Saratoga National Battlefield Road

Saratoga National Battlefield Road

I had been waiting…
April 9th the park gates opened to Park Tour Road and the National Park Service announced park fees would not be collected until May 1st. Knowing this, I had to make it back to Saratoga National Historical Park before the crowds started rushing in.

Being able to drive the nine mile loop gave me access to places in the park I had never seen before. I decided to stop at all 10 stops along the Tour Road. For a quick reference map… Click Here!

While I was doing the tour, taking pictures and reading signs, I was surprised. Not by how many people were at the park, but rather that they weren’t taking the time to get out of their cars and explore. Every stop is wheelchair accessible. It was difficult for me to figure out why they’d be at a park if they had no intention of actually being there.

12/19/2014 – My first visit to the Saratoga Battlefield I was able to hike from the old entrance near the Neilson Farm (Stop 2) to the Freeman Farm Overlook (Stop 1).
For my story, if you haven’t read it… Click Here!

01/03/2015 – My second visit I hiked the length of the Wilkinson National Recreational Trail and was able to see Breymann Redoubt (Stop 7) and Balcarres Redoubt (Stop 6).
For my story, if you haven’t read it… Click Here!

01/10/2015 – My third visit began at the Neilson House (Stop 2) and then down to Bemis Heights: American River Fortifications (Stop 3).
For my story, if you haven’t read it… Click Here!

With Saratoga National Battlefield Road open and the snow gone I was able to see Stops 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10!
I took my time and hiked all around Balcarres Redoubt (Stop 6) and Fraser Burial Site and Trail (Stop 10).

Stop 1 – The Freeman Farm Overlook

View from Freeman Farm Overlook. I took a picture from this same vantage point my first visit to the park. In this photo, you can see the stretch of Park Tour Road between Stops 5 & 6.
For a comparison photo from my first visit… Click Here!

Stop 2 – Neilson Farm

Neilson House, April 27, 2015. I love this little house.

Stop 3 – American River Fortifications

Here I noticed the Hudson River glimmering in the distance. A thread a water running through the landscape so clear I giggled to myself remembering how badly I had tried to see it in the winter. I was pleasantly surprised to see it right where I believed it should have been. It had been frozen and the whole landscape was absolutely bitter in January.

While I was taking this photo… a little bird scared me. Swooping at my head, making angry noises. I could hear the feathers on its wings flapping the air violently around my head! I had the idea that I came too close to the bird’s nest. So after a few swoops from the bird and a few shrieks out of me, I moved away from the cannon and let the little bird be. 

I always try to identify different birds when I’m out hiking. I try to take note of wing shape, tail feather splay, the body size, neck length, and flight pattern. The most I can be sure of is this little bird was Swallow like. With the help of, my best guess is a Barn Swallow.
Again I was seeing, straight in front of me, the Hudson River. I was excitedly expecting to be right next to the Hudson further down the tour road…

I didn’t hike the full trails at this stop this time. I had been down the south path during my third visit to the park so I just did a quick photo taking walk. Plus, I really didn’t want to risk disturbing that poor little bird again.

Stop 4 – Chatfield Farm

This landscape is so vast. In this photo you can see the tour road leading towards Stop 5. You can also see the Visitors Center up on a hill towards the right side of the photo. I had never made it to this stop before. I imagine this is where I saw the hawk soaring my first visit. Just a wide open field, that gently rolled underneath its winter blanket of snow.

A sign nearby read, “ASA CHATFIELD FARM The farmhouse which stood near here was used as an American observation post.”

Stop 5 – Barber Wheatfield

Another stop I was seeing for the first time. I hiked all around and read the signs. On the other side of this field is the little cannon I was so please to see my first visit. 

The left sign reads, “At the height of the fighting in the Barber Wheat Field, when New Hampshire Continentals overran two British cannons, an excited American officer, Colonel Joseph Cilly, leaped upon one of the smoking guns to claim it for the Patriots’ cause.”

The center sign reads, “THE BATTLE BEGINS AT BARBER’S WHEAT FIELD The fighting began where you now stand and in the woods behind you in mid-afternoon of October 7, 1777. Within minutes, more than 4,000 men collided in savage combat along a line stretching westward across the Barber Wheat Field in front of you and into the clearing on the far hillside. This panorama recreates the struggle at the moment the Americans gained the advantage. In the foreground, Patriots pour murderous volleys into the retreating British Grenadiers. Smoke in the far distance marks the crumbling British right flank. In the middle ground, though still fighting valiantly, German and English ranks are giving way to the American onslaught.” 

The right sign reads, “As the carnage in the Barber Wheat Field neared an end, Brigadier General Simon Fraser was struck by a rifle ball while directing a holding action to cover the retreat. Grievously wounded, the brave British general was carried from the battlefield.”

I took this photo from the center of the battle line. It is always hard for me to imagine people killing and dying here because it is so peaceful. The trail through Barber Wheatfield is on the quick reference map I have linked in the beginning of this post.

A sign next to me read, “Under intense pressure from the Massachusetts Continentals and New York and Massachusetts militia, units of the German Brunswick and Hesse-Hanau regiments were forced back from this site near the center of the battle line.” 
The little cannon. Now I know this is Barber Wheatfield. This field is where the Patriots cut off the British from their advancement towards Bemis Heights. 
For a comparison photo from my first visit… Click Here!

Stop 6 – Balcarres Redoubt (Freeman Farm)

Looking east – This photo was taken right after I got out of my car. The Freeman House site would have been on the left side of this landscape. I really thought, for all the photos I’ve taken at the Saratoga Battlefield that I would have had one somewhere of a sign with the layout of the land at Balcarres Redoubt. To view the sign… Click Here!

