By Richard Luo
One of the most iconic and well-known trails in Maryland is the Billy Goat Trail. It’s located along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, a historic and scenic 184-mile trail, and attracts hundreds of visitors every day. One of the defining characteristics of the Billy Goat Trail is its difficulty and the endurance required to complete it. In fact, it is so strenuous, the trail is split into three parts: Billy Goat Trail A, B, and C. In this quick read, we’ll be examining Billy Goat Trail A.
As mentioned above, a unique aspect of the Billy Goat Trail is its difficulty. And Billy
Goat Trail A is the most difficult of the 3 sections. In total, Billy Goat Trail A stretches 1.75 miles. And even though that may not sound like much, the trail could take up from 2-3 hours to complete. This is because a large portion of the trail is more rock climbing than actual hiking.
Within the trail, there are many popular locations where people take breaks and take photos. One of the sites I personally favor is the summit of the trail. After a lengthy, arduous climb, you will approach a clearing at the top. Here, the rocks flatten out and you are presented with a picturesque view. On the left side, there are a multitude of trees which provide shade and cover. Located on the right side, is the scenery you will be taking pictures of and sending to your family and friends. It provides a perfect view of the rapidly flowing Potomac River down below and you can even wave to your fellow constituents on the other side of the river in Virginia. But even if you aren’t there for the view or scenery, the top of the trail is a great place to recharge your batteries. If you plan on hiking through lunch, I would highly recommend just having lunch there. There’s plenty of space and you get to enjoy the surrounding environment. Especially during the Spring and Summer, there is a refreshing breeze that makes the experience even more perfect. Ultimately, the summit is one of the highlights of the Billy Goat Trail.
Now that you know what the trail entails, your next question may be “What is the most efficient way to get there?” The most impactful factor you should consider in this process is the parking location. The two closest options are Anglers Parking (shown below) and Great Falls Parking. Anglers Parking is only around 1/2 a mile away while Great Falls Parking is around 1.5 miles away. Depending on how much walking or biking you want to do, either one may be the better option.
Hiking on the Billy Goat Trail is a great experience and an enjoyable challenge. Not only do avid hikers and athletes traverse the trail, those that don’t commonly participate in such activities find it a pleasant experience as well. Additionally, a half a day trip with friends and family after long work periods and daily stresses may be just what you would need to approach your tasks with a new mindset. In essence, getting exercise through activities such as the Billy Goat Trail not only improves physical health, but also elevates other aspects of your daily routine as well.