THING TO DO

Bicycle from Williamsport to Harpers Ferry

A sweeping view of two rivers meeting, a railroad bridge crossing over the river to arrive in a hilltop town
The rail bridge to Harpers Ferry runs over the Potomac just before it is met by the Shenandoah river.

Monica larcom

Overview

It is just under 40 miles from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal's Cushwa Basin in Williamsport to Harpers Ferry, WV. The towpath (pictured along the roadway on the right side of the rail bridge in the picture) runs along the Maryland side of the Potomac, but the Historic Harpers Ferry is only a quick stair-climb and walk across the bridge away.
Accommodations, restaurants, and interpretive tours for the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park are also available. If you want to take a break from riding, enjoy a challenging climb with breathtaking views on either Loudon or Maryland Heights.

To Start:

Choose your starting point, and either drop a car on one end or the other before hitting the towpath (alternatively, arrange with an outfitter to drop you off on one end and have your car waiting for you on the other end). Ample parking is available in Harpers Ferry's Visitor center parking lot across the rail bridge and off of route 340. Parking is also readily available at Cushwa Basin visitor center in Williamsport.

Free, one-night stays are available at hiker-biker sites along the towpath at regular intervals. There are also several overnight accommodations available both in Harpers Ferry and Willamsport.

Consider a relaxed pace that allows you to stop over in Shepherdstown, either for lunch or for the night. Shepherdstown is accessed by taking Canal Rd up from Lock 38 to Route 34, and making a left over the bridge. Across Route 34 from Canal road is Ferry Hill Plantation, once home to Henry Kyd Douglas.

When in Harpers Ferry, don't forget to visit the famous Jefferson Rock, or tour the historic graveyard on the hill. In Williamsport, stop by the Cushwa Basin Visitor Center from March-November, and enjoy a bite to eat from one of the local restaurants less than half a mile up US Route 11.
Details
All ages are welcome, but consideration for individuals physical fitness level is important when determining how many miles you will cover each day. 
Pets are allowed on the towpath and within the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park, as long as they are kept on a leash 6 feet or less in length.
Entrance to the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park in Williamsport is free. Hiker-Biker sites are free (and first-come, first-serve)
 
Start at the Visitor center in Williamsport Maryland: 205 W. Potomac St, Williamsport, MD 21795, and end in Harpers Ferry (park your car in the Upper visitor center and bus shuttle area: 171 Shoreline Dr, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425).
No reservations needed unless making nightly accommodation arrangements. 

Last updated: March 1, 2018