Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Greyhound Bus: Harpers Ferry WV

First, there is no Greyhound bus service to Harpers Ferry, WV.

However, there is Greyhound bus service near Harper's Ferry WV.

How to Get to Harpers Ferry by Greyhound

Greyhound serves three relatively nearby cities. Greyhound currently serves Hagerstown MD, Fredrick MD and Washington DC. Of these three, it is far easier to get from the Greyhound stations in Washington DC to Harpers Ferry WV. Here's how we did just that for our 2010 section hike from Harper's Ferry WV to Harrrisburg PA.

Arriving at Union Station

Being in the southwest, Greyhound routed us to Washington DC via Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Charlottsville VA. (We'll add posts on their bus stations shortly). This bus stops at Union Station minutes before stopping at the Greyhound station up the street. The Greyhound bus we were on came in behind the U.S. Capitol and entered on the right (north) side of Union Station. The bus goes up a ramp in the rear of Union Station to the second floor deck level. This is were most buses including tour buses arrive and depart from.

After claiming your bags, you proceed east towards the building and the ramp. Follow the crowds down the escalator into Union Station proper. At the bottom of the escalator, you should see McDonalds ($1 value menu offered) to your far left at the north end of the departure area. The MARC departures are at gates one through four (1-4) to your far right and just before the liquor store and the men's room. You likely need to purchase a MARC ticket for the train to Harper's Ferry, so just continue straight ahead and then turn to your right where the ticket counters start. A ticket to Harper's Ferry is currently $11 one-way on the MARC. The Harper's Ferry MARC is an express which skips about a half dozen early stops.

As you're likely early, you might like to back track and locate the exact location of the MARC gates. There is a MARC waiting area just to the right of the gates with a departure video display.

If there's still time and you're hungry, just walk past the liquor store and hang a left. There a series of cafes along the west end of Union Station. Prices are largely the same from eatery to eatery. If you'd like some fresh fruit or bread, just continue south past the bookstore and outside. There are about a dozens stalls on the west porch that offer water, fruit, bread, flowers, and other commuter favorites. This is also the smoking area if you venture much further.

Boarding the Train

Closer to boarding time, head on back to the waiting area. Note that commuters line up just outside the MARC gates and then rush the trains as they open for boarding. Don't feel compelled to join the stampede as there are plenty of seats. Many of these early arrivals are regulars and are competing for seats on the upper deck.

When your train begins boarding follow behind the crowd. We jumped in the first door we found open. You might take a moment and confirm with a commuter that you are in fact on the train to Harper's Ferry. Find a seat on the lower level and get comfortable. (We sat on the left hand river side and it didn't seem to matter. There wasn't much to see on this leg.) Slide your ticket into the metal clip on the top of the seat in front of you. The conductor will be by around departure or just after to check your ticket. Don't be surprised to see a police officer at the far end near the stairs. Its post 9/11 after all. No one searched our pack, but we were given an eyeballing a few times.

Arriving at Harpers Ferry

The train arrives at the foot of Union Street and much of Harper's Ferry business district will be closed.

Lodging & Camping

There are two bed and breakfast inns across the street from the ATC office and the post office is just a few blocks past them on the same side of the street.

If you'd like to stay at the Comfort Inn, then just follow the AT south to the Shenandoah River bridge. The AT heads south at the bottom of Union Street and goes up stone steps past the Catholic Church. Jefferson Rock is along this short section of the AT. Comfort Inn will be just to your right at the bridge. Hikers give the Comfort Inn mixed reviews, so caveat emptor.

If you want somewhere free to stay, then just head back to the train bridge you just rode across and walk back into Maryland. Hang a left on the C&O canal and walk two miles upstream (left) to the Huckleberry Hike & Bike camp. We had it to ourself mid-week. There are several tent areas, a picnic table and a BBQ grill. We found several good trees to hang our hammock from which gave us a nicely framed view of the Potomac River.


  1. Thanks,that was very helpful. my husband, son. and I are going to fly into D.C. do the tourist thing and then take the train to Harperms Ferryand hike for the first time on the AT for about 5 days. Any idea for loop hikes or we were thinking of getting a shuttle from Harper's Ferry to somewhere and ending our trip there. so any input of where to start from would be great. we are moderate backpackers. one last thing...do you know if Union Station has long term lockers to store our carry on luggage or anywhere in Harpers Ferry? Any info is appreciated!

  2. No there are no lockers at Union Station. Its DC and post-9/11 afterall. There is a somewhat expensive luggage storage service there though for about $20+ a bag.

    You could probably hike across MD in 5-days at a rate of 10 miles/day. Start at Penn-Mar and go south. Problem with that is the train gets in late in the afternoon and there's no camping at Penn-Mar. The first legal shelter is several miles south with a small rock climbing section enroute.

    A better choice might be a shuttle near the Dahlgreen backpack camp about 2-3 days walk north of Harpers ferry. The camp ground is just a few hundred yards south of the road crossing. There's also a restaurant at the road. From there you can head south to Gathland SP & a shelter, then down to Garvey shelter or Harpers Ferry. http://www.oldsouthmountaininn.com

    If you want something in between those two, perhaps a shuttle near Ensign Cowell shelter which is just north of a road crossing would be a better starting point. Hiking south would pass by Annapolis rocks, I-70 footbridge, & Washington Monument.

    For loop hikes, head to Garvey shelter & back or head north on AT up to the Virginia heights. You can also hike north and south along the C&O canal. There's a hike & bike camp 2 miles upstream and one around 5-6 miles downstream between train stations.