’s Ferry holds a very special place in the hearts of thru hikers and day hikers alike as it is the (unofficial) halfway point of the AT. The trail meanders down the streets and sidewalks of Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park, making for a unique “hike” that is a nice break from the green tunnel. Right past the main strip in town is Jefferson Rocks, where Thomas Jefferson himself stood and is quoted as saying “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” From this vantage point, you will have uninterrupted views of where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet.
The trail goes through the town of Harper’s ferry for 1.2 miles between Shenandoah Street and Potomac River Bridge. There is a National Park Service parking lot located right near the bridge. Hop on the trail on Potomac street (right after the bridge), and hike southbound up towards the church. You will come up to Jefferson Rocks after .4 miles. After another .4 you will come to a blue blazed trail intersection that will take you to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Follow the trail for another .3 miles until you intersect Shenandoah Street. From here, either retrace your steps back to your car, or follow Shenandoah street to create a loop and end your hike at Potomac River Bridge bridge.
2. Raven Rocks, WV
Total Distance: 5.4 miles
About the Hike:
Raven Rocks is a beautiful series of cliffs that showcase the beautiful Virginia Mountains. Located just over the border in West Virginia, theses rocks are a popular day trip for rock climbers and hikers alike. The overlook is located inside the northern end of what’s known as “The Roller Coaster” of the Appalachian Trail, which is a 15 mile stretch of sharp ascents and descents. So, be ready for a little bit of climbing going both north and southbound! Regardless, the view is well worth the effort, and is a picture perfect place to take a lunch break.
Parking at Snicker’s Gap, follow the AT northbound for 2.7 miles until you reach Raven Rocks. Then, retrace your steps back to your car. Snicker’s Gap has a good amount of parking, but get there early on weekends / nice days to ensure you get a spot.
3. Annapolis Rocks, MD / Black Rock Cliffs
Total Distance: 6.4 miles
About the Hike:
The trek to Annapolis Rocks and Black Raven Cliffs is one of the most popular day hikes on the Appalachian Trail. Don’t let the crowds deter you though, these two overlooks are worth getting up early to avoid the crowds. Although there is some steep sections of trail in the beginning of the hike, you are able to follow a smooth ridge line when walking from Annapolis Rocks to Black Raven Cliffs. If you’re really feeling up for an adventure, there are multiple camp sites located right behind Annapolis Rocks (available on a first come first serve basis so get there early)! Although beautiful, Annapolis Rocks is also known as one of the most damaged places on the AT due to overuse. The Leave No Trace organization has been working hard to bring this area back to life – so please do your part by staying on the trail and packing out trash in this section!
Park at the parking lot at coordinates 39.535583, -77.603796 in Green Brier State Park and take the very short connector trail to the AT. Climb the mountain and hike 2.1 miles to Annapolis Rocks, stop to enjoy the views, and then hike an additional 1.1 miles to Black Raven Rocks. Double back down the mountain and back to your car. There is a Ridge Runner stationed at Annapolis Rocks 24/7 during the busy months, make sure to stop and say hi!
4. Weverton Cliffs, MD
Total Distance: 1.4 miles (with longer options available)
About the Hike:
The first northbound overlook in Maryland after leaving Harper’s Ferry does not disappoint. This overlook offers views straight down the Potomac River, looking back on the Harper’s Ferry area. On a good day, you can see for miles from the top, and since this hike is on the shorter side, it makes for a great hike to watch either sunset or sunrise. The beginning of the hike is steep and involves a few switch backs, but the view at the top makes it all worth it! If you’re up for a longer day, you have the option of starting in Harper’s Ferry and following a very flat and easy tow road to the base of the climb. Really feeling adventurous? Combine the Jefferson Rocks / Harper’s Ferry hike mentioned above with Weverton Cliffs for a full 8.6 mile day on the AT!
If starting at the parking area on Weverton Road, follow the AT .7 miles up a few switchbacks, until you reach the blue blaze for the overlook. After spending time at the top, hike .7 miles back down to your car. To extend this hike, start at the National Park Service parking lot in Harper’s Ferry and follow the AT along a very flat tow path before crossing Weverton Road (6.2 miles round trip).
5. Washington Monument
Total Distance: 1 mile
About the Hike:
We all know of the Washington Monument in the National Mall, but did you know that 60 years before it’s construction began the original Washington Monument was built in Maryland? Lucky for us, the AT passes right along side this piece of history. The monument is open to visitors, and if you go during the warmer months, you will be able to climb to the top of the tower to see fantastic views of the Maryland mountains. The trail up the mountain has multiple signs which gives hikers and history buffs alike an escalated history of American throughout the Revolutionary War.
Beginning in Washington Monument State Park, park in the lot on Washington Monument Road. Follow the AT .5 miles up to the blue blaze which takes you to the monument, and then .5 miles back down. Water fountains and bathrooms available next to the monument on monument knob.
Did I miss your favorite West Virginia or Maryland day hike along the AT? Let me know where I forgot to add in the comments below!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.