Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP: Billy Goat Trail-Towpath Loop

Revisit the early shipping days of the Potomac Valley on a 5.6-mile circuit of this 155-year-old route. Along the way, marvel at the East's steepest, most spectacular fall-line rapid.
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Revisit the early shipping days of the Potomac Valley on a 5.6-mile circuit of this 155-year-old route. Along the way, marvel at the East's steepest, most spectacular fall-line rapid.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.6

Waypoints

BG009

Location: 38.9966201782227, -77.2485275268555

Turn L @ 3-way for Great Falls Overlook Trail; retrace path and continue N on towpath

BG001

Location: 38.9817581176758, -77.2278213500976

Angler's Inn trailhead; cross C&O Canal; head NE on towpath

BG002

Location: 38.9832000732422, -77.2346572875976

Bear L onto Billy Goat Trail Section A, following blue blazes. Skirt E shore of Potomac

BG003

Location: 38.9795112609863, -77.236442565918

Follow blazes to R; navigate tough rock scramble

BG004

Location: 38.9808807373047, -77.2378234863281

Cross small creek over natural bridge; look for turtles basking in pond

BG005

Location: 38.9814414978027, -77.2401962280274

Scramble up rocks for view of Mather Gorge and lunch spot near Purplehorse Beach

BG006

Location: 38.9824485778809, -77.2414932250976

Continue straight past emergency exit trail; note Spitzbergen Cliffs to S

BG007

Location: 38.9861793518066, -77.2456130981445

Look for climbers on Mather Gorge across the river

BG008

Location: 38.9934883117676, -77.2454299926758

Head N on towpath toward Great Falls

BG010

Location: 39.0001792907715, -77.2477798461914

Visit Great Falls Tavern for canal history and water before turning S on towpath

BG011

Location: 38.9931411743164, -77.2450866699219

Follow detour across canal; head S on Berma Rd. back to trailhead

View up Potomac

Location: 38.9816703796387, -77.2406387329102

View north up Potomac River ©Jeff Chow

Rock Scramble

Location: 38.979736328125, -77.2368469238281

Navigate up crags. ©Jeff Chow

The Great Falls Overlook

Location: 38.9967422485352, -77.2520751953125

Overlook of falls ©Jeff Chow

Mather Gorge

Location: 38.9871559143066, -77.2454681396484

Mather Gorge ©Jeff Chow

Canal and boat

Location: 38.9965400695801, -77.2494125366211

Cheasapeake and Ohio Canal Historical remnants ©Jeff Chow

Local Faunae

Location: 38.9905967712402, -77.2459716796875

Nature at work. ©Jason Pereira

Fall from overhead

Location: 38.9967803955078, -77.2507781982422

Great Falls from above ©Jeff Chow

Bridge over stream

Location: 38.9818954467773, -77.240234375

Two paths in woods ©Jeff Chow

Unnamed bridge

Location: 38.9815254211426, -77.2281265258789

©Jeff Chow

Gravel towpath

Location: 38.9826354980469, -77.2309036254883

Hiking the Billy Goat Trail ©Jeff Chow

Local Flora

Location: 38.9895896911621, -77.2461242675781

Pipe plant ©Jeff Chow