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Great Falls! Gold Mine and Billy Goat 'A'! An Easy 5 or Moderate 8 Miles!

  • Feb 26, 2012 · 10:00 AM
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Join Us For an Easy Hike with Strenuous Optional "Rock Scramble" in Great Falls! The Gold Mine Loop Plus Optional Billy Goat Trail 'A'!

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 optioan Billy Goat Trail 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 centry. 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 5 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 fantasitc 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 8 miles (includes the 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 becuase we focus on team work all the way!

Distance Options
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 5 miles. If you join us for the Billy Goat section of this hike it will be a total of 8 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 during peak times. 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!

Trail Information
Nearby City: Potomac, MD
Scenery: Mathers Gorge and Great Falls from the Maryland Side
Distance: Gold Mine Trail: 5 Miles. If Joining us for the Billy Goat rock scrabme total mileage will be 8 miles.
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

Park Entrance Fee: There is a 5.00 dollar park fee per car.

Weather Information
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. 

Carpool Information

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. Click here for suggested carpool locations complete with directions. 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 10:00 a.m.

Savage Station Carpool meetup time is 8:45 a.m.

Annapolis Carpool meetup time is 9:00 a.m.  

Gear Information
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 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 Hiking ONLY the Gold Mine Loop. Billy Goat 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!


Delmar: [masked]


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  • A former member
    A former member

    Great hike. Beautiful views. Wonderful pace and friendly folks.

    February 27, 2012

  • Heather

    Great people, great hike, beautiful day. Pretty much sums it up!

    February 27, 2012

  • Anthony

    I've done the Billy Goat A multiple times in the past. It was nice seeing the Gold Mine Loop. I didn't know it was there..

    February 27, 2012

  • Peter H

    This was a five star event

    February 27, 2012

  • John A.

    The hike was challenging but not overly strenuous. The group was well organized. The people were friendly. And the weather cooperated. Great hike!

    February 27, 2012

  • Ann K.

    Couldn't have been better.

    February 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wonder hike with some wonderful hikers and even a bonus Bald Eagle sighting. Turned into a beautiful day. I could not have asked for a better day or group! Thank you all for making this an awesome hike. I look forward to hiking with all of you again soon.

    February 26, 2012

  • Susie

    I'll keep this simple-Billy Goat A is AWESOME!! Love all the rocks!

    February 26, 2012

  • Mariya

    An absolutely perfect day--thank you so much Ted! Let's do this again soon! :-)

    February 26, 2012

  • Mariya

    Hi Sonya, may I carpool with you? I can be at the Tenleytown Starbucks at 9am. Please let me know. Thank you!

    February 25, 2012

  • Sonya

    I can meet anyone who wants to go at starbucks at tenleytown at 9:00. I will drive. Car will hold four. One spot taken.

    February 25, 2012

  • Amanda D.

    How would 9:00 be to meet in Reston? I know it is not a long drive, but I don't like to push it.

    February 24, 2012

  • Anthony

    I also live in Reston. Car pool sounds like a great idea.

    February 24, 2012

  • Amanda D.

    I would like to carpool from Reston. Does anyone want to meet me by the Trader Joes at the corner of Baron Cameron and Bennington Woods?

    February 24, 2012

  • Greg

    Anyone interested in carpooling from Savage @ 8:45 AM?

    February 23, 2012

  • Sonya

    I will be coming from Nw dc at Chevy chase circle. I could pick you up if you are on the way.

    February 23, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Please note that the trailhead has changed to the Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center. This means that there is a $5 charge to get into the park. If you have an "American the Beautiful" multiagency pass, you can use this to get in. You may also have a Great Falls National Park pass, which will also let you in.

    With the fee, you may want to consider meeting nearby to carpool. Please post a comment if you have a pass and are willing to carpool.
    Thank you!

    February 21, 2012

31 went

Your organizer's refund policy for Great Falls! Gold Mine and Billy Goat 'A'! An Easy 5 or Moderate 8 Miles!

Refunds offered if:

  • the Meetup is cancelled
  • the Meetup is rescheduled
  • you can cancel at least 2 day(s) before the Meetup

Additional notes: Refund ONLY if your RSVP is changed to a "NO" PRIOR to 48 hours of hike time.

Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.

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