Flip-Flop Kickoff

April 19-21, 2024 (Fri - Sun)

Celebrating and promoting alternative long-distance hikes starting mid-trail on the Appalachian TrailHarpers Ferry, WV; Bolivar, WV; and Brunswick, MD

About the Flip-Flop Kickoff

Join us for educational workshops and to see off a group of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers who are following the flip-flop route, starting in Harpers Ferry.

Flip Flop Festival 2019

Photo credit: Appalachian Trail Conservancy

This free event is led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and supported by the Trail & Town Alliance of Harpers Ferry & Bolivar, and the towns of Bolivar, WV; Harpers Ferry, WV; and Brunswick, MD.Featuring hiking workshops, a cookout, and a send-off breakfast for flip floppers, the Flip-Flop Kickoff is a fun and educational event in Harpers Ferry, a scenic and historic town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.In previous years, this event was known as the Flip-Flop Festival. We've since changed the name to Flip-Flop Kickoff to better reflect the focus on supporting flip-flop thru-hikers.

What's a Flip-Flop Thru-Hike?

The traditional Appalachian Trail thru-hike starts in Georgia and ends in Maine.But an increasing number of long-distance hikers are innovative enough to hike the 2,200-mile AT by starting in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which is known as the psychological halfway point. After hiking the northern half, they "flip" back to hike the southern half.This alternate route helps conserve the trail and allows hikers to avoid crowds of thru-hikers who start in Georgia.At the Flip-Flop Kickoff, we encourage this alternate itinerary by helping long-distance hikers learn how to prepare for a thru-hike, and celebrating flip-flop thru-hikers who set off from Harpers Ferry that weekend.

Contact Us

Want to ask questions about the festival? Or volunteer to help?Contact us via email: trailandtown[at]historicharpersferry[dot]orgOr on Instagram: @harpersferrytrails

Schedule for 2024

Flip Flop Festival 2019

Photo credit: Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Campground & Shuttle Service

Camping is available at the Brunswick Family Campground and a free shuttle service will be available throughout the weekend for flip-flop hikers and event attendees.Contact the Brunswick Family Campground to reserve a campsite: 301-834-9950.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2024

Open House & State of the Trail with ATC CEO Sandi Marra
- Location: Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), 799 Washington St, Harpers Ferry, WV
- Time: 4:00pm
- Visit ATC headquarters, the "psychological halfway point" of the Trail, and hear about the state of the Trail and updates on the ATC's work from CEO Sandi Marra. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear about plans for the Harpers Ferry Visitor Center and share their thoughts. There will be light refreshments
- Register here
Friday Evening Shuttle from Harpers Ferry to the Brunswick Family Campground
- Pickup: Curtis Church parking lot
- Time: 7:00pm
- This shuttle is run by reservation only. Register here

SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2024

Saturday Morning Shuttle from the Brunswick Family Campground to Harpers Ferry
- Pickup: Brunswick Family Campground
- Time: 8:00am
- This shuttle is run by reservation only. Register here
Morning Meet & Greet with refreshments.
- Location: Interpretive Design Center Pavilion (IDC)
- Time: 9:00am
- Meet fellow flip-flop thru-hikers, past, present and future!
- Register here
Workshops
- Location: Interpretive Design Center (IDC) Pavilion and Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, WV.
- Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
- Details and schedule for the workshops are all on the ATC website
Pack Shakedowns
- Location: IDC Pavilion, Harpers Ferry, WV
- Time: 10:30am - 3:00pm
- Talk with experience backpackers and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club ridgerunners about what's in your pack and what you need and don't need to bring on the trail.
- Register here
Lunch Break
- Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm
- Take a break for lunch! Plan to bring your own lunch and hikers can gather under the IDC pavilion to show off their favorite Trail meals! If you'd like to order ahead from a local restaurant, nearby options include Bolivar Bread for pastries and quick snacks (0.1 mi from ATC) and Kelley Farm Kitchen (0.3 mi from ATC). There are many other amazing options further afield if you feel you'll have time and access to a vehicle.
Saturday Evening Shuttle from Harpers Ferry to the Brunswick Family Campground
- Pickup location: Curtis Church lot
- Pickup time: 5:00pm
- Register here
Evening Cookout
- Location: Brunswick Family Campground, Brunswick, MD.
- Time: 6:00pm
- Share a meal with fellow flip-flop thru-hikers and event attendees at a cookout provided by the town of Brunswick, MD. There will be a shuttle to and from the cookout so folks staying at both the campground and Harpers Ferry can attend.
- Register here
Saturday Night Shuttle from the Brunswick Family Campground to Harpers Ferry
- Pickup location: Brunswick Family Campground
- Pickup time: 8:00pm
- This shuttle run is by reservation only. Register here

SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2024

Flip Flop Festival 2019

Photo credit: Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Sunday Morning Shuttle from the Brunswick Family Campground to Harpers Ferry
- Pickup location: Brunswick Family Campground
- Pickup time: 6:30am
- Register here
Flip-Flop Thru-Hiker Group Photo
- Location: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 799 Washington St., Harpers Ferry, WV
- Time: 7:00am
- 2024 flip-flop thru-hiker? Come take a photo with your fellow class of 2024 hikers!
Breakfast
- Location: Social Hall at Camp Hill-Wesley United Methodist Church, 601 Washington St., Harpers Ferry, WV
- Time: 7:30am - 9:00am
- Enjoy a delicious and hearty breakfast prepared by members of the community. It's free for flip floppers, and a pay-what-you-can donation is asked of community attendees, who are also welcome.
Scenic Sendoff for Flip-Flop Thru-Hikers
- Location: Social Hall at Camp Hill-Wesley United Methodist Church, 601 Washington St.
- Time: 9:00am
- After a sendoff from community members, those who choose can start their flip-flop journey by following a breathtaking route through Harpers Ferry. Laurie "Mountain Laurel" Potteiger will lead the way, passing the town's most scenic vistas. Allow about one hour to walk and take photos along the 3/4 of a mile to the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

Flip Flop Festival 2019

Photo credit: Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Where to Stay and Park

Harpers Ferry is a quaint and historic West Virginia town, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.

This area offers a wealth of fantastic hiking, cycling, rafting, and climbing opportunities, with restaurants, shops, art galleries, indoor and outdoor exhibits, all set close to world-famous historic sites related to the Civil War, African American History, and the explorer Meriwether Lewis.Parking is available on the streets throughout Harpers Ferry and Bolivar (some spots are metered); at the Harpers Ferry Train Station; and at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park's Visitor Center at 171 Shoreline Drive, from where you can catch a shuttle to town. Both the train station and visitor center require a fee to park, which supports the park.While you're here, we hope you'll stay at one of our many local inns and B&Bs, walk on one of our scenic trails, and enjoy a meal at one of our restaurants. Jefferson County's Visitor Center offers ideas for where to stay and eat.

Photos from the 2023 Kickoff