Our Trip to Point of Rocks and Harpers Ferry

Top of Sugarloaf Mountain Taking a Break

With a colder start to Spring 2007, Katie and I have not gone on many motorcycle trips. We have gone a number of times around the local area, and I have taken the R1200GS to work a couple times. We have managed to get out to this area twice this season. The first time was a warm weekend in late March with a follow up trip in mid April. I will start from the intersection of Brighton Dam Road and New Hampshire Avenue in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Taking New Hampshire Avenue North, we made a quick left on Sundown Road. The rolling landscape is peaceful and we did not see much traffic. I have not been here during peak commuting time, but for our weekend trips this was great. Sundown Road becomes Brink Road and ends at a stop sign with Fredrick Road (MD 355). At this point, we reached a large accident with police directing traffic. We were standing still for a little while and moved up slowly. I then saw a quick shortcut to route Katie and I away from the incident. Traveling with a GPS is great!

C and O Canal Towpath

Less than quarter of a mile from the intersection of Brink Road and Frederick Road is a left to West Old Baltimore Road. Taking this leads under Interstate 270 and to Black Hill Regional Park on the left. This is a great place to take a short break and walk along the lake or take a short ride on a paddleboat.

From Frederick Road, Katie and I took a left onto Comus Road and crossed under Interstate 270. At the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, there is a five-way intersection configured as a large cirular area. Parked cars are often found around the perimeter. Katie and I would later continue on what would be the first road off to the left called Sugarloaf Mountain Road. This road crosses the five-way intersection. We took a brief ride up the Sugarloaf Mountain and stopped for a short hike around the summit.

Tunnel at Point of Rocks

On our return, we followed the Sugarloaf Mountain Road that turns into Mt. Ephram Road. We then turned right on both Mouth of Monocacy Road and Dickerson Road (MD 28). To stay on MD 28, we turned left at Tuscarora Road. This is an easy intersection to find since there are a large number of birdhouses for sale on this corner. We stayed on MD 28 to Point of Rocks, Maryland. Going straight through town, we turned left just before MD 15 and crossed the train tracks. The portion of the road after the train tracks is not paved, but the road was in pretty good shape. There is also a short wooden bridge that may be slippery in the rain. Here we parked our motorcycles and took a short walk along the C&O Canal towpath. There are two sets of train tracks that run parallel to the towpath, and it is amazing that a tunnel was made through the mountain for one set of tracks.

View of R1200GS and F650GS with Point of Rocks in Background

We got back on our motorcycles and headed across the MD 15 Bridge to Virginia. We took our first right on Lovettsville Road (VA 672) and our first right down to a public boat launch. This is a packed dirt road that appears remarkably free of ruts and erosion. Looking back across the Potomac River, the point of rocks in Point of Rocks can be clearly seen.

We followed VA 672 until it T-intersects with East Broad Way where we turned right. After about a quarter mile, we turned left on South Berlin Turnpike (VA 287). We followed VA 287 for 5.7 miles to make a right on Charles Town Pike (VA 9). From there, we turn right at Harpers Ferry Road (VA 671). At the base of a long downhill section, we reached a T-intersection and turned left on Jefferson Pike (US 340) and followed the Potomac River upstream and into West Virginia. In West Virginia, we followed US 340 until we reached a tight right hand turn on Union Street and though Harpers Ferry.

Pulp Mill for Making Paper

We turned right on Washington Street and headed into historic Harpers Ferry. We saw the Secret Six Tavern and a couple of other good places to stop, but there is no parking on Washington Street. We continued to the base of the hill and followed around to the right where the Visitors Center is located. We did not reach the Visitors Center, but we stopped to look at the ruins of a water powered paper mill. This was quite a massive structure back in the day, and the spaces for five pairs of turbines show the massive enterprise this once was. Unfortunately, this building was destroyed in the flood of 1936 and was not rebuilt.

We then turned around and headed back into town. After we passed Washington Street, we took our next left on Potomac Street. In this area there is a lot of parking available, but it appeared to be quite full. From my earlier trips here, there is a large parking lot available at the Visitors Center and a shuttle bus to bring you back into town.

Stream We Crossed on our R1200GS and F650GS

We followed Potomac Street across the train tracks and were surprised to see a rutted gravel road with plenty of standing water and potholes. Katie, on her F650GS, and I, on a R1200GS, are two of BMW's enduro class of motorcycles, so we decided to give it a try. This single lane road followed the Potomac River and in a section we crossed a small stream. Wahoo!! We had no problems and crossed with no difficulty. After the stream, the road widened enough for us to park our motorcycles and take some pictures. I walked back to the stream we crossed.

R1200GS and F650GS parked along Potomac

From there we continued a little further and in no time we reached pavement once again. We turned on Bakerton Road and crossed under the train tracks. From there we turned left on 340 and headed east back toward home. Our trip home was relatively straightforward, and we stopped for gas at a Shell station. It started to rain and Katie and I got wet. It was a bit cool, but otherwise uneventful. This was Katie's first ride in the rain, and she did a great job. We look forward to riding here again.