The Wilkinson Trail runs through Stop 6 and is accessible year round. You could also follow the Liason Trail to Stop 6 if you didn’t want to hike the whole length of the Wilkinson Trail. Both trails are marked on the quick reference map I have linked towards the beginning of this post.
The first time I visited Bloody Knoll I felt it was inappropriate to take a photo where so many casualties occurred. I’ve thought about it a lot since January and decided if I made it back to the knoll that I would take a photo out of remembrance – for those who have died for our freedom.


Mill Creek in the valley of the Middle Ravine. I came upon this footbridge while exploring a trail. At a junction nearby you can choose to either go towards Chatfield Farm (Stop 4) or towards Barber Wheatfield (Stop 5). This trail is marked on the quick reference map I have linked towards the beginning of this post.


Looking south – In this photo you can see Bloody Knoll on the right behind the cannon. On the left side you can see a portion of the Wilkinson Trail. I took this picture standing where I originally believed the Freeman House and Barn once stood. I still am not 100% sure, but sometimes I speculate that they were actually to the right of where I was standing when I took this photo. There are a few reasons why I thought the house and barn stood on this green patch of land including apple trees, lilac bushes, the ground was level, and inside the British markers that represent the fortifications. Maybe another visit can help me solve my mystery?

Stop 7 – Breymann Redoubt

This stop is accessible from the Wilkinson Trail. Unfortunately, my phone battery was too low to take photos at this stop. I had it charging in my car for other stops I had not yet been to. The Nameless Monument was free from its winter confines. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to get a photo before it freezes again. I took the time to read the dedication on the back of the monument and wondered if they would ever put Benedict Arnold’s name on it one day, but I suppose even if you helped win the Battle at Saratoga… a traitor is a traitor.

Stop 8 – Burgoyne’s Headquarters

The sign on the left reads, “BURGOYNE’S HEADQUARTERS Scaled in size according to the rank of the occupant, Crown Force officers’ tents – or marquees – graced the American wilderness with fluttering pennants, elegant fringe and elaborate awnings and breezeways. The several large, colorful marquees that marked the Headquarters of Lt. General John Burgoyne stood near this site between September 19 and October 7, 1777, together with those of his staff officers and aides.”

The sign on the right reads, “MAIN BRITISH ENCAMPMENT In marked contrast to the officers’ marquees were hundreds of enlisted men’s tents. The main British encampment of some 4,000 soldiers extended from east of Balcarres Redoubt to beyond the crest of the rise in front of you and to your left. Markers in the field before you correspond to the flags in the illustration and indicate the boundaries of a regimental camp. There were seven such regimental camps in this main encampment.”


Looking west – I found it interesting that this stop had such limited access as far as exploring was concerned. Unfortunately, there are no paths leading to the different areas of the encampment. Just a path to the observation lookout where the History Now signs were. I honestly did think about just walking onto the field, but I do my best to respect nature and only travel down designated paths. 

Stop 9 – The Great Redoubt

I knew I was going to get closer to the Hudson River! Since my second visit, when I failed to see the Hudson, I’ve become a little obsessed. I was thrilled to finally make it this close to the river on the hillside in the park. When I looked down I noticed a sign at the bottom of the hill.


Looking north – From this viewpoint I saw trails. I tried to figure out where the trails started and noticed red and white markers on the next peak over on the hillside. I was determined to read all the signs so I continued to the next stop. The views along the river here were amazing.
A sign nearby read, “THE RIVER REDOUBTS On these bluffs the British constructed three redoubts to protect their artillery park and hospital, located on the river flats below.”

Stop 10 – Fraser Burial Site and Trail

The sign reads, “BURIAL SITE OF GENERAL FRASER The British General Simon  Fraser, mortally wounded during the battle of October 7, 1777, was buried near this site the following day.”

The trail 
I walked straight forward from the sign about General Fraser and took this photo. The Hudson River from the viewpoint of where a cannon once stood. You can also see US Route 4 NY, which existed during the Revolutionary War as the only road from Montreal to Albany. There are layers of history along the banks of the Hudson River. You can also see the Old Champlain Canal, constructed in the 1820’s.
I was standing below the hill (Stop 9), on the river flats facing east when I took this photo. Remains of the Old Champlain Canal, US 4, and the Hudson River can be seen here. To see a sketch of the British encampment along the bluffs… Click Here!

Looking east – In this photo you can see remains of the Champlain Canal, US 4, and the Hudson River. Behind me, the Taylor Cabin once stood. I was fascinated by the old canal… no surprise really, but it distracted me from paying attention to the signs about the British.

A sign nearby read, “SITE OF THE TAYLOR CABIN Grievously wounded, General Simon Fraser was carried here to the Taylor Cabin, which had been taken over as a residence by Baroness Riedesel, the wife of the German Commander. The bleeding general was brought into the room, where a cheerful dinner party to which he had been invited was being held. Simon Fraser died at 8 o’clock on the morning of October 8, 1777.


End of the Park Tour Road. 

At this point… there is very little left for me to explore as far as trails are concerned. Overall, I’ve hiked approximately fifteen miles in the park and I would certainly visit again. I think now that I’ve seen all the landmarks I could do more serious hiking without being distracted by the history. Although I know I’ll always get distracted by nature.

An interesting side note – On April 29th, the park began prescribed burns. I know they began with the hillside at Stop 9 and that they also have been working at Stop 3. I learned this from following Saratoga National Historical Park on Facebook. It is updated often. Even throughout the winter. To see the Park’s Facebook Page… Click Here!

Stillwater, New York – April 27th 2015
For a large collection of photos taken by me at Saratoga National Historical Park… Click Here!