Loudoun Heights Trail to Split Rock

MODERATE 212 reviews

Loudoun Heights Trail to Split Rock is a 6.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,532 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

rocky

This high ground was occupied by Confederate general John George Walker during the Battle of Harpers Ferry, September 12-September 15, 1862. Loudoun Heights was also the site of a night attack made on January 10, 1864, by Col. John S. Mosby's Rangers against Major Henry A. Cole's 1st Potomac Home Brigade Maryland Volunteer Cavalry. Mosby's attack failed and ended a long run of engagements between Mosby's Rangers and Cole's Cavalry. The Battle of Loudoun Heights was a small cavalry skirmish during the American Civil War between John Mosby's Rangers and Major Henry A. Cole's 1st Potomac Home Brigade Maryland Cavalry on January 9, 1864, in Loudoun County, Virginia. Cole's Cavalry successfully defended a night raid against their camp on Loudoun Heights. The fight was one of the first engagements in which Union forces held their own against Mosby's vaunted partisans.

hiking
31 minutes ago

First time I have hiked this. We hiked directly after hiking the Maryland Heights. Hot day but lots of fun. Around 15 miles in total

11 days ago

nice walk

23 days ago

Just a heads up- the recent rains have not done a lot of damage to these trails, with one exception: the orange blazed trail had a large downed tree right at the start of the large hill, about 3/4 of the way to the blue trail heading towards Loudoun heights. The trail is at best marginally passable. I was able to squeeze through the tree, but it took a considerable amount of effort.

25 days ago

Don't believe the previous review. While I'm off, I switch my hikes between Loudoun and Upper Maryland heights on a daily basis to exercise. Loudoun heights is at best slightly easier than upper Maryland heights, but only if you have the stamina to ascend for a longer period of time, and don't have issues with a significant and longer ascent after you get to the overlook.

1. If you want the trail to be harder, take the Orange trail 3/4 of the way up the mountain. It will be easier than the white trail until about 1/4 mile from where it meets the blue trail, where there is a steep hill.

To find the orange trail on the ascent, look for a section of bushes about 3/4 up that you walk through followed by a right turn. The orange trail will be on your left.

2. If you'd rather go easier, take the AT (white blaze) to the top of the mountain. There will be a sign indicating that Keyes Gap is in 4 mile, with an arrow to the right. Go to the left on the blue blazed trail, which will take you to Split Rock overlook after it merges with the Orange trail and two other lesser overlooks.

Neither trail is easy; upper Maryland heights has a briefly steeper ascent. Loudoun height's ascents are longer. Both are very easy at the top, and after the main overlook, the ascent back to the top before you go back down the mountain is much longer on Loudoun heights than Maryland heights, though it is a little steeper but shorter on Maryland heights.

Personally, I've always had a more difficult time on Loudoun heights than Maryland. That is because of the duration of the ascents.

Hiking times (as of Friday 7/22):
From the parking area to split rock: 56 minutes.

From split rock to the parking area: 47 minutes.

(But remember I've been doing this all summer so I'm used to it.)

from

hiking
25 days ago

It was good, I loved the fact I could pick black berries along the way. It was nice to see the other sides perspective.

hiking
1 month ago

Being so used to the Maryland overlook , the Loudon was so much easier , but does have its peaks where it poses some difficulty. At times, the trail is a little narrow! It wasn't much an issue for me because I was hiking alone, but if the trail ever gets busy --which I'm not sure it has equal amount of foot traffic as the Maryland trail. All views are so worth it! The hike as a whole took me roughly 4 hours, with a few moments where I stopped to get some water and help other hikers find their way! The few streams that do pass through the trail didn't pose any difficulty , however; I'm sure during Rainer months it could be a little more difficult in some portions! Overall, such an amazing hike and I plan on bringing my bestfriend back with me!

hiking
1 month ago

A bit harder than moderate if it’s a hot day. We had a few dogs with us and they struggled. Bring plenty of water as there’s no creeks on the trail for the dogs. Pay the parking fee or you will get hit with a fine. The parking lot gets very busy so getting there before 830 on a busy day is a must. 4.25/5. Worthwhile trail, it’s a shame the highway is there.

