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The Outdoors Manual: How to Conquer the Billy Goat Trail

By Richard Luo


Nearly everyone in the DMV area has heard of the infamous Billy Goat Trail. It can be defined by its difficult terrain, breathtaking scenery, and direct exposure to the surrounding nature. In this quick read, I’ll be going over a few tips to help make your trip to the Billy Goat Trail memorable for the right reasons.


Tip #1: You Need Extra, Extra Water

While the amount of water you bring varies based on the amount of time you spend on the trail, it is always necessary to bring additional bottles of water on top of what you expect to be sufficient. This is because the Billy Goat Trail is more technical and strenuous than a typical hiking trail as a significant portion of the trail requires climbing over massive rocks and boulders, sometimes even making it necessary to travel on all fours. With so much effort needed to traverse the Billy Goat Trail, water becomes extremely crucial. Personally, I bring 4 plastic water bottles just to complete Billy Goat Trail A.

Tip #2: A Towel and an Extra Shirt are a Lifesaver

Especially on hot, humid days, the arduous Billy Goat Trail can make even those that tend not to sweat look like they took a sweat shower. At a few spots where hikers reach one of the peaks of the trail, they are directly exposed to the Sun. So while the scenery at the top of these cliffs is magnificent, it comes at a price of dripping sweat. As I have experienced before, on the way home or even in the middle of the trail, a soaked shirt becomes increasingly uncomfortable and inconvenient so a towel and a change of clothes are a lifesaver.

Tip #3: Bug Spray and Sunscreen

Bug Spray and Sunscreen are more crucial on the Billy Goat Trail than your typical hiking trail because the Billy Goat Trail’s deep assimilation in its natural environment comes at the price of a few bugs and greater exposure to the Sun. Fortunately, as long as you stay on the designated path and don’t touch anything peculiar, there is a low chance you will get bitten by a bug at all. Additionally, the sunscreen will be most effective around the peaks of the trail with very little trees and shade.


To many, the Billy Goat Trail seems very dangerous and daunting. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way. The reality is, if you take an extra 5 minutes to prepare proficiently and follow some of the tips, the Billy Goat Trail will just be another fun challenge.

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