Billy Goat Trail
|Billy Goat Trail|
Scrambling over boulders on Section A. Mather Gorge at left.
|Length||4.7 mi (7.6 km)|
|Location||Montgomery County, Maryland, United States|
|Use||Hiking Trail Running|
|Trail difficulty||Strenuous (Section A)
Moderate (Section B)
Easy (Section C)
|Sights||Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park|
The Billy Goat Trail — or Billygoat Trail — is a 4.7-mile (7.6 km) hiking trail that follows a path between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park near Great Falls in Montgomery County, Maryland. The trail has three sections: Section A, the northernmost, is 1.7 miles (2.7 km); Section B is 1.4 miles (2.3 km); and Section C, the southernmost, is 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
Billy Goat Trail was laid out by the YMCA Triangle Club in 1919.
Section A of the trail, by far the most popular, is on Bear Island and traverses rough and rocky terrain, including a steep climb along a cliff face along the Potomac River's Mather Gorge. At another point in the trail, hikers are required to scramble over and around huge boulders. Sections B and C are less strenuous; section B requires only one brief scramble, and section C has none. Most of the trail is well marked with light blue trail blazes.
Section A is best accessed from the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center.
Section B and Section C are best accessed from Carderock, Maryland. All sections of the trail are free, although an entrance fee ($5 per car - 2014) is charged when entering and parking near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. No fee is charged when parking near Carderock. Due to construction and lack of space, parking is now discouraged near Old Anglers Inn. Dogs are not allowed on Section A, nor on Olmsted Island (Great Falls Overlook), but are permitted on a leash at all times everywhere else in the park. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to do the Section A loop from the parking lot.
The three sections of the trail do not connect directly with each other, but are connected to each other by the towpath along the C&O Canal. The end point of section C is about 2.75 miles (4.4 km) southeast along the towpath from the starting point of section A.
Pictures are approximately upstream to downstream on the trail.
B Trail Gallery
C Trail Gallery
- Great Falls Trail Descriptions (PDF) from the National Park Service website
- Great Falls Trail Map (PDF), Page 1 and Page 2 from the National Park Service website
- The Washington Post. City Guide: Billy Goat Trail
- Hahn, Thomas Towpath guide to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal; Georgetown Tidelock to Cumberland American Canal and Transportation Center, 1993. ISBN 9780933788664, p. 40