Favorite Battlefield Hikes

George Thomas

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To all the battlefield trampers out there, I'd love to hear about your favorite battlefield hiking trails. A perfect day for me is to find a central place to park and then plan a loop that keeps me out on the field all day. I take water/provisions and try to avoid moving the car if possible. I have done this at Gettysburg (many times), Bull Run, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and North Anna, but it would be great to hear about your favorite trails. I recently explored the trails on Ramseur's Hill, part of the Fisher's Hill battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley. Here is the view looking towards Signal Knob.

20170602_Ramseur Hill to Signal Knob.jpg
 

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bdtex

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Of the places I have been to so far,that would be Port Hudson and Gaines' Mill. There is no driving tour of those battlefields. If you wanna see the Battlefield,you have to park and walk. Go there on a weekday during certain months and chances are you will be the only one there.
 

mofederal

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I would say Pea Ridge first, as it was a huge route and travel through woods and fields. Next I would say Gettysburg Little Round Top is pretty steep. We nixed the Big Round Top idea rather quickly after that. I enjoyed the Pickett's Charge hike also, but the terrain is somewhat difficult after Little Round Top wore us out.
 
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To all the battlefield trampers out there, I'd love to hear about your favorite battlefield hiking trails. A perfect day for me is to find a central place to park and then plan a loop that keeps me out on the field all day. I take water/provisions and try to avoid moving the car if possible. I have done this at Gettysburg (many times), Bull Run, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and North Anna, but it would be great to hear about your favorite trails. I recently explored the trails on Ramseur's Hill, part of the Fisher's Hill battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley. Here is the view looking towards Signal Knob.

View attachment 155463
My first choice would be at Spotsylvania, a combination of Upton's approach march and around the circumference of the Muleshoe. Next would be Gordon's flank march through the woods at the Wilderness near Saunders field.
 

chucksr

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"I would say Pea Ridge first, as it was a huge route and travel through woods and fields."

I will second that hike, Pea Ridge has, thankfully, been kept fairly free of roads and monuments and if you are up to walking hill and gully you can get a real feel of that battlefield and I've never been there when there were more than six or seven people about.
Shiloh is another very good walking battlefield--few visitors and well marked so you can follow the action if you are familiar with the battle.
The very south end of Gettysburg--to the south west of Little Roundtop/Farnsworth Field area to Seminary Ridge is a good hike--again, with not very many monuments and fellow hikers.
Chickamauga is vast and it's hard to cover on foot particularly those east side areas of conflict. But, it is certainly worth the effort to see it from both the Confederate view point and the Union.
 

George Thomas

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Hi LtRusell,
Yes, the Wilderness is tough terrain. I discovered, however, that one can do a big loop there, although it is not apparent from the park service maps. You can take the Federal Line Trail from the picnic area along Hill-Ewell Drive. It ends at the Orange Plank Road near the parking areas for tour stop 7 (Longstreet wounding). In the woods behind tour stop 7, there is a trail that runs parallel to the Orange Plank Road and ends at the driveway for the Fawn Lake development. I then crossed over the Orange Plank Rd. and walked up Hill-Ewell drive, visiting the small loop trails along the way (Widow Tapp, Chewning Farm, Higgerson Farm ruins). The view from the Chewning Farm site is great. Looks like one could pick up part of the old road to Parker's store from there, but I didn't try it -- maybe next time! There are many well preserved earthworks along the Federal line trail.
 

LtRusell

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Hi LtRusell,
Yes, the Wilderness is tough terrain. I discovered, however, that one can do a big loop there, although it is not apparent from the park service maps. You can take the Federal Line Trail from the picnic area along Hill-Ewell Drive. It ends at the Orange Plank Road near the parking areas for tour stop 7 (Longstreet wounding). In the woods behind tour stop 7, there is a trail that runs parallel to the Orange Plank Road and ends at the driveway for the Fawn Lake development. I then crossed over the Orange Plank Rd. and walked up Hill-Ewell drive, visiting the small loop trails along the way (Widow Tapp, Chewning Farm, Higgerson Farm ruins). The view from the Chewning Farm site is great. Looks like one could pick up part of the old road to Parker's store from there, but I didn't try it -- maybe next time! There are many well preserved earthworks along the Federal line trail.
See? I get the map and read it after! Of course I was 12 or 13 so it was sorta fun. Next time I'm up that way I'll check that trail out. Thanks for the tip. I generally dress better now you know.
 

