DC to Gettysburg: Civil War History

A Tri-State Historical Adventure
Adrian Martin
Price :
Duration :
5 days
Support :
Van Supported
Difficulty :
Level 3

Immerse yourself in the landscape that witnessed the key conflicts and resolutions of the Civil War, all from the seat of your bicycle. Meet us in Washington, DC, a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall, as we begin our tri-state tour through history. Journey alongside the Potomac River to historic Harpers Ferry, where exhibits and live reenactments bring John Brown’s Raid and the Battle of Harpers Ferry to life. Follow the C&O Canal Towpath to Antietam National Battlefield, known today as the site of the single bloodiest day in U.S. military history. Wind your way through Sharpsburg, Shepherdstown, and Catoctin Mountain Park, home to the retreat of U.S. presidents past. 

Cap off the trip with a one-of-a-kind cycling tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield, led by an expert battlefield guide.

Photos by Rebekah Zook | Cyrus Crowder | Laurel Hamilton | Arash Baratloo

There are no scheduled departures for this tour.

"My Adventure Cycling tour was, without a doubt, one of the peak experiences of my life."


Day 1. Washington, DC, 0 miles

Meet your group in the heart of Washington, DC, with easy access to the city's most iconic monuments: the National Mall, the Smithsonian National Museum of History, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Library of Congress. We'll kick off our five-day adventure with an optional night cycling tour of our nation's capital before embarking on our historical tour of the surrounding states.

Day 2. Washington, DC, to Brunswick, Maryland, 57 miles

On your way out of Washington, DC, you might pedal directly past the White House and the Lincoln Memorial before heading to the C&O Canal Towpath. Originally where the mules would have led the canal boats in and out of dock, you'll ride on two wheels alongside the meandering Potomac River, which serves as the state line between the District of Columbia and Maryland. Observe the many canal locks and lock houses where keepers would be awakened at all hours to open the gates for passing canal boats.

Day 3. Brunswick to Greenbrier State Park, 46 miles

Today we'll arrive in Harpers Ferry, one of the most dramatic and controversial cities of the Civil War era. It was here that, in 1859, John Brown initiated an armed slave revolt that took over a U.S. arsenal located in Harpers Ferry. Its location on a bluff at the intersection of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers made it difficult to defend, and Stonewall Jackson easily took control of the town on orders from Robert E. Lee in the fall of 1862, a confrontation aptly named the Battle of Harpers Ferry.

Today's ride will also bring us to the site of the single bloodiest day in American history at Antietam National Battlefield. With a combined total of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing, the Battle of Antietam pitted Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General George B. McClellan against one another in what turned out to be an inconclusive "victory" for either side, but is largely seen as a Union strategic victory.

Day 4. Greenbrier State Park to Gettysburg National Military Park, 42 miles

For our penultimate day, we'll pass through Catoctin Mountain Park, home of Camp David, before arriving at Gettysburg National Military Park. Camp David, while built long after the Civil War era, served as a retreat for many U.S. presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Kennedy family.

You'll have the afternoon to explore on your own, which will set you up well for our guided tour tomorrow morning.

Day 5. Gettysburg National Military Park Tour, 15 miles

This morning, we'll join one of the highly qualified battlefield guides that will take us on a cycling tour of Gettysburg National Military Park. Witness such monuments as Spangler's Spring, Gettysburg National Cemetery, the Jennie Wade House, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Memorial, all from the seat of your bike and through the eyes of a seasoned expert. After our tour, we will shuttle back to Washington, DC, for one last glimpse of the capital before heading home.


Additional Details
Start Location:
Washington, DC
End Location:
Washington, DC
Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA)
Total Days:
Riding Days:
Layover Days:
Average Daily Mileage:
Shared cooking
Level 3
Technical Difficulty:
Restricted Bike Type:
eBike, eTrike