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Sandy Hook in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Exploring Maryland Heights

 
 
Exploring Maryland Heights Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
1. Exploring Maryland Heights Marker
Inscription. 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:
West Slope of Maryland Hights image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
2. West Slope of Maryland Hights
4.7 miles
Time: 3 hours round trip

Be Prepared!
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.
 
Location. 39° 19.732′ N, 77° 43.847′ W. Marker is in Sandy Hook, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is on Sandy Hook Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located at the start of the Maryland Heights trail, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Marker is in this post office area: Knoxville MD 21758, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Naval Battery (approx. mile away); Maryland Heights - Mountain Fortress of Harpers Ferry (approx. mile away); Branding the B&O (approx. 0.3 miles away in West Virginia); Hiking Maryland Heights (approx. 0.3 miles away); Pvt Luke Quinn (approx. 0.3 miles away in West Virginia); Power of the Potomac (approx. 0.3 miles away in West Virginia); Mere Machines of Labor (approx. 0.3 miles away in West Virginia); By the aid of these machines... (approx. 0.3 miles away in West Virginia). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sandy Hook.
 
More about this marker.
Start of the Long, Steep Trail up Maryland Heights image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
3. Start of the Long, Steep Trail up Maryland Heights
In the center of the marker is a painting of "Maryland Heights during the Confederate advance toward Harpers Ferry, June, 1863." In the lower right is a "View of the west slope of Maryland Heights, by George Kaiser, January 1863." It has keyed references to important landmarks on the heights.
 
Regarding Exploring Maryland Heights. This marker is one of a set along the National Park Service's trail to the top of Maryland Heights. You can see the other markers in this set through the Maryland Heights Virtual Tour by Markers link below.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Maryland Heights Virtual Tour by Markers
 
Also see . . .
1. Maryland Heights. National Park Service details about the heights and the hiking trail. (Submitted on January 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Maryland Heights Virtual Tour by Markers. A set of markers relating the history of Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. (Submitted on February 2, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNatural FeaturesWar, US Civil
 
Civil War Fortification Ruins image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
4. Civil War Fortification Ruins
A section of the Exterior Fort at the summit of Maryland Heights.
Civil War Earthworks image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
5. Civil War Earthworks
In many places the trails and the earthworks seem to run straight up the mountain side.
Rock Piles on the Heights image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
6. Rock Piles on the Heights
Rock piles on the heights often are indications of human activity - charcoal hearths, soldier encampments, clearing piles, or fortifications.
View Across the Potomac to Harpers Ferry image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
7. View Across the Potomac to Harpers Ferry
Along the trail, several overlooks afford views of Harpers Ferry and surrounding countryside.
The Potomac River from the Overlook image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
8. The Potomac River from the Overlook
While the hike is demanding, the view from the top is rewarding.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,769 times since then and 48 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week February 3, 2008. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on January 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Picture of boulder into which Civil War era graffiti is carved. • Can you help?
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