|Hike Name:||Billy Goat Trail A - Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park|
|Nearby Town:||Potomac, MD|
|Directions:||From I-495, take the exit for Great Falls/Carderock. Merge onto the Clara Barton Parkway, and take a left onto MacArthur Blvd. When you see the Old Angler Inn on the right, pull into the gravel lot on the left side of the road. Walk over the wooden bridge at the bottom of the road, and head right until you see the trailhead.|
|Total Hike Distance:||1.70 miles|
|Hike Difficulty:||Moderate to Difficult|
|Hike Type:||One-Way, Shuttle Hike|
|Hike Starts:||at east end of the trail, at about mile 12 of the towpath. There should be a sign at the trailhead to indicate the trail.|
|Hike Ends:||at the west end of the trail, about mile 14 of the towpath|
|Trails Used:||Billy Goat Trail A|
|Backcountry Water Sources:||Streams, Rivers|
|Management:||National Park Service|
|Contact Information:||Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park|
|Best Season:||Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall|
|Road Conditions:||Primary Paved Roads, Secondary Paved Roads|
|Hike Summary:||The Billy Goat Trail A is the rockiest segment of three separate segments of the Billy Goat Trail, which is part of the Maryland side of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, which is located on the Maryland-Virginia border. The trail is composed of many relatively challenging rock scrambles, which entertain both adults and children alike (but not dogs, I've observed).
The Billy Goat Trail A is marked as only 1.7 miles long, and is divided by trail markers into 4 segments, but witness its emergency exit (if you've had enough) at trail marker 2.
If you wish to start the trail at the east end, you should park in the gravel lot across from the Old Angler's Inn, cross the canal on the wooden footbridge, turn right, and find the trailhead on the left a little ways down the towpath.
(the western trailhead is closer to the Park parking lot, which requires a fee or National Parks pass to enter by vehicle)
Follow the blue blazes on both trees and rock, as the trail can be hard to discern at various points. This path isn't like most forest hikes, and is more of an all out-rock scramble that eventually takes you to a ridge overlooking the slow-moving Potomac. At one point, you'll also have to navigate a diagonal crack in a rather steep rockface. While it may look intimidation at first (from either direction), it's not too bad, as I've seen small children accomplish both the up- and down-climbs. The trail will eventually take you away from the river and back up to the towpath further along.