I’ve traveled the C&O Canal towpath many times in the vicinity of Shepherdstown, but until a recent visit to Ferry Hill Plantation, I had no idea that Ferry Hill Trail even existed. Like many trails that end at the C&O, there really aren’t any signs along the towpath leading to it. Likewise, it’s only visible from the canal in late autumn and winter after the leaves are long gone.
Like any path, there is a beginning and end, and Ferry Hill Trail can be reached from either Ferry Hill Plantation or under the Shepherdstown bridge near Lock 38 (mile 72,8). It’s a short hike that takes about fifteen minutes, and from the bottom to the top there are three distinct switchbacks. The trail is fairly steep in places, but I would hesitate to call it difficult because of its short length. Nevertheless, it does lead to several minor precipices that offer a great view of everything below.
The trail is very well-marked, and the sign above indicates a right-hand turn at one of the switchbacks. We were surprised to see the same shade of blue that marks the signs on the Tuscarora Trail, but that’s not terribly important. The journey up the small hill ends pleasantly behind Ferry Hill Plantation, and a walk toward the front reveals a great view of the bridge and Shepherdstown. In all, the trail is well worth the hike and is a great side trip from the C&O Canal.