Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
276.00 ft (84.12 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

John Brown Farm is a New York state historic site worthy of a visit on its own merits. The trails, both relaxing and beautiful, are made even better when you get yourself oriented to a little history. 

John Brown was a fierce abolitionist who led a raid against a federal armory in Harper's Ferry, which at the time was part of Virginia. His goal: Start an armed slave revolt and end slavery. The raid failed. Brown was caught, charged with treason against the state of Virginia, found guilty, and hung. His death turned him into a martyr and essentially primed the engine for the Civil War. Brown's noble and valiant efforts deserve gratitude and admiration as you experience your own sense of freedom on the friendly trails.

If that isn't enough, the site is perched on top of the hill that features the ski jump site for the 1980 Winter Olympics (the "Miracle on Ice" Winter Olympics). In other words, this is quite likely the most patriotic trail run in the United States.

For a gentle 3-mile run that rolls you around the property, park in the meadow near the trail sign. Head north on the Ski Jump Trail; for orientation, the homestead's barn is south of the parking area. The Ski Jump Trail arcs across the meadow, and you'll quickly see the reason for the trail's moniker. The fabricated monolith protrudes up from the horizon line, dwarfing the trees. The trail soon descends into a forested area and concludes at the reflective pond at John Brown Farm's outbuildings.

At the pond, go left onto the Potato Fields Loop. This loop is indicated with orange hash marks. There aren't many though, and due to the number of unmarked trails, it's fairly easy to forget to turn certain junctions. Hint: Turn right at the first junction. After that, stay straight until you've gone just under 2 miles. When you see the backside of a trail sign at the junction, turn left, and it will lead back to the barn. If you end up on an unmarked trail, don't worry. You'll simply get dropped into another portion of the Potato Fields Loop, but it does feel rather disorienting.

Make your way back to the parking area by following the road for about 100 yards or so. Overall, the trail is gentle with easy footing and mulched in many areas. Cross-country skiing is allowed in the winter. It's a popular dog-walking trail for locals. It's particularly pleasant to experience the meadow with its tall grasses in stark contrast to the sounds, scent, and feel of being in the woods.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall
Winter

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Good for beginners. Easy footing. Meadow and forest.

Cons

Not challenging. Buggy in summer.

Trailhead Elevation

1,726.00 ft (526.08 m)

Highest point

1,852.00 ft (564.49 m)

Net Elevation Gain

170.00 ft (51.82 m)

Features

Wildlife
Bird watching
Wildflowers
Family friendly
Vault toilet

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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