Sweat & Smile: Billy Goat Trail, Section A – Potomac, MD

  • July 17, 2010 · 9:00 AM
  • C&O Canal National Historic Park

Hey Super Troopers!!! Happy Summer! I love summer!! My favorite summers were the ones spent backpacking alone across Europe…getting lost in cities I only dreamed of (and cities I’ve never heard of)…stumbling upon the most charming villages…rushing into any adventure in the Alps I could find. But what I cherished most was the great warmth and friendliness of the locals and their acts of kindness--inviting me into their homes; introducing me to their friends; involving me in their daytime activities and social gatherings at night; and cajoling me (many times with a just a smile) to stay a couple more days. Even after all these years, ‘I still remember every moment…of those endless summer nights.’ (thanks Richard Marx for the great line) ---I hope you all (especially you John M, my friend) have a great summer and make sweet memories to cherish. This is for those who personally requested this trail… The Billy Goat A skirts the edge of Bear Island along the top of the cliffs of Mather Gorge. The 1.7 mile trail is rated strenuous as it’s a very physically demanding trail. Scrambling over angled rocks, jumping from boulder to boulder, and climbing are required (there are no short cuts). Although the trail is short, it’ll take us about an hour. For those wishing to leave early, there is an emergency trail exit to the Towpath about half-way through (30 minutes in). The terrain is mostly rock, with patches of dirt. There isn’t much change in elevation with the notable exception of a diagonal crack in a rock face that we’ll have to traverse/climb 50 feet up. It looks (and may sound) a little intimidating from the bottom, but really isn't bad at all. We care about you and wouldn’t want you to get hurt or into any trouble, but it’s ultimately up to you to keep yourself safe out there. You can do this by knowing your limits, hiking within your abilities, and by knowing the risks (land improperly and you could twist ankle, fall and you could break a bone, slip and you’ll likely crack your skull). If you have doubts about your physical ability, you might want to try one of our less strenuous walks/hikes (Susan has some great walks lined up!). Personally, as your favorite assistant organizer, I think it’s an easy trail if you try and I will see you through, of course. You know the risks, so it’s only fair I mention the rewards: great views of the Mather Gorge, the natural beauty of Bear Island, and a great total body workout! Billy Goat A will make you work 10x more than any treadmill could do. Once, we emerge from the east end of the trail, we’ll stroll and smile our way back along the Towpath, which is just about as easy, breezy, beautiful as can be. This walk/hike should take about 2 hours (3 miles of smiles). How to get there: Directions from the Beltway: 1) Take the Clara Barton Parkway (Exit 41). Follow the signs towards Great Falls. 2) Turn left onto MacArthur Boulevard (the entrance will be on your left just before the road makes a hard right and becomes Falls Road) 3) Use this
Google Map if you are unfamiliar with the area! Where to meet: We’ll meet at the refreshment stand. What to bring: yourself, $5.00 park entrance fee (although it's been free the last couple times I've gone), extra water (something you can keep in your pockets, as it’s best to traverse the trail hands-free), sturdy hiking shoes, and cool sunglasses. Also, don’t forget to hydrate and apply sun protection (much of the trail is exposed to the direct sun rays) before getting there. As always, if you have questions, need a ride, going to be late, or just want to say hello, my number is (301) 712-5880. Hope you’ll come to the dance! -albert

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