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Billy Goat Trail and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail Loop

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Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Billy Goat Trail and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail Loop is a 7.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Potomac, Maryland that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.

Length 7.2 mi Elevation gain 249 ft Route type Loop

Hiking

Forest

River

Views

Waterfall

Rocky

Scramble

Fee

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (6)
Facilities
Contact
Tips
Getting There

Please note: As of August 11 2020, users have reported that the Billy Goat trails A and B are closed. Please consult the park's website before visiting. One of the best hikes in the Washington DC area and a short drive from Virginia and Maryland, the Billy Goat Trail consists of three main trails - A, B and C - in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. The trail, marked by blue blazes, features fun rock-scrambles and spectacular views between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. All three sections can be accessed off the canal towpath between Great Falls Tavern and Carderock. The Billy Goat Trail is accessible year-round and protected by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. The park was established in 1961 as a National Monument by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to preserve the neglected remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and many of its original structures. $15 vehicle permit or $10 individual permit (foot, bike, equestrian). The Great Falls Tavern visitor center (Wednesday through Sunday) has more information about hiking trails and the history of the area. Dogs are NOT allowed on the trail.

$3.00 Individual Pass. Good for three consecutive days for individuals coming into the park on foot, horseback, or bicycle. $5.00 Vehicle Pass. Good for three consecutive days for one vehicle, including motorcycles. $20.00 Annual Pass. Good for one year from the date of purchase in Great Falls Park and C&O Canal National Historical Park in Maryland.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park Headquarters Office 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100 Hagerstown, MD 21740-6620 Park Headquarters 301-739-4200 Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center 301-767-3714

Start this hike early to avoid the crowds as this trail gets very busy.

Section "A" is accessible via the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center on MacArthur Blvd (ample parking). Access Section "B" via the towpath at Old Anglers Inn on MacArthur Blvd or Carderock off of Clara Barton Pkwy. Access Section C via Carderock off of Clara Barton Pkwy.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (1045)
Photos (1707)
Recordings (626)
Completed (3388)
Britney Dahlkoetter
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Hiking

First time on the trail!! Loved it , not to busy for the afternoon. Did 6 miles

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Matthew Naugle
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Hiking

Beautiful trail! Unfortunately Billy Goat trails A and B are closed. The closing of B wasn’t well marked so I followed the map from AllTrails and was blocked by a fallen tree. Keep on the main flat trail and enjoy the views. A close drive from D.C. and a wonderful escape. Not too busy during COVID.

Anewar Burka
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 7, 2020
HikingGreat!

Amazing experience. Nice for a Trial run as well as easy hiking. I enjoyed the trial three times during the pandemic. Even if there are somewhat many people, you can escape by taking way up and unpopular roots.

Tiaja Harley
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Hiking

AMAZING

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Just Lao
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

A rocky terrain but certainly one of the most simple fun trail you will do. No big elevation drop just you and your feet skipping rocks like a rabbit

Robin Billingsly
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HikingFeeRockyScramble

This is a great 7 mile trail. It’s a little slow going on the rocky parts but it was awesome. It took a little over three hours. We took our time and enjoyed the views. Great Falls National Park costs $20.00 per car or $10.00 if you walk or bike in. There are some parking areas close but we parked in the park.

Katlyn Bennett
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HikingRockyScramble
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Nubion Thomas-Kennedy
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HikingRocky

It was very rocky and beautiful! Some of the rocks are slippery so ensure you have proper footwear.

Adam Knabe
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Hiking

I wouldn’t say that Billy Goat A is a “moderate” hike, probably more like a hard, but it was really nice. The falls overlook is off this route. Absolutely gorgeous. Bring plenty of water on hot days!

Alex G
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HikingFeeRocky

Hiked early afternoon on the 4th of July. Pretty aggressive hike but a lot of fun. Would recommend doing in spring or fall when temperatures are cooler since there isn’t much shade.

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Andrew C.
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HikingRockyScramble

Section A of the Billy Goat trail is by far the best hike in the DMV. Fun and never gets boring. If I recall correctly, the sign says like two hours to do it, but I’ve done it in 35 minutes, and trail runners will certainly get it done in under 25. With my out of shape friends and enjoying each other’s company, still have never taken longer than 1.5 hrs for the trail itself. Budget more time if you’re going to do additional sections and to walk to the trailhead since you have to get there from the parking area. There’s a “cliff” people like to talk about, but please don’t be intimidated by that. There’s a clear primary path that is doable for most people and won’t require any upper body strength. This area does tend to get backed up in high traffic. There’s a way to go more straight up to the left though and across the top of the rocks that won’t cause you to go off path and destroy any plants. There’s no way around the cliff, so if you want to avoid it, you have to turn back. But there’s an exit not that far before the cliff where you can go back to the towpath. The easiest way across the big boulders in one section is to just go along the top rather than in the cracks. I prefer going west to east (starting from the gated large parking lot). This is the direction that will start you in the rocky area, through the bouldering section, then over the cliff. If you don’t want to pay to park, you can park in the lot across from Angler’s or, more likely on busy days, along the side of the road. As long as you aren’t an ass and don’t park too close to a fire hydrant, you won’t get a ticket. Two primary downsides are how busy it can get and the fact that the Potomac is always flooding and closing this section. So try your best to go during off peak hours/days and check the park website for closures. I’ve since moved from the area, but the trail markings used to be somewhat poorly maintained, making it really easy for people to go off trail. Shouldn’t set you back to much time or effort wise, but maybe something to be aware of.

Michelle Duay
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HikingFeeRocky
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Tierra Epps
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HikingRocky

Great Trail - I love this place!

Brad Sawyer
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Hiking

If you were to go on this trail with a tour guide, all they would be able to say is “On the left is some rocks and the Potomac River” the entire hike. There are myriad rock scrambles, making for a fun hike that is certainly more about enjoying the journey, rather than reaching an ultimate destination.

Christiana Cole
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HikingBugsOff trailRocky

Great trail with a diverse terrain. You will need good shoes with traction!

Sarah Waclo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 1, 2020
Hiking

Probably a little more challenging than moderate. Only dogs who are good at hiking and climbing. Some parts are pretty steep BOOTS ARE A MUST

Rajeev Mohal
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HikingBridge outRocky
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mechelle williams
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Hiking

Fun trail. Took kids. We had a blast and the water views were beautiful

Sage Rosenthal
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Hiking

Great trail, and love the water views!!

Jessica Andersen
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HikingRocky
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