hiking
1 month ago

This was definitely more strenuous than we expected. Maybe it was too hot(+100F) and also it's actually 8 miles if you add the distance from parking lot to the bridge.
First uphill part was challenging (not too steep but long) but after that everything was enjoyable. Trekking pole and long pants will be good as you will need to go through narrow trails on top of mountain. The view of Split Rock was rewarding.
We met many thru hikers on the way up, but there was no one as we get off AT. Split Rock was small place and there was no one as we take 30 mins break there, which was good for us.
We met 2 deers and 1 raccoon about 10-3 yards away too.

hiking
1 month ago

The hike is shaded and a little steep. It turned out to be an awesome hike in the woods with plenty of wildlife and a spectacular view of Harpers Ferry at the very end.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a vigorous 6.4 mile hike - if going all the way to Split Rock, taking the AT up and traversing the southerly Loudoun Heights trail in one direction and the northerly trail in the other direction. The Split Rock viewpoint is a very worthy destination and rest spot to enjoy an iconic view of Harpers Ferry, the confluence of the Shenandoah River and the Upper Potomac River, and Maryland Heights to the north. The elevation gain is a modest 1,516 ft. It took us about three hours of hiking time. The sounds of traffic on Rt 340 below are a bit distracting for portions of the trail, but on this post-rain day, the more mellifluous sounds of the roaring, swollen rivers was a nice counterbalance. Don't forget to pay the $10 parking fee (self-pay) in the National Historical Park lot; the rangers are active here.

2 months ago

I love this trail. The terrain is varied and there are some areas that are pretty challenging, especially when muddy. I hike with my German Shepherd and she’s able to handle this trail easily. There are some really narrow spots where I have to pull her off the trail to make room if someone is passing, but that doesn’t happen often. We generally go early in the morning and run into few other hikers. Parking is easy in the lot next to the bridge if you get there early enough, but on sunny weekends or after 10:00 or so it’s hit or miss.

2 months ago

Good workout

hiking
2 months ago

The start of the trail was an easy walk from the parking lot. We took the white, orange and then blue route the way up and saw all three overlooks. The way up is pretty steep at the beginning but definitely doable. Steady downward slope all the way back made it a bit slippery since it just rained all night.

Be advised: The parking lot has a $10 entrance fee but no one was there to collect it so our car had a ticket when we got back.

hiking
2 months ago

I loved this hike. I hit a snag though bc I read the review that said to take the first left, blue. The first left, at the first fork, was red/orange. I stayed on it though, and it was beautiful. So, for me, I parked on 32 as recommended, took the white (AT) to the red at the first fork. After the first fork, the red turned to orange. Then, I hit blue. Coming back, I took the blue to the white and back to the car. 5.14 miles from the car. Beautiful hike, and exhausting and only 5.14 miles! The humidity was high, and there was no breeze!

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked this March 24, 2018, after a small blizzard in the area. It was absolutely magical! There was almost a foot of snow. Beware... this trail gets icy FAST. We had poles and microspikes, and used them most of the hike. The people without spikes looked pretty miserable. This is a steep trail, but offers great views at the end!

hiking
3 months ago

solid hike with my two dogs.prefer the hike to md heights

3 months ago

A great trail.

4 months ago

My ankles are a bit sore, and I have a blister or two, but this hike was awesome! It kicked my butt but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The orange path was pretty rough, kinda steep. A lot of dogs on the path which surprised me. I don’t think my doggo could handle it, but they seemed just fine!

hiking
4 months ago

View from split rock is nice, but otherwise the scenery is meh. Could just be the time of the year though.

4 months ago

This hike is hard enough without a foot + of snow on it. But with the snow, Maryland height's evil stepsister is flat out brutal. I had tried to get up to the overlook during Wednesday's snowstorm, but turned around 3/4 of the way to the top. Today, I noticed someone made it to the top of the mountain, but turned around. So today I carved the path to the overlook.

