• DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2000)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationWV
  • Length136 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Washington Heritage Trail, Inc.
Statewide Byway Partners
West Virginia Department of Transportation
West Virginia Tourism
From a high vantage point
Steve Shaluta Photo


Have you ever wanted to follow in the footsteps of George Washington? The Washington Heritage Trail was established for that exact reason, and it does a wonderful job. This National Scenic Byway is a true gem of West Virginia and can offer so much to those who visit. There are recreational activities, historical sites and landmarks, and places to just sit and take in the natural beauty of the area.

Local Byway Partners
  • Martinsburg-Berkeley Convention & Visitors Bureau

Story of the Byway

Located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, the Washington Heritage Trail gives visitors the chance to follow the footsteps of George Washington. This 136-mile-long National Scenic Byway runs along the Potomac River and passes through three counties and multiple historic districts. History can be found throughout the entirety of the Byway, which includes five beautiful towns that still have architecture from the 18th century. There are also plenty of chances for visitors to experience outdoor recreation and relaxation with some beautiful views of the historic Potomac River. Whether you are a history buff or a nature lover, there is something for everybody along the Washington Heritage Trail.

The beauty of the area that the Washington Heritage Trail covers is truly second to none and cannot be overshadowed by the history along the Byway. Located within the loop of the trail, Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area has recreation galore for visitors. These 23,000 acres of land has so many opportunities for visitors including hiking, fishing, and the main attraction, hunting. There are white tail deer, wild turkey, squirrels, and much more located within the Wildlife Area. Other than the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Area, there are a myriad of parks and other scenic areas for visitors to stop at and take in the beautiful views of the area. If visitors want to combine the beautiful nature with some history, they can stop by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. This Park combines the beautiful views of historic Harpers Ferry with architecture that has been restored to their condition when they were created in 1859. There is a lot of opportunity for visitors to experience the nature of the area in one of the many parks or wildlife areas that are located along the Washington Heritage Trail.

The history of the area is truly second to none, with the Byway being created for the purpose of putting visitors in George Washington’s shoes. George Washington’s first elected position was to represent this exact area in the Virginia House of Burgesses, so his presence along this Byway is clear and can be found just about anywhere. It was here that Washington also defended during the French and Indian War, where he gained respect leading into the Revolutionary War. Visitors can also take a trip to the nation’s first spa in Berkeley Springs which George Washington always traveled to “take the waters”. When Washington was president, he selected Harpers Ferry as the nation’s first federal armory, which can still be found today.

If you are looking to take in the beautiful scenes and fascinating history of one our nation’s biggest heroes, this Byway is perfect for you. The Washington Heritage Trail has something for everybody and can be appreciated by all. Families can take this as a weekend or multi-day trip in order to take in everything that this Byway has to offer. The history combined with the beautiful nature truly makes this Byway a must for anyone who wants to learn more about our nation’s past.

Driving Directions

The Washington Heritage Trail runs right along the Potomac for a majority of its route along WV9 and WV480. It then looks back around from Harper's Ferry on WV51 and brings you back to Berkeley Springs.

Points of Interest

  • Harper's Ferry National Historic Park

    Conserved architecture of these original buildings from 1859 highlight the area. There are also multiple museums within the area that visitors can enjoy.

  • Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area

    23,000 acres of protected land that has plenty of outdoor recreation available. Hunting, Fishing, and Hiking are all available for visitors.

  • George Washington's Bathtub

    Visitors can stop by the nation's only outdoor monument dedicated to presidential bathing can be found here.


  • Take a Trip in Washington's Shoes

    Starting in Paw Paw and heading east along SR 51, you can begin your journey along the Washington Heritage Trail, which is known for its natural beauty in addition to its historical significance to our Nation’s first President. After being on the Trail for about 10 to 15 miles, you will then take SR 9 north for a large portion of the trip.

    You will begin to see the Potomac River on multiple different portions of this road, but your best option to experience it would be to stop along Berkeley Springs. Here you can stop by the Widmer Wildlife Management Area that is located right along the river. There are hiking and walking trails throughout this area as well that you can stop by to view this historic river. Next up on your journey will be Martinsburg when you keep heading west along SR 9. There are many historical sites that can be found here, including the B&O Roundhouse and Station Complex, the Belle Boyd House, and General Adam Stephen House.

    The road branches off to SR 480 from there and continues east before reaching the state border and heading south on SR 230. After you head south, the next location to stop at will be Charles Town. This local town has plenty of shops and restaurants that are perfect to stop at as you get ready for the last leg of your journey.

    You can then head west on SR 51 and view the natural beauty of the area while stopping by some of the local towns on the way. You will drive through Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area at the end of your trip, and can camp out to experience the beautiful nature firsthand!

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