Great Day Trips 2011: River Riders

A spectacular zipline canopy tour along the Potomac River

By: Jordan Wright

Photograph courtesy of River Riders

River Riders
408 Alstadts Hill Rd., Harpers Ferry, W. Va. 800-326-7238

Harpers Ferry offers lots of outdoor family fun, from hiking to tubing to whitewater rafting. And now, just outside of town, the outfitter River Riders has unveiled its latest adventure: a spectacular zipline canopy tour along the Potomac River.

For three hours, you can fly through the forest and navigate the jungle-style suspension bridges alongside breathtaking vistas of the river and cliffs. Two guides accompany amateur aerialists to seven giant tower platforms. Try to spot the nest of the resident red-tailed hawk as you soar up to 55 feet. The gravity-defying tour ends in an exhilarating finale as you rappel down to solid ground. If you’ve got more time and energy, River Riders can also set you up on the water: Ply the flatwater in a canoe or kayak, drift in a giant tube, or take on the Class III rapids on a whitewater trip.

Hungry? The on-site Front Porch Cafe, which serves burgers, hot dogs, and other snacks, is your best bet. If you explore Harpers Ferry’s historic district, slide into Scoops Ice Cream Cafe (173 Potomac St.; 304-535-6654) and get your chill fix with 16 flavors of house-made ice cream.

On the drive to Harpers Ferry or back, you can stop in the tiny town of Hillsboro at Stoneybrook Organic Farm and Market (37091 Charlestown Pike; 540-668-9067; closed Saturday), which carries delicious sandwiches and salads, organic produce, artisanal cheeses, and other regional farm products. Get food to go or enjoy lunch on the flagstone patio overlooking the vegetable gardens.

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