Train to Trail – Harpers Ferry Winter Backpacking Trip – Hiking in Virginia

Join Mike and I for for a “Train to Trail” Winter Camping, Backpacking, Campfire cooking, & Hiking adventure in Harpers Ferry, WV.

We tried something a bit different for fun on this winter camping trip – instead of driving, we decided to take an Amtrak train directly to the trailhead.  This is actually and idea that Mike and I had been kicking around for a while now.  The first challenge was finding an interesting trail that was actually close to a train station, without a need for secondary transportation or an excessive walk.  After a bit of research, we determined that Harpers Ferry, West Virginia fit the criteria quite well.  The train practically dumps you right on the Appalachian Trail.  We booked our tickets, packed our bags, and hit the trail, er, I mean, train station.

With 4 days and 3 nights off, we had a decent amount of time to play with on this trip.  The challenge however, would be that we needed to plan an out and back trip that didn’t put us to far away from the train station on our final morning, rather than doing a loop like we normally prefer.  Fortunately, we quickly realized that to be a perfect excuse to do a a laid back, more camping, less hiking  kind of trip.

The plan?  After leaving the train behind,we would hop on the Appalachian trail for a few miles – just long enough to feel the seclusion of the deep winter woods, and set up a base camp for the duration of the trip.  Other than that, we really had no hard set plans, other than relaxing, having a good time, and brushing up on our campfire cooking skills.  Did we succeed?  I guess you’ll just have to watch and see…

Trailhead:  Harpers Ferry Amtrak Train Station

GPS Data for this trip available on the Trip Data Page.

Harpers Ferry Winter Route Overview Sintax77

Harpers Ferry Winter Route Overview Sintax77

Trails Used
Leave Harpers Ferry via Appalachian Trail South
After around 3 miles, bushwack West to unofficial campsite.
Return via Appalachian Trail North

Notable Gear Used on this Trip by Mike
Gregory Palisade 80 backpack
EMS Down Parka
EMS Ascent Hard shell Jacket
MSR Whisperlite International stove
Dream Hammock Thunderbird Hammock
Hammock Gear Burrow 20 top quilt
Hammock Gear Incubator 20 underquilt
Hammock Gear Cuben Hex Tarp with doors
Portable bluetooth speaker with fancy lightshow
GSI cookset

Notable Gear Used on this Trip by Sintax77
EMS Longtrail 70 backpack (2011 version)
Montbell UL down parka
EMS Ascent Hardshell
MSR Rapidfire stove (see my video on it here) *no longer manufactured – modern equivalent is the MSR Windpro.
MSR Flex Skillet
Dollar Store tongs and turner for cooking
Sea to Summit Alpha Cutlery Set
Fozzils Bowl / Plate
Dream Hammock Darien Hammock
Hammock Gear Burrow 0 top quilt
Hammock Gear Incubator 0 underquilt
Hammock Gear Cuben Hex Tarp (standard model, no doors)
Pocket Chainsaw
SOG Flash I tanto blade pocket knife

Winter Hammock Camping in the Adirondacks

Three days of Winter Hammock Camping and backpacking in the Adirondacks High Peaks Region.

GPS track data for the full trip was recorded using my new Garmin 650 gps unit, and can be found on the Trip Data page, for download in GPX format. (All photos in this post are geo-tagged as well)

Parking Location: At the end of Upperworks Road 44°05’20.6″N 74°03’22.7″W

The Upperworks Trailhead Parking Area

The Upperworks Trailhead Parking Area


Trails Used in Order:

Day 1 (Hike In)

  • Begin at Upperworks Trailhead
  • Calamity Brook Trail
  • Cross frozen Lake Colden towards the Ranger Station
  • (If lake is not frozen, the Algonquin Peak Trail can be taken instead)
  • Take Avalanche Pass Trail to visit Avalanche Lake
  • Reverse course on Avalanche Pass Trail back towards Lake Colden
  • Camp near intersection of Ranger Station Spur Trail and Cold Brook Trail
    Campsite coordinates N44 07.494 W73 58.912
    Mileage Total: 9.16 miles

    Elevation-Winter-ADK-Day-1

    Elevation Profile for Day 1

Trail Junction near Campsite that was chosen.

Trail Junction near Campsite that was chosen.

Day 2 (Above Treeline Excursion)

  • Avalanche Pass Trail
  • Algonquin Trail via Lake Colden
  • Enjoy the views (or summit fog) and head back down towards campsite
    Mileage Total: 4.16 miles

    Elevation Profile for Day 2

    Elevation Profile for Day 2 (Ouch)

Day 3 (Hike Out)

  • Head out across frozen Lake Colden back towards car
  • Calamity Brook Trail
  • End back at Upperworks Trailhead
    Mileage Total: 6.38 miles

    Elevation Profile for Day 3

    Elevation Profile for Day 3

    Returning to the Upperworks Parking area, via Calamity Brook Trail

    Returning to the Upperworks Parking area, via Calamity Brook Trail

    Mileage & Elevation Profile for Full 3 Day Trip

    Mileage & Elevation Profile for Full 3 Day Trip

For a look at my winter gear, check out my Winter Gear List Video. Notable changes: Hammock instead of Kelty Salida 2 Tent, MSR Rapidfire Stove instead of generic upright canister stove, and I picked up another pair of fleece lined hiking pants as an alternative to the backup sleeping pants I used to pack.

 All video content, photos and music are original works by myself, Sintax77.