Looking for an easy day trip near Washington DC? Go hiking at Maryland Heights, then end that hike at a brewery.
Maryland Heights, in Harper’s Ferry, has all the elements of a great day trip from Washington DC:
- Close enough that you can sleep in (1.5 hour drive)
- Easy to moderate hiking trails
- Noticeable natural beauty
- A view from the top
- Again, brewery.
(Looking for a hike in DC? Check out Hiking at Rock Creek Park (after biking there from across town.))
Hiking at Maryland Heights
Located near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, Maryland Heights is a go-to day hike near Washington, DC. You can either choose one of the two hikes, or combine them for extra exercise and outside time.
- The Stone Fort Trail – 3.3 miles – 3 hours round trip
- The Overlook Cliff Trail – 1.4 miles -1.5 miles round trip
We did both trails, starting with Stone Fort Trail and hitting the Overlook Cliff on the way back.
I’m glad we did both, but if we did it again I would hike the Overlook Cliff Trail first. It was pretty crowded by the time we got there, while we hardly passed anyone on Stone Fort Trail. We had the top to ourselves– always ideal for an introvert.
The view from the peak of Stone Fort Trail is stunning, even if a slightly obscured by the trees. (It’s like nature doesn’t care about our view or something.) Overlook Cliff has a more cleared viewing platform (unless you count the people.)
Both trails pass by some neat Civil War stuff, and trail signs revealing the history. It is pretty cool to think you’re walking the same steps as civil war soldiers (and thankful you’re not also lugging a cannon up the trail in the snow.
If you prefer a bit of solitude when you hike, leaving DC early will let you bypass most crowds. We left DC about 7:00 a.m., which was enough time to drive there and have our hike to ourselves, save for the last 20 minutes coming down from Overlook Cliff.
Another benefit of finishing the hike early: We were able to get to Harper’s Ferry Brewery right at opening time and a good table.
Harper’s Ferry Brewing
Poised on top of a cliff overlooking the Potomac, Harper’s Ferry Brewing has one of the best locations for a brewery I’ve seen. The expansive outdoor space offers plenty of picnic tables, food trucks, and a few oversized games.
Get the tasting flight– you can choose which brews you want to try. Feeling v American, I uncharacteristically grabbed a hot dog platter with fries. It was delicious, particularly with the cold beers (and this is why I’m a flexitarian.)
My guy and I drank, ate, and played cards as the place slowly filled up. It was a diverse crowd– millennials from the city in their Instagram best, locals and apparent regulars, families with young kids. It was a great atmosphere, cheerful and busy without that wall-to-wall-packed quality of DC breweries and beer gardens on a Saturday.
Between lunch and cards we stayed for a while, maybe two hours, which was more than enough to sunburn the hell out of my back. What is it about beer that makes you feel invincible from the sun?
An easy drive home, half of which I was asleep because, beer and sunlight. Thank you, designated driver boyfriend.