Mountain Project Map - Harpers Ferry

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

THE LIMITING FACTOR - PARKING

If you haven't been climbing in Harpers Ferry, or done anything in Harpers Ferry, then you won't know that parking is one of the sticking points for access. Whether you are viewing the town, partying in the river, kayaking the rivers, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or climbing, the parking situation is an issue. Carpooling is essential. There is a gravel lot next to the Cindy Dee Restaurant (currently closed) that has been a great place to meet and consolidate into fewer vehicles. With more people wanting to access the gorge this issue isn't going to disappear.

There are currently two issues to be aware of.
They are The Widespot below Loudon Heights and The School Bus Turnaround at the end of Sandy Hook below Elk Ridge.

The Widespot provides access to Loudon Heights, the Frontier, and the New Dawn Boulders. It is a take out point for Kayakers. It is also a favorite party spot for a lot of people. Park Smart and pack out some trash to help keep it clean. The typically drunk partiers that hit the river from this spot are notorious for trashing this area. I have personally gone out onto the rocks and cleaned up trash that would end up in the river during the next flood. There is very little respect shown for our shared natural resources at this location and it is only a matter of time before this access point is a hot spot.

The School Bus Turnaround at the end of Sandy Hook. This little turnaround can be used to access Elk Ridge. There is enough room for 2 full size vehicles to park parallel to the road at the upstream side (see drawing below). If you park anywhere else in that turnaround you risk being ticketed and also irritating the residents of Sandy Hook who use the turnaround all of the time. Please be respectful and stick to the designated spots. We do not want to irritate these folks nor the park service or state/local police. Carpool, Park Smart, and Get There Early on weekends to ensure you will have a spot.
School Bus Turnaround parking

4 comments:

Jonathan said...

What about parking at the beginning of Sandy Hook almost under the 340 bridge where all the kayakers park? Then you could just walk through town down to the trailhead for Balcony. Do you know if that would cause any problems or is that privately owned and you'd need the land owner's permission?

Conrad said...

Jonathan,
That spot is a possiblity though I am less experienced with that spot so I don't know the ins and outs of where to park and where not to park down there. I know that it is used frequently by paddlers and also locals stopping in at the sandy hook grocery. In terms of the private property issue I couldn't say. If you really get in a pinch then drop your party off at Balcony Rock and drive up river to the paved parking lots upstream of the big cliffs. Then hike back to meet your party. I use to do this every time I went climbing b/c the widespot was out of commission for a while with RR construction equipment. It is a long walk but not difficult. If you learn anything about the other area please share with the rest of us.

Jeff said...

The Virginia section of the widespot has recently been posted with no parking signs, which takes away a good bit of parking there. The West Virginia part still just has the "no parking within 10ft of the road" signs up, so you should still be able to park there, at least for now. it might change if all the drunk yahoos come back over the summer. it was completely out of control last summer so the no parking signs are not a surprise.
As for Sandy Hook, the pull off up and to the right, just before the grocery store, is the best place to park. Should have enough room for 4-5 cars, just be careful not to block anybody, it can get a bit tight.

Conrad said...

Thanks Jeff, I knew you'd know the scoop.