Terrain By State: West Virginia
From the north, the Appalachian Trail enters West Virginia at Harpers Ferry by way of a footbridge over the Potomac River. Only about four miles lie in West Virginia proper, passing within just a quarter-mile of ATC headquarters, then crossing the Shenandoah River, ascending the Blue Ridge at Loudoun Heights, and straddling the Virginia-West Virginia border for the next fifteen miles. The Trail also straddles the Virginia-West Virginia border several hundred miles farther south, near the New River.
Harpers Ferry is historic and scenic and is served by Amtrak and commuter trains that run into Washington, D.C. It makes an ideal location to start or end a hike.
Difficulty Ratings for A.T. Sections
Because the A.T. spans a great variety of terrain, ranging from relatively flat and easy, to extremely difficult, the following scale was created as a general guide:
1 = Flat and smooth
2 = Flat terrain but uneven treadway, or slight elevation change
3 = Moderate elevation change, but well graded trail, or flat trail with very rough treadway
4 = Strenuous climbs, but of moderate duration, or short but steep climbs
5 = Lengthy graded climbs, alternating with easier sections
6 = Extended climbs that may last hours or shorter climbs with difficult footing
7 = Includes rock scrambling that is relatively easy and of short duration
8 = Includes rock scrambling that is somewhat challenging
9 = Rock scrambling that is difficult and extended
10 = Use of hands required for extended periods of climbing, footing precarious, and leaping may be required — not recommended for those with fear of heights and not in good physical condition. Shorter hikers may be at a disadvantage