Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland
Picture of Slackpacking Maryland

Slackpacking Maryland

Destination: Harpers Ferry, MD

The Appalachian Trail, while often rugged and remote, is designed to accommodate both people who want to hike the entire trail and those who choose to section hike it, either by backpacking or by slackpacking. The AT in Maryland follows a 40-mile route along the backbone of South Mountain, a north-south ridge that extends from Pennsylvania to the Potomac River. This state is steeped in Civil War history and home to the original Washington Monument. This section is easy by A.T. standards, and is a good place to find out if you're ready for more rugged parts of the Trail. Join us as we continue our travel along the trail.

Highlights

  • Hiking the entire 40.2 miles of the AT in Maryland, from the Mason-Dixon Line to Harpers Ferry
  • Hiking on some of the easier sections of the AT—but don’t be fooled, there are still rocky paths, ups and downs, and challenges on the trail
  • Learning the role that this area played in the Civil War
  • Enjoying the beautiful vistas
  • Experiencing hostel life at the Harpers Ferry Hostel

Inclusions

  • 1 - 3 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Five nights lodging in Harpers Ferry Hostel
  • All meals from dinner on Sunday through breakfast the following Friday
  • Transportation between Dulles and the hostel and daily shuttles back and forth to the trailhead

What's not included: Travel to and from Dulles airport (IAD), alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and travel insurance

Departures

Accommodations

NOTE: There is limited availability on single supplements and we cannot confirm availability at time of booking.

No Accommodations Available

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This trip is rated a 4 because you will be hiking from 7.5 to 11.5 miles a day (see the itinerary for daily mileage) four days in a row and requires being in excellent physical condition. You can always choose to stay at the hostel for the day, which is a pleasant 3 mile walk from the town of Harpers Ferry. A rating of 4 requires aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week with additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2 hour hike with elevation gain once a week) and strength training. Going for longer hikes before the trip is recommended if you want to hike the entire 40 miles. This is an ideal first slackpacking trip for anyone who wants to see what they're like but with a shorter commitment and for any woman who is interested in section hiking the Appalachian Trail. Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

This is a hiking trip through the state of Maryland along the legendary Appalachian Trail. You will be hiking in the mountains with constant elevation gain and loss on a trail that is very rocky at times. We're staying just outside the historic town of Harpers Ferry, although there will be limited time to visit it.

We will be taking over the entire Harpers Ferry Hostel for the week. The hostel has three bedrooms, with 3 to 6 bunkbeds in each room. And while all of the beds are bunks, no one will have to sleep on a top bunk. There are 2 separate bathrooms, each with 3 toilets and showers. There is also great dining and living space. There are no singles available on this trip.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Meet at 1 PM at the Dulles Airport (IAD) or 3 PM at the trip hostel in Harpers Ferry. If you are flying, group transportation from the airport to Harpers Ferry will be arranged for 1 PM. The shuttle ride is about an hour and will deposit you right at the door of the hostel. If you prefer to drive to Harpers Ferry, please plan to arrive at the trip hostel by 3 PM. We will start with introductions and a discussion of all things hiking as well as an overview of our trip. There will be some time to relax and go for a walk while the guides prepare the first of many delicious dinners. We'll head to bed early, anticipating an early morning. Overnight: Harpers Ferry Hostel, Harpers Ferry. D
DAY 2
After a delicious and hearty breakfast, we will have about an hour shuttle to our hiking start at Pen Mar Park near the Pennsylvania and Maryland state line. Hiking southward along the Appalachian Trail on our first leg through Maryland, this part of the trail is mostly forested and has a little of everything: easy flat walking, some rocky ascents and descents, plus occasional great views. We reach 1800 feet a couple of times, including the appropriately named, High Rock. We will take a break at the Raven Rock trail shelter and get a glimpse of through-hikers experience. Then, a few more hills -- down and up and down -- when we emerge from the forest to our pick-up location at Route 77. Tonight (and every night) we'll return to the hostel where our guides prepare a home-cooked meal, designed to replenish our spirits and bodies. Distance: 8.2 miles. Overnight: Harpers Ferry Hostel, Harpers Ferry. B,L,D
DAY 3
Another day on Appalachian Trail! We'll enjoy breakfast before shuttling back to the place we ended the previous day. Today we go back to Foxville Road/Route 77. We start off hiking with a relatively short uphill, then down and back up to a ridge along South Mountain State Park. In fact, we travel in South Mountain State Park for our entire trip through Maryland, with some smaller state parks adjoining along the way. South Mountain was the site of some important Civil War battles and we pass placards that memorialize the struggle at several points along the way. We pass a couple of shelters, which make for nice breaks, and several rocky outcrops that drop off steeply to views of patchwork green farm fields below and the blue hills in the distance. This section has two gorgeous overlooks of the surrounding valleys and mountains at Black Rock and Annapolis Rocks. We finish the day at the AT trailhead parking lot off I-70. Hiking on the AT footbridge that crosses I-70 frequently draws honks and waves from cars passing below and confirms our own inclinations that Hiking is way more fun than driving! After a long and satisfying day, we'll shuttle 'home' for another delicious dinner and a bit of relaxation. Distance: 11 miles. Overnight: Harpers Ferry Hostel, Harpers Ferry. B, L, D
DAY 4
Once again, we return to yesterday's finish to continue hiking south through Marylands forested mountains. It's not every day you hike past a monument to our first president, but today's trek has a stop at the Washington Monument in Washington Monument State Park. Located atop South Mountain, this is the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington -- a stone tower initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827. After admiring the stonework and history, we continue on past the Dahlgren Backpacker campground and through Fox's Gap. We have some more up and down hiking, including a rocky trail down from White Rocks Cliff. We end the day's hike at Gathland State Park, rich with civil war history. It's best known for the imposing War Correspondents Arch, the only monument dedicated to the memory of Civil War correspondents. We're getting pretty close to the end and its a short drive back to our hostel and dinner. Distance: 11.5 miles. Overnight: Harpers Ferry Hostel, Harpers Ferry. B, L, D
DAY 5
After breakfast, we shuttle back to Gathland State Park where we continue our journey across Maryland. Our trail gently slopes up, past the Ed Garvey shelter (a great lunch stop), and onward to the dramatic Weverton Cliffs. Our last views are spectacular from here, as we enjoy a snack looking over the Potomac River and into West Virginia and Virginia. Then it is a short steep downhill to the Potomac River, where the trail follows the historic Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath. Today we hike right into our hostel and rejuvenating showers! After we're cleaned up, we'll drive into nearby Harpers Ferry where we'll have a couple of hours free to explore. We'll have dinner there tonight at a local restaurant, celebrating our adventures along the trail, getting all our 'trail names' straightened out, and perhaps thinking about our next AT opportunity! Distance: 7.5 miles Overnight: Harpers Ferry Hostel, Harpers Ferry. B,L,D
DAY 6
Our hiking isn't over yet! After our last tasty breakfast, we will hike two miles from the hostel to the Maryland state line and footbridge crossing to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in West Virginia. We have completed our grand total of 40.2 miles across Maryland! For those of you driving, you are free to leave any time after 11 AM this morning. For those of you flying out of Dulles, the shuttle will leave the hostel @ 11 AM and you can plan to fly any time after 2:00 PM. B

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  1. Where do we eat?
    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in the hostel. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch. You'll go out for one dinner where you can order off the menu; other nights you'll relax in the hostel and have dinner there.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?
    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?
    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise you'll be sharing a bunkroom with 4 or 5 other women (no one will need to take a top bunk).
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