Selecting Your Antietam Bicycle Route

If you want to bike Antietam National Battlefield, you must select a safe and historically interesting route.

And if you are thinking about a bicycling excursion to Antietam National Battlefield from the Cheseapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, you are likely to need even more planning help.

How to Bike Antietam National Battlefield…

First, let’s consider the battlefield itself. Route planning to bike Antietam is much simpler than for Gettysburg. Antietam National Battlefield is half the size of Gettysburg National Military Park. And the road network within and around the battlefield is much less complicated.

The National Park Service publishes a free map that includes markings for an auto tour of Antietam National Battlefield. The NPS map is very usable for a self-directed bicycle tour. However, you will need to make a few tweaks to the route in order to complete a loop. And you will likely want to avoid riding on Boonsboro Pike. You can see the official park map, here.

On the other hand, it is much more convenient to use a map designed specifically for bicyclists. It is simply not possible to read the NPS auto tour map and know the following:

  • What roads have fast moving traffic
  • Where winding roadways may impact visibility, and
  • How hills and swales will impact your ride.

But also…

A map that includes monument photographs and historical summaries will provide a more in-depth educational ride.

How to Bike Antietam from the C&O Canal…

Second, how does a bicyclist connect to Antietam National Battlefield from the C&O Canal and return to the towpath without backtracking, and without undue exposure to motor vehicle traffic?

There are four Mile Points on the towpath that provide access to public roads that lead to the battlfield park:

  1. M71 (to Millers Sawmill Road)
  2. M72.7 (Shepherdstown Pike)
  3. M76.6 (Snyders Landing)
  4. M80.9 (Taylors Landing)

Which canal towpath exit and return points you select will depend on several factors, including:

  1. Are you riding south or north on the C&O Canal Towpath?
  2. Do you want to stop at the battlefield Vistor Center?
  3. Will you want an opportunity to visit downtown Sharpsburg?
  4. How important is it to avoid incredibily steep hills?
  5. Do you have “expert” road cycling skills for low-visibility rural roads?

Answers to the above questions will determine your route from the canal towpath for an excursion to bike Antietam (and back again). Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a guidebook or map that outlined your options in detail, and also provided photos and historical information, too?

Click here to shop for guidebooks and maps.

Maps for bicycling Antietam …

Civil War Cycling publishes three digital (PDF document) map sets that you can purchase, download, and print or view on any computer (or phone) that has Adobe’s free PDF reader installed.  Please note that although GPS points are included, these are PDF documents, not GPS navigation systems.

We offer three different maps (buy and download your maps here):

  • Route 1 is a 9.2-mile battlefield tour
  • Route 2 is for the southbound C&O Canal bicylist who wants a battlefield excursion
  • Route 3 is for the northbound C&O Canal bicylist who wants a battlefield excursion

The PDF maps supplement the paperback guidebook, Bicycling Antietam National Battlefield: The Cyclist’s Civil War Travel Guide (paid link), available for purchase at many online bookstores, including Amazon. 

How to get your maps NOW

Please visit the Digital Maps section of our Shop

The Route 1 Companion Map is a 34-page full color, printable PDF map with photos, bicycling cues, and tips for a 9.2-mile historical tour. It covers these Antietam battlefield sites: North Woods, East and West Woods, The Cornfield, Dunker Church, The Bloody Lane, and Burnside Bridge. It also includes short histories of all Maryland regimental monuments and four high-level military maps that help you to understand battlefield events at each of four touring segments. Plan for 3-4 hours, including lengthy stops and breaks.

Bicycling Antietam National Battlefield Digital Map


Will you be riding south on the C & O Canal Towpath to Antietam National Battlefield? The Route 2 Companion Map is your guide for a touring excursion through Antietam National Battlefield. This is a 30-page full color, printable PDF map set that includes photos, GPS coordinates, elevation data, road descriptions, and bicycling cues and tips for exiting and returning to the towpath.


Will you be riding north on the C & O Canal Towpath to Antietam National Battlefield? This guide is similar to the the southbound guide, but the recommended canal path exit and return points are slightly different.


Enjoy your maps (no license keys)

Ready to purchase and download your maps? Click Buy Now and interact with PayPal screens to complete the purchase. Although PayPal manages the checkout process, you do not need a PayPal account, only a debit or credit card. The transaction is secure. After you authorize payment, you will be sent an email with a download link to your PDF map.

You can print Civil War Cycling’s PDF for your personal use without having to hassle with license keys or any kind of “digital rights management.”

Most bicyclists will print maps for bicycling Antietam and then stuff them into jersey pockets, panniers, or handlebar map bags for use during a bicycle ride. You can also read the PDF file on your mobile device (if you have a PDF reader) during a battlefield stop. For safety reasons, Civil War Cycling’s maps are not designed for use while riding your bicycle.

Questions? Need help selecting your route?

If you are planning a bicycle tour of Antietam National Battlefield, and you would like some free advice over email, please contact Civil War Cycling. I’d love to here from you!

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