Hike / 9.3 miles / 1,443 ft ascent / 3 hours 18 minutes
Some photos from the Loudoun Heights loop hike that Lexi and I did in April. Amazingly we had snow flurries on the second half of the walk.
Instead of returning to Harpers Ferry back the same way, we decided to take the old path off the back of Loudoun Heights and then cross the 340 to the canal towpath. This was the first time I’d done this route. It’ll make for a nice shortcut on the Three Peaks hike.
Bike / 46.8 miles / 123 ft ascent / 6 hours 29 minutes
My eldest son Dominic joined me for the first 7 miles to Brunswick, our longest ride together. We had a blast along the canal and he did great. One thing to keep in mind when cycling with young children is that they’re prone to stop suddenly, when they spot something interesting. Be ready to hit the brakes yourself! 😉
Lexi picked Dominic up in Brunswick and I continued along the canal. I had another 40 miles to go to reach the Lockhouse.
Just beyond Brunswick is Little Catoctin Creek, which was heavily flooded after all the recent rain. I thought about attempting to cross, but quickly decided against it. The trail dips down quite far — I’m sure the water would have been waist deep or more in the middle.
Luckily I met another cyclist here, who had bypassed the flooded trail by way of the railway lines earlier in the day. He reassured me it was an easy detour. There was a train already on the far line, but the near line was clear, so we climbed the embankment and proceeded on foot down the lines until we could rejoin the canal towpath on the other side. I backtracked to help a mother/daughter team — on a multi-day tour — get past this point.
I cycled with my fellow rail-bridge-biker for the next few miles, chatting about our mutual appreciation of the canal and the bike touring.
Monocacy Aqueduct was next, 21 miles into the ride:
The next 15 miles were lovely and quiet. Mile after mile of towpath, meandering through the trees with the canal on my left and the river to my right.
I passed Seneca Creek Aqueduct around 41 miles into the ride:
Six miles later I reached Lockhouse 21, Swains lockhouse, where I finished my ride. I met up with Lexi and the boys, and tucked hungrily into the pizza that Lexi brought. We were originally planning to stay the night in the lockhouse, but had to return home instead on this occasion. We’ll be back though.
All in all, a great day’s riding along the canal. Particularly the first 7 miles with Dominic. I was really proud of how well he did.
Hike / 23 miles / 4,160 ft. ascent / 11 hours 21 minutes
Twelve of us met in Harpers Ferry at 8 am Sunday morning for a long hike south on the Appalachian Trail to Bear Chase brewery.
Lexi backtracked into town to retrieve one of the group who missed the start, so we formed a sub-group at the back.
We were all keen as mustard setting off and set a good pace up Loudoun Heights (1 hour to the junction, including all the backtracking). From there we continued south along the A.T. past the Harpers Ferry park boundary, past the power line break, and onto Keys Gap.
We stopped for lunch at the David Lesser shelter, probably an hour behind the lead group by now. We had hoped to catch up over the day, but we’d lost another half hour before Keys Gap searching for Mike’s phone (in his bag! 🤣).
The big milestone in the second half of the walk was Raven Rocks, around the 18 mile mark. The trail starts to undulate again in the couple of miles before and I think everyone was starting to feel the effects of the previous 15 miles. I lent my poles to Lexi to help her manage a niggle in her knee.
Lexi opted to finish at Raven Rocks trailhead at mile 20, where she met our support crew and headed over to Bear Chase brewery in the car. I’ve stopped here twice before too, once on my own and once with Pete.
Jacob and I wanted to walk the last few miles to a final lookout at Bear’s Den, before walking to the finish line at the brewery.
The evening light was beautiful for the final climb up to Bear’s Den. There was no one on the trail, but quite a lot of people at the lookout, since you can drive in from the other side.
It was cold and windy at the lookout so we didn’t hang around. We were both pretty tired and eager to get to Bear Chase brewery for some food.
What a day! This is a wonderful hike and it was fun to experience it with Lexi and friends.
Recap post of significant hikes this winter season. It was a great winter hiking season!
We had less snow this year overall than last year, but we had a period of very cold weather through January and February, so that I wore the traction spikes on most of my walks (compared to only once last year).
I extended my usual walk by tagging the park boundary sign. It snowed during the walk, which is always a fun experience. As I walked home through town, I saw a car that had slid off the road into the fence and narrowly avoided dropping further down into the stream bed. Yikes!
The most scenic walk of this season. A surprise late season snowstorm dumped a few inches of heavy snow on Saturday. A cold night ensured it was still all there the next day. It coated everything. Stunning!
This is a long walk along the Appalachian Trail, from Harpers Ferry to Raven Rocks trailhead, passing Keys Gap along the way.
About half of the height gain occurs on the climb up Loudoun Heights on the way out of Harpers Ferry, then the rest of the walk is mostly flat along the ridge until it gets lumpy again near to Raven Rocks.
The lookout at Raven Rocks is outstanding!
I’ve done this walk once before, on my own earlier this year. This time it was fun to share the trail with Pete and show him one of our classic backyard hikes.