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Gettysburg NMP, PA Day Hike

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This 8.5 mile mostly circuit day hike took place on Saturday, January 8, 2005. Participants were Charlie Johnson, his granson Daryl, Bill Isham, his granddaughter Madelyn and myself.

The ranger suggested at the beginning that I hike on the roads in the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park, PA. He didn't say why but I was determined to hike the 8 mile circuit bridle trail that took in the major battles of the park. The trail had changed from the early 1990's 50 Hikes in Eastern PA book that I had. I did a recon in December, 2004 so that I knew where the trail was and how to plan for it. Everything seemed to fall into place for this hike except for one thing: the weather.

It rained hard that Friday night before the hike and into Saturday morning. It was a cold rain. The type that you didn't want to hike in unless you had to. So I drove up to Gettysburg that morning not knowing what was going to shake out. I knew the rain would let up some time that morning. But when?

I arrived early and again drove around to make sure that I knew where everything was. It was raining intermittantly that morning. I knew that Bill I and Charlie J were going to show up. But 6 other people did not show up for this one. I understood as the weather was not that great, especially compared to New Years Day, when it was sunny and in the 70's. So when Bill and Charlie showed up and it was still raining, we discussed our options.

After some discussion, we decided to leave a note on my car and go to McDonalds in Bills car and have breakfast. That way, hopefully, the rain would stop. It did, and we eventually started at around 11:30AM, versus our original target time of 10AM.

The trail was mostly flat and mostly in good shape treadwise. It was obvious that the park service had put some effort into over half of this trail. However, due to the large volume of rain that we had received, the streams were very high and difficult to cross. Also, some sections of this trail were muddy bogs. There were some sections that we were able to navigate and some sections that we just gave up and took the roads parallel to the trail. The worst sections were near the 3 story observation tower and around Little Round Top. The only real ups were a mountain just before Big Round Top and Little Round Top itself.

Just like the Manassas NMP in VA, it was a strange feeling walking in the forests and pastures where thousands of young men died over 140 years ago. It was also interesting to see various monuments in the middle of the woods as the forest has grown around them since the battle. The Park Service is reforesting certain parts of the battlefield and clearing other parts in an effort to make it look like it did in July, 1863.

The weather was cloudy at first, then sunny (we even had to take our coats off at one point), then, as we summited Little Round Top, it got cold and blustery. But it soon calmed down. We pretty much stuck to the roads after the muddy conditions that we encountered at Little Round Top. We made it back to our cars around 3:30PM. Sights included an amphitheatre, an observation tower, various farms and numerous monuments. We also saw a castle, a ski resort off in the distance, the Eisenhower farm and some great views. It was a good hike.

We then ate at the Appalachian Brew Pub afterwards. In my opinion, the best thing there was the beer. Then we departed for home. As usual, Daryl and Madelyn did a great job on the hike for 2 youngsters. I'm glad that we got to pull this hike off with the weather the way it was. If the high streams and the muddy conditions weren't there, this would have been a great hike. I hope that the park service rehabilitates some sections of this trail as it needs it badly. In the mean time, take the ranger's advice: Hike on the roads when at Gettysburg National Military Park, PA.

Mike C
Map of where we hiked
  Map of where we hiked.
  By Mike Calabrese
Group picture before the hike
  Group picture before the hike.
  By Mike Calabrese

Farm next to the park   Farm next to the park.
  By Mike Calabrese

Daryl & Madelyn next to a monument
  Daryl & Madelyn next to a monument.
  By Mike Calabrese

Monument near Big Round Top
  Monument near Big Round Top.
  By Mike Calabrese

View from Little Round Top
  View from Little Round Top.
  By Mike Calabrese

GPS output of where we hiked
GPS output of where we hiked.
By Bill Isham

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