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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#41 - Billy Goat Trail

Lockhouse 16 along the C&O Canal

How can you not love Billy Goat Trail! Located on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, adjacent to the C&O Canal, this trail offers A LOT OF EVERYTHING!

"Section A" of this trail is classic! However, often overlooked, is "Section B" and "Section C". Include the Great Falls overlook at Olmstead Island, and you have ~ 9 miles of some incredible hiking!

For a hike that gets better and better, park at Carderock and start with Billy Goat Trail Section C, moving to B, then A.

Start of Section C

Section C is mostly wooded, running along the rivers edge. A nice, easy trail!

The Potomac River - with a small stream feeding in.
Section C loops back out to the C&O Canal, heading west before ducking back in as Section B. This section has aA few more rocks to navigate with nice views of the river.

C&O Canal looking west

Section B of the trail

This section has a lengthy rock section, this being one portion.

Small Creek Crossing

All of the rain had fallen in the morning. It left a damp, colorful, clean wooded area that started to show the onset of Autumn.

Section A; with its ruggedness, scrambles and views offers a fun hike. To this point I had gone roughly 3.5 miles and was ready to get into this next section. While it is only 1.7 miles in length, they estimate 2 hours to complete. With a photo or two taken, and a short break to enjoy the view, it took me about 1.5 hours to complete this section.

Section A of the trail starts from the Canal area and immediately heads down to the river area.
Some of the initial scrambles...

At this stage, you work your way from blue blaze to blue blaze...
A stream crossing as you cut inland working your way further up river

Up and down, as you climb following the maze of blue blaze

Colors and views abound...

Hands and feet required.

 I find it difficult to show scale in some instances, particularly ascents and descents. The most challenging descent (or ascent coming from the opposite direction) along Billy Goat Trail is this 40ft rock ledge.
40ft descent...

Down I go!
Looking up...

Upward from near the bottom

Great Falls National Park is just across the river in Virginia.
Once you finish Billy Goat Trail you continue up along the C&O Canal to the Great Falls Overlook on Olmstead Island. While it makes for a long hike, it's worth the additional mileage.

Great Falls
But the treat, after a long, sometimes strenuous hike, is the walk back along the C&O Canal. No more twisting, climbing trails to hike, just enjoy the solitude and beauty as you log the 4 miles or so back.

Keep Hiking, Friends!

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