Recently, Civil War Cycling announced the availability of PDF maps for biking the Gettysburg battlefield. [Update: New for 2021, checkout our Maps to Bike Gettysburg mini-book series.] Today, this blog post asks the question, so what?!
What’s the big deal?
You may be wondering why an official park map isn’t good enough for bicyclists who want a historical ride through Gettysburg National Military Park. Or maybe you’re thinking that someone’s Strava or Map My Ride post will work just fine. You will be disappointed with both of those options.
If you want a safe, circular, and educational bicycle ride through the Gettysburg battlefield…
you need either a licensed battlefield guide *OR* maps that are tailored specifically to the needs of a bicycling historian.
The official park map, as well as GPS routes that you can find online, lack the details that you need for historical touring. They may not avoid town roads. They do not provide information or photographs about monuments or the battlefield landscape. Rarely will they document one-way roads or identify blind curves or shady rest areas. And of course, auto tour guidebooks are designed for motor vehicles, not bicycles.
Want a licensed battlefield guide?
I highly recommend GettysBike Tours.
Want maps for a self-directed bicycle tour?
Please consider Civil War Cycling’s comprehensive paperback guidebook (paid link) and/or PDF companion maps for bicycling Gettysburg. Neither the guidebook nor the PDF document maps require the other. A third option is to travel light with a paperback mini-book from our Maps to Bike Gettysburg mini-book series.
Table of Gettysburg Bicycle RoutesCivil War Cycling's bicycling maps are historically themed, circular routes over park roads that are designed for safety and cycling convenience. You may print these multi-page color PDFs to tuck into your jersey, bicycle panniers, or handlebar map bag. If your mobile device has a PDF reader, you can also digitally view your maps while on a break. There are no license keys or passwords. Simply purchase, download, and use.
Note: On a mobile device, you may need to swipe the following table to the left to get to the 'Read More' links.
|Route #||Route Name||Miles||Theme||Link|
|1||Full Day Loop||23.8||*Best Seller* Maximum battlefield coverage for July 1-3, 1863 [Tricky zig-zag through town to get to the Day 1 battlefield]||Read More|
|1b||Full Day Short Loop||11.5||*Popular* Abbreviated coverage of key battlefield sites for July 1-3 [Requires above-average road cycling skills]||Read More|
|2||Battle Day 1 Loop||10.5||Fields north of town and part of Culp's Hill [For the serious historian]||Read More|
|3||Battle Days 2 & 3 Loop||17.0|| *Popular* Southern half of the battlefield, plus a complete tour of Culp's Hill||Read More|
|3b||Battle Days 2 & 3 Short Loop||10.7||*Popular* Abbreviated coverage of key battlefield sites for July 2-3||Read More|
|4||The Ridges Loop||9.0||Simple route over the July 2-3 battlefield south of town, excluding Culp's Hill||Read More|
|5||The Ridges Extended Loop||12.2||*Popular* Adds to Route 4 a ride through Devil's Den, Rose Woods, and the Trostle Farm area||Read More|
|6, 7||Culp's Hill Lower & Upper Loops||2.4 (each)||Culp's Hill divided into two loops||Read More|
|8||Culp's Hill Double Loop||5.5||Complete tour of Culp's Hill, including East Confederate Avenue [Recommended for your second tour of GNMP]||Read More|
|9, 10, 11||Devil's Den, The Wheatfield, and Little Round Top Loops||1.5 - 3.8||Devil's Den, The Wheatfield, and Little Round Top [Simple route, physically demanding]||Read More|
|12||East Cavalry Field||5.2||East Cavalry Field [For expert road cyclists only. Most of this tour is not within park boundaries.]||Read More|
How These Maps Emerged From My Mistakes
For more than thirty years, and over many dozens of visits, I toured Gettysburg National Military Park by bus, car, and foot. In 2012, I toured the battlefield on a bicycle for the first time. The experience of learning American history while exploring park land on a bicycle is hard to describe, but if I had to pick one word, it would be “exhilarating.”
And yet it took four years to work out the kinks in my self-directed, solo tours.
I created my own maps (and guidebook) because I could not find any maps that met my needs as a bicycling tourist.
I was frustrated by one-way roads, incomplete or inaccurate maps, and not knowing how best to avoid town traffic. At first, I did not know what equipment to pack, what clothes to wear, and where to find convenient access to water, portable toilets, and shade for picnics. I had to figure out on my own how best to sequence my visits to what monuments and within what general timeframe.
Biking the Gettysburg Battlefield:
How are Civil War Cycling Routes Unique?
It is challenging to design a safe, circular ride through Gettysburg (so why not purchase a map that does the work for you?). This is especially true for bicyclists who prefer not to ride against the flow of traffic. Gettysburg National Military Park has many one-way roads. The road network can make it frustrating to ride in a loop or get to a particular site.
Civil War Cycling’s maps are specifically designed to meet the needs of bicyclists of all skill levels. At Gettysburg, a bicyclist cannot simply pick up a park map and start riding without already knowing:
- What roads are safest for a bicyclist
- How traffic flows (there are many one-way roads)
- State, town, and park loaws and policies about bicycle use
- How legally to explore areas not typically toured by car
- The names of roads not labeled on an official park map
- Monument locations
- Where to find restrooms, water, picnic areas, shade, and bicycle racks
Making It Easy to Ride
Civil War Cycling’s maps make it easy for you to focus on the park and its history — not on logistics.
With these maps you can ditch your car and abandon all dependencies on GPS signals.
Most bicyclists will want to print the PDF maps and then stuff them into a pocket for access during a quick stop. And if your mobile device has a PDF reader, you can also consult your maps electronically during a stop.
(For safety reasons, Civil War Cycling’s maps are not intended for use while riding. At Gettysburg, there are many twists and turns in the roadways, and using your fingers to zoom in and out of a digital map while riding can be dangerous.)
Making It Easy to Learn
Each of fourteen routes through the Gettysburg battlefield consist of a series of “segments” that identify the location of a sampling of monuments along the route. Every map pinpoints the location of monuments. The following example segment map (Segment E), identifies three monuments using numbers that correspond to photographs and historical details also given on the map.
Biking the Gettysburg battlefield is all about learning by doing. The maps provide an experiential framework for learning about the Battle of Gettysburg. Get yours today!