This trail has a very difficult first mile involving Billy goat like maneuvers (hence the name) over rocks and boulders that aren't just strewn around the trail, but are the trail. Even after scrambling the first mile you will still find boulders to negotiate and steep descents that require that you get down on all fours at times. Although this trail is highly traveled hikers can still find some alone time if hiked during mid-week. This becomes more difficult on beautiful days in the summer, but come cooler temperatures in the fall coupled with school starting you can sit on a rock outcropping over looking the Potomac for quite sometime without another hiker trying to take your spot. If you really want to have it all to yourself bundle up for a cold weather hike in the winter. Believe me the boulder hopping will warm you right up. It?s close to the city and easy to get to, but will provide a fresh experience every time you hike it. If you are nervous about all the boulder talk and the difficulty rating let me put your mind at ease. I took my two little brothers at 10 and 7 and where they usually complain about long walks they were racing me even when we came to the end of the tow path 4 miles later. Hint: Instead of completing the circuit, take a left when you reach the tow path at the end of the trail instead of a right and walk another quarter mile. On your left will be a bridge to some great views of Great Falls.
I-495 (Capital Beltway) northwest of DC
Drive westward along the Clara Barton parkway for 1.5 miles to where it ends at Macarthur Blvd.
Left onto that highway, continue for another mile
Left into trailhead parking area across the road from the Old Angler's Inn
Walk onto the lower road, follow a short trail and turn right onto the towpath
In about a half mile on the towpath a broad area of the canal will be before you
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Posted By: scgraham
- Tue Nov 25 13:22:55 EST 2008
UpsideVery beautiful area with amazing views of the potomic, intense trail making a very challenging but fun hike. Whitewater kayaking easily accesible with canal very close to parking. Phenominal top rope climbing and bouldering right on the river. And billy goat trail goes from Carderock to Great Falls so at the end you can look out on the incredible rapids and falls.
DownsideVery very crowded on weekends and holidays, lots of touring groups and kids. Parking becomes difficult
CommentGo on a weekday and explore the awesome terrain uninterupted