By Carl Whitehill –
I have the great fortune that every day, on my way to work in the morning, I drive through the Gettysburg battlefield. Locals are the envy of many visitors that often wait months, if not longer, to catch a glimpse of the place they admire so much.
Springtime has finally arrived in Gettysburg and there’s no better time to explore this great town. Having lived in the region for about 12 years now, there’s hardly a place on the Gettysburg battlefield I haven’t stepped foot on. I often take my family out to roam around, discover new places and learn a little more.
As I drive along the Baltimore Pike heading into Gettysburg, I look off to the south and promise myself to venture up Power’s Hill someday. This tract of land is relatively new to the Gettysburg battlefield, having been preserved only a couple years ago.
I went out early to catch the sunrise cast over the hills to the east and onto Power’s Hill. It’s the best time to go, and the sun kept me warm during the chilly hike up the hill.
The National Park Service spent several months clearing trees and brush from the site a couple years ago, and has recently put in a parking lot on the south end of Blacksmith Shop Road, right across from Power’s Hill. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the top, but well worth the hike.
There are many ways to explore the Gettysburg battlefield – by car, bus, horseback, scooter, Segway, bicycle, and of course, by foot. It’s incredible to explore the landscape, monuments and the outdoors in the Gettysburg region and hiking always puts me up close to nature.
(When walking the Gettysburg battlefield, it’s best to wear long pants, use bug spray if possible, and check for ticks when you return. Hikes are often through wooded areas or high patches of grass.)
I ascended Power’s Hill and found three monuments and six cannon. This area was part of the Union line of defense and soldiers here spent seven hours on July 3, 1863 battling Confederate artillery at Spangler Spring at the base of Culp’s Hill. It’s been said to be the site of the worst fighting during the three-day Civil War battle.
The history of that hill is important, of course, but only more realized by the vantage point at its crest. From the top, looking east, is a clear view to Spangler Spring. It’s a beautiful view down the front of Power’s Hill, over the Baltimore Pike, and into the valley below.
Unlike the popular sites such as Little Round Top, The Angle and Devil’s Den, I was alone up there – me, nature, lots of birds and a fox.
Sure, springtime is a time to explore, but for many, it’s also a time for reflection. This town is full of opportunities to reflect, and if you’ve ever caught yourself soaking in the moment somewhere in Gettysburg, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Power’s Hill that morning was my place for reflection. It was just me, the shadows of history, and the great outdoors. All that before a day at the office. Not a bad way to start the morning.
About the author:
A resident of Adams County, Pa., for seven years, Carl is still finding nooks and crannies of the Gettysburg countryside to tire out his two young – and energetic – boys. Always on the search for ways to keep his crazy family active and adventurous, Carl prefers to lace up his hiking boots over firing up the car for a ride, but opts for going out for ice cream over a cold beer any day. He lives in Littlestown, Pa., with his wife, Kim, and sons – Colin and Christian.