Maryland Appalachian Trail - Pen Mar to Harper's Ferry
41.5-Mile Hike/Run from Pennsylvania to West Virginia on the AT
Elevation Gain:  6262'
April 2, 2016 -  Running the Appalachian Trail Maryland segment from Pennsylvania to West Virginia
has been on my radar for a few years now.  Thanks to the support and companionship of friends from
this neck of the woods the dream finally became reality on a perfect day to run in the mountains.  Long
before the break of dawn Alfonso and Jackie Ong with Julius Garcia picked me up from my hotel near
the Dulles Airport and we headed north to the Pennsylvania state line where the AT crosses at Pen Mar.
There we would meet Paul Encarnacion, Jeff Fiolek, and Gilbert Gray before making the short trek from
the vehicles to the Mason-Dixon line for a border photo op.


Four of us headed out into the dissipating fog in mild 50-degree temps with intermittent misty rain
drops.  The day was forecast to improve as time passed, and it did - gloriously.  The first rocky climb
became sweaty even though we walked much of it.  All of us - Jeff, Paul, Julius, and I were feeling


The first ten miles to where we would reach aid with our support team of Al, Jackie, and Gil went 
quickly.  No one had difficulty negotiating the rocky terrain, and conversation flowed.  It was great
to have support on an adventure like this.  The social rewards of a group endeavor always far outweigh
the physical satisfaction.  

The following nine miles of ridge running took us to the midpoint of the run, where the AT crosses I-70
on a footbridge above Frederick, Maryland.  The sun was emerging and temps were pushing sixty.
Despite breezy conditions the running was most pleasant.  At each stop Al pulled out his palette and 
brushes and quickly rendered an impressive watercolor of whatever local scene moved him in the 
moment.  The beauty of his spontaneous creations was in harmony with the emerging colors of spring
that met us as we dropped off the ridges into the lower elevations and gaps.  The first flowers of
spring were emerging along with some red bud and the always welcome bright budding green of the
trees that signals the retreat of winter.... finally!


Paul and Jeff stopped at the half-way point as Gil took up for the continued journey with Julius and me.
The second half of the trail rolls easily with less rocks to dance with on the trails.  Most of the day
returned me to a time in the mid-Eighties when I regularly ran these ridges on the AT while I was
living in Williamsport, Maryland, at the time.  Old trails are like old friends, and I welcomed my
reunion with the rocks. Revisiting Annapolis Rocks just north of half-way brought back a flood of
memories, overlooking the broad Hagerstown Valley from  the top of South Mountain.  The trail would
soon run into the course used by the perennial JFK 50-mile event, which would spark other memories
of a good time there when I ran the event in 2002.


The JFK 50 route runs through Gathland State Park, finally descending back down to the Potomac River,
across the tracks, finishing the last few miles on the C&O Canal before crossing the river on the
pedestrian bridge into Harper's Ferry - much more enjoyable than running the race!!!  Jackie, Gil,
Julius and I eased in the final miles to extend and relish the feel of a great day.  Meeting with Alfonso 
in the support vehicle we wasted little time before finding a tavern across from the train station to lift 
a beer in celebration of our accomplishment and cameraderie.

I really hated to see the day draw to a close, but felt good about checking off another big item on my
bucket list.  The best part of the day was the friends I shared the effort with.  My confidence is
boosted as I prepare for even more aggressive endeavors in the weeks ahead.




                                                               * * * * * * *

DIRECTIONS:  From Pen Mar, MD, head west on Pen Mar High Rock Rd. (toward Linden Ave.). In .1 mile, turn 
right at Pen-Mar Rd. In .2 mile, turn left at PA 550/Pen-Mar Rd. Go .1 mile to AT.  From Washington Street and Union 
Street in Harpers Ferry, WV, head east on Washington Street for .2 mile to parking on street near Appalachian Trail 
Conservancy. To access AT, head south on blue-blazed trail along College Storer Place for .2 mile.

Mile 0.0 – Parking is at the Pen Mar County Park . If leaving a car overnight you should park in the gravel lot across from the park as the main parking lot is locked each night. The trail begins just to the right of the Overlook Pavilion and A.T. Sign, go 0.3 miles North on the AT, cross the RR Track and then reach the PA Line (Mason Dixon Line). Stop, take a photo. turn around and then head South on the AT, passing Pen Mar Park. Note: If backpacking you could leave your gear at Pen Mar Park and pick it up as you return south.

Mile 3.1 – Side trail to High Rock, supposedly really good views.
Mile 5.3 – Raven Rocks Shelter
Mile 6.2 – MD 491 intersection. Couple of creek crossings near here
Mile 8.8 – MD 77 (Foxville Rd) intersection
Mile 10.0 – Ensign Cowall Shelter

Mile 10.3 – MD 17 (Wolfsville Rd). Short 0.1 mile spur trail to an AT to parking lot, 10-12 cars. Cross Wolfsville Rd to continue.
Mile 15.6 – Reach a couple of unmarked trails to Black Rock Cliffs in about 5.3 miles. Trail is pretty short to the cliffs.
Mile 16.6 – Reach spur trail for Annapolis Rocks. 0.25 miles to the Rocks.
Mile 18.3 – Pine Knob Shelter

Mile 18.9 – I-70 AT Footbridge and spur trail to I-70/Rt 40 Parking Lot, 40 cars
Mile 19.0 – Boonsboro Mountain Rd, 1st crossing.
Mile 19.7 – Boonsboro Mountain Rd, 2nd crossing.
Mile 21.9 – Pass through Washington Monument Parking lot. Note: Coming south before parking lot is a spur trail to the Monument.
Mile 23.7 – Turners Gap (Alt US 40, Old National Pike). Parking is directly across road on the east side of the Inn closest to the AT
Mile 24.0 – Dahlgren Backpack Campground. Privy and hot shower.
Mile 24.8 – Reno Monument Rd.
Mile 25.7 – Rocky Run Shelter
Mile 26.2 – Lamb's Knoll Rd
Mile 27.9 – White Rock Cliffs
Mile 30.7 – Crampton Gap Shelter

Mile 31.1 – Crampton Gap/Gathland State Park Continue on the AT by crossing Gapland Rd.
Mile 34.9 – Ed Garvey Shelter.
Mile 37.0 – Weaverton Cliffs Spur Trail.
Mile 38.1 – Route 340 Underpass.
Mile 38.4 – Railroad Crossing, turn right at C&O Canal Towpath
Mile 40.0 – Sandy Hook, Rt 340 Underpass
Mile 41.2 – Middle of Goodloe Byron footbridge into Harpers Ferry, WV.
Mile 41.5 – Train Station parking lot (small fee).