Andrew

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Aug 5, 2015
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Northern Virginia
My favorite is the Second Manassas trail. It's a 6 or 7 mile loop that is never crowded and very peaceful. It's an escape from the suburban sprawl of Northern Virginia. You can park at the Brawner Farm lot (new-ish, clean restrooms) and connect to the loop from there. It takes you through fields, meadows, woods, across a stream or two, up and down hills (but nothing too strenuous) and the Visitor Center. My dogs both rate the trail 5 out of 5 bones.
 

Yankeedave

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Gettysburg of course. Any more and it's like going to talk to an old friend. Antietam can be real quiet. I spent some time in northern georgia and grew to love Chicamauga and Stones River. Cross Keys in the Shenandoah Valley is a quiet spot too. There is a little church you can park at and hike from there.
 

kel1985

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Pittsburgh, Pa.
My favorites over the years...
Antietam- the cornfield trail, also Roulette Farm to Sunken Lane (as the Irish Brigade marched)
Gettysburg- Willoughby Run to Oak Ridge, Seminary Ridge along the Confederate Line, the Wheatfield up to Stony Hill, Devil's Den up to Big Round Top.
Chancellorsville- the Chancellorsville History Trail (just not on a muggy July day!), a fun ride on a motorcycle is Jackson's Flank March...I just wasn't motivated enough to walk that far lol
Wilderness- Gordon's Flank Attack Trail, Saunder's Field up to the Confederate line puts things in perspective
Spotsylvania- Upton's Charge, and from the Landrum House (I think it was) to the Bloody Angle
Fredericksburg- From Meade's Pyramid up to Jackson's line, and from where the Irish Brigade landed up to the sunken road.
Manassas- I walked from Jackson's Line to Henry House, down to Stone House and up to Matthew's Hill...watch for ticks!
 
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My favorites over the years...
Antietam- the cornfield trail, also Roulette Farm to Sunken Lane (as the Irish Brigade marched)
Gettysburg- Willoughby Run to Oak Ridge, Seminary Ridge along the Confederate Line, the Wheatfield up to Stony Hill, Devil's Den up to Big Round Top.
Chancellorsville- the Chancellorsville History Trail (just not on a muggy July day!), a fun ride on a motorcycle is Jackson's Flank March...I just wasn't motivated enough to walk that far lol
Wilderness- Gordon's Flank Attack Trail, Saunder's Field up to the Confederate line puts things in perspective
Spotsylvania- Upton's Charge, and from the Landrum House (I think it was) to the Bloody Angle
Fredericksburg- From Meade's Pyramid up to Jackson's line, and from where the Irish Brigade landed up to the sunken road.
Manassas- I walked from Jackson's Line to Henry House, down to Stone House and up to Matthew's Hill...watch for ticks!
You want a "fun" hike at Fredericksburg, just hike up the path to Lee's hill. Next time, I want a golf cart.
 

George Thomas

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Greater Boston (MA) area
My favorite is the Second Manassas trail. It's a 6 or 7 mile loop that is never crowded and very peaceful. It's an escape from the suburban sprawl of Northern Virginia. You can park at the Brawner Farm lot (new-ish, clean restrooms) and connect to the loop from there. It takes you through fields, meadows, woods, across a stream or two, up and down hills (but nothing too strenuous) and the Visitor Center. My dogs both rate the trail 5 out of 5 bones.
Yes, Manassas has some wonderful trails, and I really like starting at the Brawner Farm too. I also find the Portici area very peaceful, despite its proximity to the interstate highway! I have attached below a photo from the Ball cemetery looking up the ridge to where the Portici house was located.

