Kids love the ferry's five-minute chug across the Potomac, during which
the preposterously overnamed General Jubal A. Early ferry boat is tethered to a
fat metal cable reaching from the Maryland to Virginia side of the river. While
the trip lacks drama, kids appreciate the funky anachronism of the operation. It's
a great way to get from upcounty Maryland to upcounty Virginia, and
vice-versa, without getting drawn into Beltway hassles. Still, the ferry is
best seen not as a destination in itself but as a memorable way to spice up
a trip elsewhere for Virginians visiting Maryland's Sugarloaf
Mountain or Frederick, for instance, or Marylanders headed to Leesburg or
Morven Park. If you like, however, you can treat the ferry as a day-trip itself.
You can pick up the C & O Canal towpath from the Maryland side parking
lot and hike or bike upstream or downstream. The small store on the
Maryland side rents bikes and sells lunch and snacks. If you're interested
in fishing, the store also rents boats and tackle; the area is said to be
good for fishing, thanks to warm water just upstream coming from Dickerson.
by John Kelly and Craig Stoltz
Words to the wise: The ferry is used daily by Virginia and Maryland
commuters, so avoid weekday rush hours
Notes: The accompanying store/rental facility is open from mid-April
through October, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. weekends). Disabled riders probably won't
be able to get out of the car and move around the deck, as most passengers prefer
Nearby: Morven Park, Sugarloaf Mountain, Ball's Bluff Battlefield Park.