As the highest ridge surrounding the town of Harpers Ferry, Maryland Heights once bustled with private industry and Civil War occupation.
Antietam Iron Works, a major nail producer in the early 1800s, burned the timber of the heights for charcoal to fuel furnace and forges. Traces of charcoal hearths and roads remain today as testimony to this industry.
Civil War earthworks, stone fortifications, and encampments transformed the mountain into a fortress from 1862 to 1865. Today, these former defenses and camps are some of the best preserved Civil War ruins in the United States.
Nature has reclaimed Maryland Heights, but hiking these trails offers a look at the weathered and silent ruins of the past.
Suggested Day Hikes
Overlook Cliff Trail (red)
A steady climb to a scenic overlook with excellent views of Harpers Ferry and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. This trail also explores a Civil War fortification.
Distance: 2.8 miles
Time: 2 hours round trip.
Stone Fort Trail (blue)
A more strenuous hike, steep in spots, to the summit. Along the way are weathered charcoal hearths and the ruins of Civil War defenses and military campgrounds. Scenic vista reveal Maryland Heights as a strategic mountain citadel on the border between the North and South.
Distance: 4.7 miles
Time: 3 hours round trip
These trails have strenuous uphill sections, no restrooms, and no water supply.
Due to the steep and uneven terrain, the trails are not accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.
Federal law requires protection of these irreplaceable ruins and artifacts. Leave them undisturbed.