The Billy Yank Trail is a 10.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Cumberland Township, Pennsylvania that offers scenic views. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking, walking, and trail running. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
This trail was set up by the local Boy Scouts of America Council and is meant to be a historical experience. Booklets are available in the visitor's center for about $2. The booklet contains historic information, directions and spaces for information that can be filled in at each stop, for scouts who wish to earn the patches and medal that go with the trail system. Unfortunately, while the booklet holds directions it does not offer a map of the trails. This trail goes along with the Johny Reb Trail, Eisenhower Farm, Gettysburg Guided Tour, and the Visitors Center.
I didn't follow this trail exactly but did a very close version of it. Trail is very easy to follow (paved a lot of the time) and has great history and views of the battlefield. Really enjoyed this hike and would recommended it to anyone who enjoys history and easy walks!
did the trail in July with the boyscouts the boy scout pamphlet got is lost after little round top bring lots off water nice
This is a long fun hike with a great history to it. I did it with my son's scout troop as the 2nd to last part of their Gettysburg Badge. It was a full day hike and moderately challenging for them on average. But they were all generally 'done' by the end. We had lunch on top of Big Round Top which is optional and VERY challenging for some of them. Tough to know how much they listened or appreciated each lesson talk but I thought at the end, during Picket's Charge, they followed along. Not only does it walk you through a significant part of the battle but it walks you through both side of the conflict giving you a perfect view of what the soldiers saw. For me, the most amazing view was standing in the middle of Pickets Charge and looking at how far Little Round Top was knowing that cannons would be firing from THAT far away!
The only real issue was following the directions. Since the BSA does not publish any map, you rely solely on the written directions. And the directions have some inaccuracies and are not always clear. The unclear aspect is a mix of ambiguous description and unmarked references. We were overall accurate, with some backtracking, but we missed a section for Rose Farm and Devil's Den without realizing it until we went too far. To paraphrase an example: After the path to the Vermont Regiment Monument and turn right at the path. Follow the path along the stone wall..... What I saw was we are on a paved road (to me a path does not have cars), then the 'path' curves right, you go a couple hundred yards, curves left and you see it curving right up ahead. But at that point you see a dirt path with walls on each side. We all assumed that the turn was immediately at the monument.
The directions are not the end of the world, especially if you are a little flexible on the path or can just figure out the directions. So if you choose this for a Troop, I have some recommendations:
1) Internet research - Ok, this is sketchy, I could only find 1 map online. But that map at least gave me an idea of what the trail was.
2) Get a Map with some details: All we had was a map of the Audio Tour from the Visitors Center but it gave just enough references to help us figure out parts we were lost on. If you have details of all the sites on the trail, you'll be fine.
3) READ AHEAD! - Knowing the next section sometimes helped a LOT to figure out the current section.
So overall, great trail. Just do your homework so you spend time enjoying the hike and not a lot trying to understand lackluster directions.
This is a great trail for anyone who wants to pick up some history while getting some exercise. Some of the monuments are quite impressive, and at the right time of year there are re-enactments going on. Much of the trail is along paved roads. Don't bring your small children because there is little to no shade and it can make for a really long day.
I have done the trail 2 times, once in 1997 as a preteen and then again as an adult. The booklet for the trail was $1 when I was a kid and is now $1.99; still not a bad deal for the information and guidance the book offers.