Gettysburg National Military Park | HIKING AND BIKING

Hiking trail at Gettysburg National Military Park

Hiking trail at Gettysburg National Military Park

BIKING

There are no bike trails within Gettysburg National Military Park, so biking is done only on the park roads. While many of the roads are lightly traveled by tourists only, others are major city streets where vehicles travel at high speeds.

Road biking at Gettysburg National Military Park

Road biking at Gettysburg National Military Park

HIKING

Despite some of the maps for Gettysburg National Military Park showing numerous trails within the park, there are only a few actual hiking trails, all located on the southern end of the battlefield. These include a trail that goes to the summit of Big Round Top; a trail that circles the base of Big Round Top; a trail that runs along the east side of Little Round Top; and the Bridle Trail, which is open to hikers as well as horseback riders. There is also the Cemetery Ridge Trail, which is really more of a walking route than a hiking trail. It runs between the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and the High Water Mark stop on the Gettysburg Battlefield Tour (Stop 15).

The Big Round Top Trail is a short and moderately steep trail that leads to the summit of Big Round Top. There are no views, only a few Union regimental monuments along the way.

The best hike you can do at Gettysburg National Military Park is the Bridle Trail Loop, a hike that utilizes both the Bridle Trail and the hiking trails that go around the base of Big Round Top and Little Round Top. The hike is roughly seven miles long and the terrain is often hilly. The route passes many historical sites and uses some of the old farm roads that lead up to farmhouses that existed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Nothing much has changed since then, so walking on these really takes you back in time.

The Henry Spangler Farm dirt road is part of the Bridle Trail at Gettysburg National Military Park

The Henry Spangler Farm dirt road is part of the Bridle Trail at Gettysburg National Military Park

Bridle Trail at Gettysburg National Military Park passes through a corn field near Trostle Farm

Bridle Trail at Gettysburg National Military Park passes through a corn field near Trostle Farm

Either while you are planning your trip to Gettysburg National Military Park or during your visit, you might hear about a Billy Yank Trail and a Johnny Reb Trail. These are not actual hiking trails but long walking routes through the battlefield that were put together by the Boy Scouts of America and designed for educational purposes. There is no promotion of either route by the National Park Service. The only way to get the routes is to purchase the Gettysburg Heritage Trail Guide at the book and souvenir store inside the Visitor Center ($2 at the time of this writing). In fact, Rangers won’t even talk about it. Ask and you’ll be told to buy the book.

You don’t have to be a Boy Scout to buy the book or walk the routes, but keep in mind that these are essentially “treasure hunt” trails that follow the park roads. Rarely are you walking on anything but asphalt. At different stops along the route you are asked to find a particular monument and answer questions in the book. You’ll visit most of the destinations if you take the Gettysburg Battlefield Tour in your automobile, but these trails do lead to some places off the beaten path. If you prefer to walk around the battlefield, following the Johnny Reb or Billy Yank trails are better alternatives to simply wandering aimlessly, and if you do both of them, you’ll have seen more of the Gettysburg battlefield than most people.

I did the Johnny Reb Trail, and once I realized what it was, I had no interest in doing the Billy Yank Trail. For your information, the Johnny Reb Trail looks at the battle from the Confederate point of view and the Billy Yank Trail from the Union point of view. Also, the book states that the Johnny Reb Trail is four miles long. However, this does not count the walk back to the starting point, which adds another mile.

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Last updated on October 28, 2022
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