The overlook at split rock cliff, really all four overlooks were absolutely stunning. I am so glad I fought through the snow to get to them. It was well worth the effort, though I didn't stay too long at any of them as there was a strong wind.

5 months ago

I've been using this hike to gauge my fitness. From the parking lot under the 340 bridge to the overlook, it took me 1:06..

6 months ago

This is a great hike, but the initial ascent is a challenge. Once you are past that, you are fine.

A word of advice: the trail IS well marked. Just don't take the red trail on the way to split rock, take it on the way back. You can continue up on the white blazed Appalachian trail until you come to a fork: you have to go left or right.

Go left. If you go right you will end up at Keys gap way up the road.

Once you go left, the trail is blue blazed, the color signifying it's a trail to an overlook on the Appalachian trail. The trail is easy with a general slow incline downward. A ways down the path the red trail meets the blue trail. Ignore it and keep going straight. There will be some decent overlooks on the left side of the trail. Check them out. Once the blue trail heads sharply downward, you know you are getting close to the overlook.

On the return trip, hit up the red trail on your right. It's MUCH easier and obvious to find on the overlook side than the ascent.

There is no great mystery to hiking this hike. Just follow the white blazes up, turn left at the fork, and follow the blue blazes. It's not hard.

8 months ago

Trail is not marked well. There are plenty of blazes along the trail to mark the path, but knowing which ones to follow is the confusing part. We parked off of Shenandoah Street in the public parking lot (which we found out costs $10 to park in). Our 6 mile hike turned into a 10 mile one as we followed the white blazes on the trees. The trail starts with white blazes, however, apparently you’re supposed to take a left when you see the orange blazes instead of continuing to follow the white ones. We didn’t see any signs to tell you this, nor are there any signs along the trail. Once we did find the correct path, we were very pleased with the view. Now that I know which way to go, I’d do the hike again. It is steep, so don’t be expecting an easy hike.

backpacking
9 months ago

The view from Split Rock is worth the trip. We decided to head out early, before sun up, which afforded us some amazing pics of the sunrise. It had the added bonus having the trail not be busy. The initial ascent is moderately difficult for someone like me who does not hike as much as he would like. The actual orange trail was easy to find at this time and opposed to some other reviews. I'm assuming they corrected the issue. I would warn that about 0.2 miles before the actual orange trail there are several trees off to the left with orange ribbon. I don't know if it serves another purpose, remnants of the original trail, or an unsafe "joke" by some near do well hikers. Hopefully someone will fix that. Also, keep in mind that many trees have lichens on them that can appear like the faded white or blue blazes that are a part of the trail as well. All in all we managed 2.5mph with full packs which I was very happy with and came away with some great pictures.

10 months ago

Overall this hike was nice but not marked very well at all. A 6.6 mile hike turned into 10 because even with gps I got lost and turned around several times. Parked in the lot at Harpers Ferry, had to pay 10.00 for parking. It is a 1.5 to the actual trail. First 1.5 on trail was steep then tapered off. I usually hike Maryland Heights so it was nice getting a different view.

hiking
10 months ago

Wonderful view from Split Rock. Also quite surprised with the two rocks along the trail that look like very out of place along the way to split rock. It was almost as impressive as the view from the top.

hiking
11 months ago

Fun hike with decent views east down the Potomac. Also pick up a little of the Appalachain Trail, it was fun to see the through hikers.

hiking
11 months ago

Fun hike. Enjoyed the walk across the bridge over the Shenandoah and it's also part of the Appalachian Trail. You wind down under the bridge and then start heading up for awhile. It's a good climb but without much to look at. I did it with my chocolate lab and we reached the overlook in about an hour and a half. Great views from up there, a very solid payoff rewarding your efforts.

hiking
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Not my favorite -- terrible bugs. But the overlook is still really neat so I think if you are in the area, it is worth a trek!

hiking
Sunday, August 06, 2017

The overlooks are amazing.

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