Say, let's give the Maryland side of the Potomac some lovin' with a return visit to the Billy Goat Trail sections B & C, at Carderock Recreation Area!
The route: From the westernmost Carderock parking lot, we’ll walk out to the C&O Canal towpath, turn left, and go down to enter Billy Goat Trail section B. After hiking the section upstream, from east to west, we’ll return to our start point via the canal towpath, a total of 3.2 miles. After a short break, we’ll enter Billy Goat Trail section C and hike downstream, from west to east, and return to our start point via the canal towpath, a total of 2.8 miles.
The walk is two loops, one for each section, for a total of 6 miles of smiles. It should take around 2.5 hours at a moderate pace, given the broken ground and time for breaks here and there. The surface is rocky paths along the Billy Goat sections and smooth gravel along the towpath sections. Might be some mud here and there, but with luck and lots of sun the two previous days, it shouldn't be too bad.
NB: Billy Goat trail section A is currently closed due to rising river levels. Sections B & C are open, but we'll keep an eye on the trail advisories.
A Google map of our route is here: http://tinyurl.com/oxdr8ue
How to get there: From the I-495 Capital Beltway (either direction), take exit 41 onto Clara Barton Parkway and follow signs for Carderock. On Clara Barton Parkway, take the first exit right at the brown sign marked "Carderock Carderock Div. NavSurfWarCen." After exiting, turn left to cross over Clara Barton Parkway, then continue straight, going around a curve and through a tunnel under the C&O Canal. At the T-junction, turn right and drive to the furthest parking lot to the west.
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes and your furry friend if desired (leashes are required). It's supposed to be cloudy and 42 degrees, so consider the layered look. There are some rocks and broken ground, so consider bringing a walking stick/poles if that's your thing. A camera is always a handy accessory.
Administrative stuff: There are public restrooms (sorry, they’re porta-johns) at the parking area. As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted.
NPS website (for park alerts): http://tinyurl.com/kasdbdd
NPS Great Falls trail map (pdf): http://tinyurl.com/nzfhxgr