Wilkinson National Recreational Trail

Wilkinson National Recreational Trail

Since my first visit to the Saratoga National Historical Park
I’ve wanted to hike the Wilkinson Trail.
The Wilkinson National Recreational Trail is a 4.2 mile “lasso” path.
It’s located in the northern part of the Saratoga Battlefield.
The Liaison Trail (a shorter hike)
-from Breymann Redoubt
-to Balcarres Redoubt
excludes a good portion of the Wilkinson Trail (two miles)
but it does take you to the Freeman Farm.
I wanted to do the whole trail.
I had somehow got the impression
if I did the whole hike…
I would get to see the Hudson River.
I was wrong…
but this gives me another opportunity to explore the park farther.
Saratoga Battlefield.
My first hike of the New Year!
I was so excited to return to the Saratoga Battlefield with Nathan.
It was cold out…
but not unbearable.
Snow wasn’t falling…
and the wind was mostly calm.
We knew hiking the whole length of the trail would take a couple hours.
So we got out of the house early.
The days are getting longer…
but darkness still arrives faster than one expects.
Gently rolling hills.
Sporadic forests.
Expansive fields.
Nathan and I both enjoyed the absence of people.
(the best thing about hiking off season)

When we did see other humans they were near the cannons and memorials.
I do not believe most people hike the whole Wilkinson Trail.



As we walked…
we of course talked about the landscape.
Its contribution to how the battles were fought.
We talked about what it might be like to be a part of the war…
the quality of weapons
the quality of life
the real idea of the blood that was shed
… horrifying.
The Freeman Farm
“the battlefield”
When Nathan and I came upon the area
where the Freeman farmhouse once stood
I saw cannons everywhere.
Immediately I knew this was the area!
The top of the snowy field
with the plaques
and the cannons…
The place I couldn’t reach my first visit to the park.
… due to snow.
I started looking up
to see if I could make out
the lookout where I first saw
the Freeman Farm.
I got so excited.
I saw the marvelous trees!!!
Even from down on the battlefield the trees stood out.
The battlefield with no snow was surprisingly different.
I think Nathan and I were in need of a long walk.
He stopped and read the plaques.
He explained things to me about the Revolutionary War.
His enthusiasm was refreshing.
Looking down a ravine from the trail.
I’m not sure if it’s the time of year…
but in the wooded areas…
I had the impression…
I would get lost if I was by myself.
… directionally challenged.
Everywhere I looked was deceptively similar.
Lucky for me the trail is very well marked.
I recommend getting a Wilkinson Trail map available at the Visitor Center.
The Wilkinson Trail brochure is great to have during the hike around the British Encampment.
It has a list of interpretive stations
-A through N
explaining events of the Battle of Saratoga.
I enjoyed the interpretive stations.
During a walk that’s a little over 4 miles it’s nice to stop.
look around…
and gain knowledge of the history beneath one’s feet.
“Bloody Knoll” at Balcarres Redoubt.
Not really mentioned on the internet.
Nothing noting its location in my Wilkinson Trail brochure.
Yet I believe I read, the knoll is where the most casualties in the battle occurred.
I kind of wish I had done it now…
but I didn’t take pictures.

After collecting information from the Visitor Center on my first visit
I thought it would be easy to find information about Wilkinson National Recreational Trail on the internet.

There are lots of maps to be found.
Maps of where the trail is.
Maps of how to get there.
but no real information about hiking the trail itself.
I do own a book with detailed information about the hike.
I also have a map of the trail that I got from the Park Ranger…
but even the National Park Service website didn’t have Wilkinson Trail information.

Lots of historical information on the battle…
but not much about the path through history.

I do highly recommend going to the Visitor Center before exploring.
They have excellent maps and historical information.
A timeline museum.
A battle tactic map with lights showing movements of troops.
And a public restroom.


Nathan and I ended up walking 5 miles.
We had an excellent time exploring the British Encampment.
We were out on the trail for about 2 1/2  hours.
We went into the Visitor Center briefly after we finished walking.
I thought Nathan might enjoy a quick look at the weapons.
Just as we left the Visitors Center…
it started snowing.
Behind the Visitor Center heading towards the Wilkinson Trailhead.
Overlooking Saratoga Battlefield.
Cannon at Balcarres Redoubt.
Many cannons are displayed in this area.
Cannon at Breymann Redoubt.
Flax was farmed on this field back in 1777.
Path used by the British Army.
Hessian soldier route.
The Hessian soldiers advancing would have crossed a bridge here.
Nathan on the path where the Hessian soldiers advanced.
Battlefield view from British fortifications.
The Freeman Farm. 
One last look.
Back at the Visitor Center.
Brochure I got from the Visitor Center.
Wilkinson Trail map in the brochure.
Hiking in New York: A Guide to the State’s Best Hiking Adventures


Stillwater, NY – January 3rd 2015