Billy Goat Trail 'A' Rock Scramble and The Gold Mine Hike in Great Falls Park!
This memorable hike contains some optional rock scrambling (On the Billy Goat Portion but Not the Gold Mine Loop) so come on out and climb the boulders with us for some good times! What is rock scrambling you might ask? Anytime you have to use your hands to get over rocks or steep parts, we call it rock scrambling and there is a little of that on this short hike. No special gear is necessary for scrambling and the scramble is only a portion of the hike. The pic on the left is from the optional Billy Goat Trail 'A' portion of this hike.
Click here for pictures of a past hike with us on Billy Goat Section A
This circuit begins with an easy hike over mostly gentle terrain. We will enter the woods above the C&O Canal to explore gold mining works that date from the Civil War to near the mid-20th century. Watch for mounds of dirt, some a couple of feel high, deposited by Appalachian moundbuilding ants. Beyond the abandoned gold mines, the trail joins the bed of an old trolley line that brought visitors from DC to the falls. Check out the pic on the right for a recent pic taken from this hike of one of the old mine areas.
Then, after the Goldmine area, we will follow the towpath to Olmstead Island, which affords fine views of Great Falls as seen on the left and is the furthest point out on our large loop hike. For those who opt for the 7.2 mile version of this hike, this is where your group continues on the towpath back to where the cars are parked and the path is flat and very easy with fantastic views of the river as you can see in a the pic on the left. For those of you who wish to join us for the full 9.6 miles (includes the 5 mile Billy Goat 'A' rock scramble, it is on to the formidably rough and optional Section 'A' of the Billy Goat Trail as pictured at the top of this posting and below on the right! We are right there with you to help you over any rough patches because we focus on team work all the way!
The Billy Goat 'A' section (Rock scrambling) of this hike is optional. This way those who are not interested in the challenging rock scramble can enjoy an easy, flat hike of 7.2 miles. If you join us for the Billy Goat section of this hike it will be a total of 9.6 miles and the Billy Goat portion is considered more challenging because it requires scrambling over boulders but is much fun! So, you have both pace and distance options for this adventure!
Unlike most popular hiking trails, Billy Goat Trail 'Section A', which is an optional part of this hike, offers up lots of scrambles around or over boulders, plenty of rocky terrain, a short but steep scramble up a cliff face, and heaps of breathtaking views of the Potomac River. Our group only hikes the Billy Goat 'A; section of this hike in the "off season" due to overhiking. It is not unusual for there to be lines to scramble over some of the large boulders that are up to over a hour long due to bottle necking. So, please trust us that we only post it when we know it will not have waits because who wants to have to wait in line for a hike? This means going in the off season or off hours. My favorite time of the year for hiking here is in the winter when the views are unparalleled and the trails uncrowded!
Nearby City: Potomac, MD
Scenery: Mathers Gorge and Great Falls from the Maryland Side
Distance: Choice of an easy and newbie friendly 7.2 or a more challenging 9.6 miles round trip if you choose to rock scramble Billy Goat 'A' with us!
Elevation Gain: approx. 450ft (6.6 mi) or 400ft (5.2 mi)
Hike Time: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Easy with optional Easy Side of Strenuous due to optional rock scramble
Hike Type: Loop
We hike rain, snow, or shine! Click here to see an up to the minute forecast for where we will be hiking if you want to keep an eye on the forecast for the trail.
There are 2 carpools for this hike!
Baltimore Area Carpool
To carpool from the Baltimore area, please meetup at Savage Station. Click here for directions to Savage Station.
Annapolis Area Carpool
To carpool or caravan from the Annapolis area, meetup at the Harbour Center Mall Starbucks. Click here for Annapolis carpool directions for getting to the carpool location. Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.
If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations, please post your location in the comment section below. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!
Directions to the Trailhead
Click Here for Directions for Where we Meet for this Hike.
Hike Meetup Time is 9:00 a.m.
Savage Station Carpool meetup time is 8:15 a.m.
Annapolis Carpool meetup time is 8:00 a.m.
Click here for suggestions for what to wear and what not to wear for our hikes.
Please remember we are a social hiking group that values fellowship and camaraderie and practice good hike etiquette. We take breaks as necessary and have at least one guide in the front in addition to a "sweeper" in the back which means that no hiker is left behind. If you get upset because someone has to rest at the top of a hill etc. then please find another group! We are very supportive, encouraging, and focus on safety while getting or staying fit on the trail and practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.
Fido is welcome on this hike if not joining us for Billy Goat (The Optional Billy Goat Portion of This Hike Does Not Allow Dogs)!
Let's have good times and see you on the trail and don't forget to take the hike leader(s) number with you just in case!