Close to D.C., passing by ruins of Civil War trenches and forts, and featuring an iconic view of Harpers Ferry, the Maryland Heights Loop is a popular excursion for weekend dayhikers. For trail runners, this 5 mile loop offers a significant, yet runnable, climb and is ideal for multiple repeats. Just arrive early on the weekends, as the parking lot fills fast.
From the parking area on Sandyhook Road start up the green-blazed Combined Trail, passing an 1862 Naval Battery in 0.7 miles. At the next intersection (with informational sign), turn left on the blue-blazed Stone Fort Trail, beginning a steep ascent towards the ridge.
Near the ridge crest, pass through a series of breastworks comprising the exterior and interior forts. From here the Stone Fort Trail turns to the south and passes through the stone fort, with views of the Potomac River to the east. The Stone Fort Trail descends for 1.1 miles to the Combined Trail. Turn left towards the overlook and in 150 yards turn right down the red-blazed Overlook Trail. The main overlook for Harpers Ferry is in 0.3 miles.
After taking in the spectacular view, return to the Combined Trail, then follow it past the intersections with the Stone Fort Trail as it descends back down to Sandyhook Road.