Monday, February 23, 2009

Making Connections: The Three Farms Trail

The much anticipated "Three Farms Trail" opened this past October and now, at long last, Antietam National Battlefield is connected from the northernmost to southernmost ends by hiking trails. This had been in the works for years, and as regular Antietam hikers are aware the roster of available trails has been growing over the last three or four years. Now with the three farms connector, a sack lunch, plenty of water and a pair of sturdy boots a visitor can spend an entire day on the battlefield's trails getting to know the battlefield from the inside out.

As the euphonious name suggests, this new trail (above, in yellow) connects three farms that are all witnesses to the battle. Starting at the Roulette Farm ("Drive 'em boys, drive 'em, take anything you want but drive 'em!") the visitor can continue to the very secluded Parks Farm on the bank of Antietam Creek, and after pausing for photos and a re-lacing of the boots hike along the creek to the Newcomer Farm at the Middle Bridge.

If one is feeling particularly ambitious, one can simply begin at stop 2 on the Cornfield trail and end one's day at stop 9 after having conquered the Snavely Ford and Final Attack trails.

This was a multi-year effort, requiring lots of planning and hard work to make this fabulous trail system possible, and much of the labor was provided by the youthful arms and strong backs of the members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). These fantastic young people spend the summer engaged in a variety of infrastructure building projects, including:
brush removal, trail maintenance, and fence reconstruction.   Much of the beauty that the visitor enjoys at the Battlefield is the result of the hard work of these enthusiastic and good-natured young people.

YCC is a great altruistic way to employ young adults for the public good. you can check out their website here.

The trail on a chilly day this week.

Earlier in the week I stopped by the trail as it passes behind the Newcomer Barn and walked a few hundred yards to enjoy the wintertime aspect of this corner of the Park.  You can bet I'll be packing a lunch and enjoying the view of Antietam Creek from this bench when the weather gets a little warmer.

This is the mud-proof portion of the trail that passes under the highway 34 bridge, theBoonsboro-Shepherdstown Pike just north of the Newcomer Farm.  

Continuing South from Newcomer, the trail crosses a little run and makes its way toward a connection with the Sherrick Farm Trail and all points south.  Note the inscription on the bridge: "YCC 2004", an earlier project of the Youth Conservation Corps.

Now let's flashback a few months to when the weather was much, much, warmer...

Here are some pix, taken last summer, of the making of the trail as it passes under the highway bridge.

Rocks delineate the borders of the trail as chips just begin to be shoveled in.

As can be seen here, YCC kids literally work shoulder-to-shoulder with Park staff.

Young people + shovels = work getting done.

Despite the hard work, everyone is cheerful and enthusiastic.

The progress moves ever forward...

one shovel full at a time.

Watching all this work tuckered me out, I went for a little stroll down the trail to cool off and catch the summertime sights.

This way leads north to the little footbridge...

to the Parks Farm...

 and beyond, with beautiful sights, sounds, and smells every step of the way.

Refreshed, I returned to the worksite.

And timing is everything...the work had been completed with a lone YCC worker glancing back at a very good days work, as well as a legacy left for several seasons of visitors by the YCC class of '08.

Antietam National Battlefield; a great place to make connections of all sorts.

See you on the trail this spring.



Steve Basic said...


Congrats to all who worked on the trails, and I hope to visit Antietam once again when the weather gets better.

Will there be Ranger led walks on the trails??

Hope all is well.

Regards from the Garden State,


Jim Rosebrock said...

Thats a great trail. My son Jimmy worked with the YCC. He was so proud of his work that he goes out of his way to point it out to his friends when he is in the neighborhood. Thanks for covering the YCC contribution well.

Best Regards

Kathy said...

Great post. I had never heard of the YCC--I think its great that young people can make such a great contribution. Thanks for taking and sharing these pictures.

Anonymous said...

Mannie, I cannot wait until I can spend an entire day on these trails! The Cornfield Trail, the Final Attack Trail, and the West Woods Trail I was able to walk for the first time back in April were fabulous! As I told you then I had been coming to Antietam for 20 years and learned more of the battlefield on these trails during that one visit alone than I had in the previous twenty years! Great job to all involved!


Anonymous said...


Will you guys accept redirected mail if I'm out on the trails for an extended time? I'll need to have the bills find me.