Harpers Ferry to Raven Rocks Long Walk

22nd June 2021

21 miles / 3,800 ft ascent / 9 hours

Panorama from summit of Raven Rocks.

A week ago I planned a long walk from home to the David Lesser Memorial shelter, but torrential rain and flash floods curtailed plans that day and I settled for a shorter walk to Keys Gap and back (well, almost…).

So I had unfinished business and wanted to attempt the longer walk again. Lexi suggested I go all the way along the Appalachian Trail to Raven Rocks trail head where she would pick me up, which was a great idea.

It was a 21 mile walk, the furthest I’ve gone since before we lived in Florida (when I did this long run). My knees survived and they felt great until the downhill in the last mile when they started to ache.

The scenery was typical of this area: thick forest punctuated by magnificent vistas from the handful of lookouts. It’s the exact opposite of walking in the UK where you have views from the moment you step out the car (since the mountains are so open there) and it’s just the perspective that changes as the walk progresses.

Here, the views are hidden. You progress through a tunnel of green until you’re surprised by a lookout that reminds you the world exists beyond the trees. The views from Raven Rocks, near the end of this walk, are fabulous.

I set off in the rain around 9.30 am but remembered to take my rain pants this time, so I stayed dry for a little longer. An hour later, with the rain still coming down heavily, I was wet through again, although not quite as wet as the flash flood walk day. The rain persisted until lunchtime, stopping just as I reached the halfway point of the walk at the David Lesser memorial shelter. I dried off, wrung out my socks and chatted with another hiker backpacking this section of the AT.

I enjoyed a dry afternoon along the top of the ridge, passing many thru-hikers, on my way to Raven Rocks.

Fantastic day out!!

Moody skies as I left Harpers Ferry and crossed the 340 bridge on the Appalachian Trail.
Can you spot the white blaze to mark the way? There’s something magical about hiking in the forest in the rain in summer. It’s so verdant and teeming with life. Leaves of all shapes and sizes, and all shades of green, shine in the rain.
Wet and misty at the powerlines break, between Harpers Ferry and Keys Gap.
Keys Gap, 6.5 miles into the walk. Notice the water canisters left by a trail angel for passing thru-hikers.
The David Lesser Memorial Shelter on the AT, where I stopped for lunch and to dry out.
It’s a great shelter and a fine spot for lunch.
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) maintains a lot of the trails and shelters in this area
Leaving the shelter to continue my hike south on the AT.
One of the intermediate lookouts, slightly off the AT, somewhere above Shannondale.
Lichen on bark.
The magnificent Raven Rocks lookout.
All smiles at Raven Rocks lookout. It’s a fantastic spot with an amazing view south towards the Shenandoah.
The best self-portrait I could do without a tripod.
Raven Rocks reflection.

More: Strava route & Instagram photos

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