This scenic bike ride includes an eight-mile ride on the C&O Canal segment of the Potomac Heritage Trail in the Great Valley near Sheperdstown, WV, and through Sharpsburg, MD. Experience the natural beauty of the Potomac River beneath cave-dotted bluffs, and pause for a break to examine the incredible stonework of a canal lock. Then, take a road connection to Antietam National Battlefield, the Civil War site commemorating the bloodiest single day in American history. After circling the interior of the Battlefield, pass through the village of Sharpsburg for lunch and treats, with a return to the canal along Maryland Route 34. (Miller’s Sawmill Road is an option, but one misses a site marking General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters.)
• A casual ride along the river beneath the canopy with a long, open views of South Mountain and the Blue Ridge
• The Battle of Antietam was one of two major battles fought north of the Potomac River.
• The Battlefield observation tower offers expansive views of the valley and ridgelines, and a rare chance to see the entire landscape of battle of a Civil War site. You can also find out more and take a pit stop at the Antietam Visitors Center.
•One can ride this route starting either in Shepherdstown or Sharpsburg without driving a car to the trail head.
Location: Washington County, beginning at C&O Canal mile 72.8.
Total Distance: 16.4 miles.
Trailhead Directions: Parking beneath the Rumsey Bridge (Route 34) over the Potomac; Snyders Landing and Taylors Landing; and Antietam Battlefield.
Finding the Trailhead: From Shepherdstown, WV, cross the Potomac River on the Rumsey Bridge, Route 34. On a bicycle, turn right at the Maryland side of the bridge and follow the bike/pedestrian ramp or, via automobile, turn right at the top of the hill and descend into one of two parking areas. (Reach the second parking area by turning left at the bottom of the hill on River Road, which parallels the canal, and continue less than a half mile to a parking and pedestrian bridge.) On the Maryland side of the river, you can visit Ferry Hill Place, a historic visitors center, before you begin your ride.
7.8 Taylors Landing. Turn right on Taylors Landing Road. Where Taylors Landing Road
leads left at the fork, go straight on Bowie Road. Turn right at the next fork and proceed to Mondell Road.
8.3 Turn left on Mondell Road and ascend steep hill.
9.2 Route 65. Cross road and enter battlefield; go straight and ascend.
9.8 Turn right on Smoketown Road.
10.1 Turn left toward Mumma House.
10.4 Turn left toward Bloody Land.
10.7 Observation Tower. Turn right to follow the road, then descend a steep hill. This lane leads to Route 34.
11.1 Cross Route 34 and climb park road.
11.4 Turn right and follow road as it climbs. At the top of the hill are splendid views and a long stone wall. The stone wall is makes for a sunny rest stop overlooking the battlefield.
11.9 Turn right on Harpers Ferry Road, leaving the park. Continue into the village of Sharpsburg.
12.2 Turn left on Route 34.
16.4 Turn left just before the bridge onto Canal Road and descend the trailhead parking lot.