Billy Goat Trail Section A and C: Easy, Moderate, or Easy Side of Strenuous Hike with Optional Rock Scramble
Unlike most popular hiking trails, Billy Goat Trail 'Section A' 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. We are going early to beat the crowds due to the popularity of this fantastic hike!
This hike contains some rock scrambling so come on out and climb the boulders with us for 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.
"Begin this hike along the towpath of the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, completed in 1850 after 22 years of work and mishap, and operated for 73 years between Georgetown and Cumberland, MD. The blue-blazed Billy Goat Trial turns toward the Potomac River at Widewater (a natural wide basin where the barges were able to pass) and leads backwards in history 180 million years to the time when the palisades of the Potomac were first forming. The trail skirts the edge of Bear Island, passing giant potholes as it follows along the top of the cliffs of Mather Gorge. This portion of the hike is quite rugged and necessitates a good bit of rock scrambling but is optional as the remainder of the hike is on the towpath and a newbie friendly walk.
Click here for pictures of a past hike on Billy Goat Section A
Click here for some pictures of the towpath
The park requests that hiking be limited to either weekdays or the "off season" time of year and our group practices good outdoor ethics and will not hike it other than the recommended times. We ONLY hike Billy Goat on the weekends in the off season or VERY EARLY in the day so it does not endanger the environment OR have the very long lines associated with this trail at other times.
Nearby City: Potomac, MD
Scenery: Mathers Gorge and Great Falls from the Maryland Side
Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 200 ft. (although there is not a lot of gain, the optional rock scrambling makes it seem more challenging)
Hike Time: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Very Easy on the towpath to Easy Side of Strenuous if you join the optional rock scramble
Trail Condition: OK, but a few difficult spots
Hike Type: Loop
We hike rain 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.
To carpool or caravan from the Baltimore area, you can meet at Savage Station. Click here for directions to Savage Station. Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.
If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations such as the DC area, 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.
Meetup Time is 7:00 a.m.
Carpool meetup time is 6:00 a.m.
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 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 not Welcome on this Hike due to the posted restrictions on Billy Goat! He is Welcome if you are skipping the rock scramble
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!
Be sure to take the hike leaders numbers with you just in case!