Route: Billy Goat - C&O Loop (MD)

Maryland, US
9.6 mi

A 15km loop linking all 3 segments of the Billy Goat Trail with the C&O Canal Towpath.  Great Falls, MD.

The Billy Goat 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.

Hiking the Billy Goat Trail

Section B and Section C are best accessed from the Carderock Recreation Area. All sections of the trail are free, although an entrance fee ($15 per car - 2019) is charged when entering and parking near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. No fee is charged when parking near Carderock. 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.

GPS Track


This is a sweet route. A friend and I are planning on taking on this lil jaunt this Saturday, 4/10. Gonna see if we can set a mixed-gender team FKT on this bad boy. Going to follow Leigh Weil's route, starting at Carderock and going counter-clockwise. Let's gooooo