Hiking Through History: Antietam National Battlefield

By Sharon Jones, Girls Who Hike West Virginia Ambassador


I went out one day searching for a place to hike. I decided to check out the trails at Antietam. I got in a good hike, and an even better lesson in history. 

Approximately 23,000 soldiers were wounded, killed or went missing over the course of twelve hours on September 17, 1862 at Antietam. The battle at Antietam was the “bloodiest one-day battle in American history.” 


Advances in photography during this time allowed photographers to be more mobile, and even develop film in field darkrooms. These advancements assisted photographer Alexander Gardner in capturing the world’s first photographs of those killed in the Civil War. Needless to say, many people were shocked by these photos.

Photo Credit: Alexander Gardner

Photo Credit: Alexander Gardner

One of the trails I followed during my visit to Antietam was the Cornfield Trail. This is a 1.6 mile trail that covers a good portion of the area where the first three hours of battle action took place. The majority of casualties incurred during this battle happened in this 24 acre Cornfield.

There are multiple trails that allow you to explore the battlefield at Antietam and soak in its history.