I have been meaning to go back and follow more of the bridle trails, not just the trails marked for hiking. The bridle trails seem to go even further off the beaten path.

Brawner Farm:

20161227_Brawner Farm.jpg


Near 14th Brooklyn Monument at sunset, looking towards Lucinda Dogan house:

20161230_14th Brooklyn.jpg


Ball Cemetery, looking towards Portici:

20161229_Ball Cemetery.jpg
 

George Thomas

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Gettysburg of course. Any more and it's like going to talk to an old friend. Antietam can be real quiet. I spent some time in northern georgia and grew to love Chicamauga and Stones River. Cross Keys in the Shenandoah Valley is a quiet spot too. There is a little church you can park at and hike from there.
Well said! Gettysburg is like an old friend, although one that always has something new to say. The restoration of Lee's Headquarter's property was magnificent. It really ties the property to the first day's fighting at the railroad cut in a way that was difficult to appreciate before. Thanks for the tip on Cross Keys, I will add it to my list.

20161126_Lee's Headquarters.jpg
 

George Thomas

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Greater Boston (MA) area
My favorites over the years...
Antietam- the cornfield trail, also Roulette Farm to Sunken Lane (as the Irish Brigade marched)
Gettysburg- Willoughby Run to Oak Ridge, Seminary Ridge along the Confederate Line, the Wheatfield up to Stony Hill, Devil's Den up to Big Round Top.
Chancellorsville- the Chancellorsville History Trail (just not on a muggy July day!), a fun ride on a motorcycle is Jackson's Flank March...I just wasn't motivated enough to walk that far lol
Wilderness- Gordon's Flank Attack Trail, Saunder's Field up to the Confederate line puts things in perspective
Spotsylvania- Upton's Charge, and from the Landrum House (I think it was) to the Bloody Angle
Fredericksburg- From Meade's Pyramid up to Jackson's line, and from where the Irish Brigade landed up to the sunken road.
Manassas- I walked from Jackson's Line to Henry House, down to Stone House and up to Matthew's Hill...watch for ticks!
Funny you should mention the Jackson Flank Attack Trail. I'd love to figure out a way to make the complete loop on foot. That is, follow the east and west portions of the trail, then find a way north across Rt. 3, then east back towards the visitor center and the History Trail. Currently the west portion of the trail just ends in the middle of nowhere, so you either have to have access to two cars or just reverse course. I love the Chancellorsville field (photo of Hazel Grove looking to Fairview below) but it is just so broken up by the highways that it is difficult to do on foot.

20160816_Hazel Grove.jpg
 

Yankeedave

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Colorado
Yes, Manassas has some wonderful trails, and I really like starting at the Brawner Farm too. I also find the Portici area very peaceful, despite its proximity to the interstate highway! I have attached below a photo from the Ball cemetery looking up the ridge to where the Portici house was located.

I have been meaning to go back and follow more of the bridle trails, not just the trails marked for hiking. The bridle trails seem to go even further off the beaten path.

Brawner Farm:

View attachment 156613

Near 14th Brooklyn Monument at sunset, looking towards Lucinda Dogan house:

View attachment 156614

Ball Cemetery, looking towards Portici:

View attachment 156615
Second Bull Run is also a good one. I was going to mention it but others had. but looking at the pics i had to mention it. Brawners Farm is a good spot.
 

DixieRifles

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Mar 22, 2009
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Collierville, TN
IMG_5010.JPG
By hiking, Im assuming you meN covering a lot of ground, say 3+ miles. Ive only Hiked one site: Fort Pillow, TN.
Ive been on an NPS tour of Shiloh off the beaten path that civered some rough terrain. Ive also toured Lookout Mountain's Western slope -- which borders on dangerous with all the rocks.

My last hike at Ft Pillow covered 6.4 miles. Ive discovered some nice trails that cut thru some cool woods. Nice bluff views.
 


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