Bumbling Through Hallowed Ground

A little tradition (or 2 years in a row) I’ve started is taking a fall weekend to hike with my dog. Last year we visited Cumberland Falls in Maryland and then stopped by Gettysburg. This year we headed back to Maryland to try the Annapolis Rock section of the Appalachian Trail.

By “hiking” I mean “meandering around trees.” But it’s good exercise and good mind clearing, right? Unfortunately the Appalachian part did not quite live up to expectations. Being on the AT is always cool, but I think this section required more of a hike than we were ready for to really get to the breathtaking vistas. Instead, we walked along a highway for some time, then kept walking up and up…and turned around. The dog and I were both sluggish, rains were coming….

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…and all the foliage was boring and yellow. So many elms and beeches! Basically we drove 3 hours to sit in a hotel for our normal Sunday activity of SVU in bed. Totally worth it.

The next day we headed to Antietam, my favorite Civil War battlefield. I decided to start at the end of the tour–Burnside Bridge. I usually run out of steam at that point, and it seemed like there’d be good photo ops with foliage background.

Aaand guess what part of the battlefield has been closed since 2015! Yup. I guess there’s a reason the park website has that alerts section with a big red exclamation point.

But I figured since we were there we might as well look around, leading me to a sign for a trail I’d always ignored before since I was tired. Snavely’s Ford trail winds along Antietam Creek, providing a super peaceful and wooded path that you might not typically expect from a historic site.

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At Snavely’s Ford, you can see a crossing spot for Union soldiers. Civil War Traveler provides fantastic podcasts that correspond to the NPS tour stops. Although this walk is not part of the tour specifically, I still enjoyed listening to the Burnside Bridge podcast, which had some details about the crossing in this area.

Once the path veers away from the creek, I came to a path post and decided to head up to the Final Attack Trail. NPS boasts this trail has some of the best vistas of the battlefield…I think I prefer the view from the Visitor Center or Sunken Road, but it was a panorama I hadn’t seen before.

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The portion of the Final Attack I started on was actually stop 7, and a right turn at took me right back to the parking lot at Burnside Bridge, totally about 2 miles total “hiking,” which was perfect for my purposes. I did drive through the start of the Final Attack loop for a view from the other direction. That total loop would have been 1.7 miles.

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Gettyburg is the showstopper battlefield, but I love Antietam for its simplicity and quiet significance. For any battlefield, I highly recommend the above mentioned podcasts and the apps from The Civil War Trust for battlefield info, videos, and tours.

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