MD Adventures

Billy Goat Trail and Great Falls

Music in video: “Acoustic Indie Folk” by Scott Holmes Music

The Billy Goat Trail is 1.4 miles of moderately difficult to difficult hiking with patches of easy along the Potomac River just north of D.C. It took us 2+ hours to complete the loop. Check out the video above and the pictures below to see what you will experience along the trail.

From the parking lot at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center ($20 per vehicle fee to enter the park), you will walk downstream/south along the C&O Canal. At the start, you will find the MD Great Falls overlook. I highly recommend you walk the entire length of this boardwalk to the Falls; it is a spectacular view. Be sure to “wear the damn mask,” especially for this section! Then you will continue along the C&O Canal until you see the start of the Billy Goat Trail (section A of the trails). Due to covid, you can only hike this trail in one direction. I think it should be this way all the time! As always, the earlier you arrive, the better it is to beat the long line of traffic entering the park. We got there at 11:30AM and were okay.

History lesson: The 185-mile Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal was constructed between 1828-1850; it had difficulty being funded and had floods along the way, which is why it took so long. It operated from 1850 (1831 in certain sections) to 1924 when another flood devastated parts of the canal. Then in 1938, the canal was sold to the U.S. Government who had the National Park Service oversee it. In 1971, it was declared a National Historic Park.

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