Hike Great Falls and the Billy Goat Trail

Maryland Billy Goat Trail, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Added by Elyse Clark

Billy Goat is a great hike and rock scramble close to Washington DC. Enjoy beautiful views of waterfalls on the Potomac River.

Just outside of Washington DC is a great hike and rock scramble you don't want to miss. Great Falls lies in both Virginia and Maryland and has beautiful views of the Potomac River.

Start out at the Great Falls Tavern parking lot (Maryland side), and keep in mind it is $10 to park here if you don't have a National Park pass. When facing the river, go left on the C & O Canal Towpath. You'll soon come to a side trail on the right to Olmsted Island. Check out this short path with boardwalks leading to the best view of Great Falls-dogs aren't allowed on this section.

After you check out Olmsted Island, return to the C & O Canal Towpath and turn right. Walk about 0.7 miles to the "Billy Goat Trail Section A", which branches off to the right. This is a one-way, well-marked trail that is 1.75 miles long. This section is very difficult and has challenging rock scrambles with traverses of up to 50' vertically. The best routes are well-marked, so stick to the blazed routes to ascend the rock scrambles safely.

The end of Section A of the Billy Goat Trail intersects the C & O Canal Towpath again, so turn left at this intersection and follow the Towpath for 1.9 miles back to your car.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Snacks
  • $10 for entrance fee
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Fitness, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



4.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

250 Feet



Easy Parking

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How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Easy trail

Very easy trail with boardwalks and beaten paths! the view from the outlook is beautiful! we saw guys on kayaks out in the middle! A group of people with a stroller were behind us and they managed the trail no problem!

about 1 month ago

about 1 month ago

toughie but goodie

Trail was very tough in terms of footing and it was also very dusty! Lots of wildlife on the trail we saw numerous lizards, a snake, and a lot of tree frogs. The vertical climb wasn't to bad and if you take the tow road back to the visitors center you only have to go up and not down! Overall good trail, very challenging, just the right distance for a good workout.

about 1 month ago

about 2 months ago


Great view of waterfalls. Something to add to a wish list

about 2 months ago

2 months ago


Rock formations are beautiful I photographed some of them. The hike was so nice although a bit tiring but it was all worth it! I hiked along the rock it probably would have been easier to hike the trail. It was a lovely drive to get there. Surprisingly easy to find! 10 out 10 would recommend

2 months ago

3 months ago

Nice Relaxing Way To Spend Outdoors

Beautiful drive to get there, Easy Parking and not too crowded, Hike by the river is very calming and relaxing, Cool way to spend my Saturday outdoors close to home :)

3 months ago

5 months ago

Great Hike

Did this hike and the view of the waterfalls from the outlook was awesome, the Billy goat A trail was closed due to flooding , so I did the Billy goat B and it was still a great hike. Will have to come back and do the A when I get a chance.

5 months ago

5 months ago

Scrambling (Free Parking)

I've been hiking this trail since I was in high school and haven't gotten bored yet! Scrambling over the rocks is a challenge, but doable for all skill levels. Just be prepared for a crowd on summer weekends. There's free parking across the street from Old Angler's, on the west side of MacArthur Road.

5 months ago

9 months ago

You can't go wrong with this hike. It's one of the most fun and most beautiful ones in all of the DC area. The rock scrambling is a lot of fun and can be tricky in parts so be sure to wear sturdy shoes. I've seen countless people here try to hike it in sandals with not so great results. The only downside is this place really draws in the crowds.

9 months ago

12 months ago

Rock scrambling with an amazing view

This is one of my favorite hikes! There is a lot of rock scrambling which requires using your hands to get up and around all of the rocks. The hike is right along the Susquehanna river is amazing views of the river as well as waterfalls. This is definitely one of the most beautiful places I've seen in the Mid-Atlantic region!

12 months ago

Added by Elyse Clark

Explorer. Hiker. Photographer.

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