Top 3 Battlefield Hikes

Close your eyes and hear the bullets fly: These three routes pass through parks drenched in United States military history.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
Close your eyes and hear the bullets fly: These three routes pass through parks drenched in United States military history.

Hudson Highlands State Park, NY | Big Hole National Battlefield, MT | Gettysburg National Military Park, PA

HUDSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK, NY

Trace the Revolutionary War.

In 1777, the British Army launched an offensive to gain control of the strategically critical Hudson River. Known as the British Northern Campaign, it was a major turning point in the war: The Redcoats lost, and their general, John Burgoyne, surrendered. There's no better view of the historic Hudson River Valley site than from atop 1,610-foot Mt. Beacon, the highest point in the Hudson Highlands. The mountain's name derives from its war-era role: It was used to signal to George Washington–at his headquarters across the river in Newburgh–if the Brits were advancing up the river. Pick up the white-blazed Breakneck Ridge Trail a quarter-mile past the Breakneck Metro-North train station and return via the Breakneck Bypass to the Wilkinson Trail for a strenuous, 9.6-mile day.

Reload

Warm up with a hot buttered rum-flavored cocoa at The Muddy Cup. (845) 440-8855

The Way

Take Metro-North's Hudson Valley line (weekends only) to Breakneck Ridge Station. Or take Taconic St. Pky. to I-84 W, exit at NY 9D, and go two miles to a parking area.

Hudson Highlands State Park, NY | Big Hole National Battlefield, MT | Gettysburg National Military Park, PA

BIG HOLE NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD, MT

Hike where Chief Joseph fought.

When a band of Nez Perce famously resisted confinement on a reservation in the late 1800s, Chief Joseph shepherded them across 1,200 miles of rugged backcountry to evade the U.S. military. The 1,170-mile Nez Perce National Historic Trail memorializes their journey from Oregon through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana (they were stopped just shy of the Canadian border). Hike to Big Hole, the site of their narrowest escape, in southwest Montana on a 10-mile segment of the NPNHT through lodgepole pines to the meadow where the refugees camped in August 1877. Colonel John Gibbon's troops surprise attacked at dawn the following day, killing nearly 100 men, women, and children. The Nez Perce launched a fierce counter-offensive before fleeing southeast through Yellowstone National Park.

Reload

Soak your bones in Jackson Hot Springs ($5 per person). (406) 834-3151

The Way

From Wisdom, drive 18 miles west on MT 43. Pass the battlefield on the way to the Trail Creek turnout (FS #106). Follow signs a quarter-mile to the Nez Perce Trail.

Hudson Highlands State Park, NY | Big Hole National Battlefield, MT | Gettysburg National Military Park, PA

GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK, PA

Trek our most famous battleground.

From the pastoral Billy Yank Trail, winding 10 miles through sleepy central Pennsylvania, everything looks peaceful. It seems impossible that, in 1863, 170,000 soldiers marched into battle here in the biggest (and bloodiest) confrontation ever recorded in the Western hemisphere. From Cemetery Ridge, walk three miles through cannon-flanked fields before arriving at the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield, sites seized by Confederates on the second day of fighting. From here, you'll head into the woods to the granite labyrinth of Devils Den, where snipers shot so many soldiers that the nearby creek ran red with blood. Continue along Seminary Ridge to monuments to Mississippi, Florida, and Virginia soldiers. From the Virginia memorial, follow the path of Pickett's Charge, the last rebel offensive, back to Cemetery Ridge, where the Union held off the charge, sending General Robert E. Lee back to Virginia.

Reload

Go for the barbecue pork spareribs at General Pickett's Buffets in Gettysburg. (717) 334-7580

The Way

From Gettysburg, head one mile south on Baltimore St. to the park entrance.