Great Falls Park is home to 3 Billy Goat Trails and here we’re looking at the easiest of the 3 – Billy Goat Trail Section C.
The trail follows the Potomac River up and down the steep river bank. You’ll find the trail tread is both rocky and smooth.
Here we cover what you should expect so you can have a day of fun with the family.
While the Billy Goat Trail Section C is the easiest of the 3 Billy Goat trails, it is a 1.6 mile hike.
Along the hike you’ll see blue blazers to follow. The trail will stray off in different directions, so just make sure to continue following the blazers.
You’ll notice this particularly at a large bridge crossing half way and at the end of the Billy Goat Trail when it makes a sharp turn to the left.
Hikers will climb rocks and cross streams and there is one creek crossing without a bridge.
The last third of the hike is on the wide and flat C&O tow path.
This hike is best for kids five years and older due to the hills and rocky terrain.
What’s to See & Do
- The wildlife – snakes, fish, blue heron, ducks, geese, turtles in the canal, skunks (look in dead tree trunks), toads, box turtles, and deer along the trail.
- Vernal pools and frogs.
- Many varieties of wild flowers in April (e.g. Virginia blue bells, phlox, may apples and many more).
- Lots of rocks to climb. This is an area known for rock climbing.
- After the stream crossing, there is a big, flat rock on the river’s edge for a rest, snack or picnic lunch. This is also a great spot for playing in or next to the water.
- Watching kayakers on the river.
- Seeing a waterfall.
Fees & Pricing
The Billy Goat Trail itself is free, however, Great Falls Park does charge a fee to enter and there are a few options to consider:
Vehicle Permit: $20
This permit allows everyone inside the vehicle to enter the park. You can also use this permit to enter the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Individual Permit: $10
If you arrive at the park on foot, bicycle or horse, it only costs $10 to enter, however you pay per person. Ages 15 and under do not have to pay.
The individual permit also gives you access to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Annual Pass: $35
Another option you have is to purchase an annual Great Falls Park pass. This gives you access to Great Falls Park and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park all year long.
This works for regular vehicles entering the park as well as for individuals. The pass holder and 3 additional adults (16+) will be admitted.
America The Beautiful Pass: $80
This pass gives you access to 2,000 federal recreation sites, so if you plan to visit a lot of places, this is a great option.
Getting There & Parking
Take the Caderock exit off the Clara Barton Parkway. Follow the signs to the Park.
The Carderock recreational area is the closest parking lot. Drive to the last parking lot where the trail head kiosk is located.
Good to Know Before You Go
- This area of Great Falls and the Canal is very busy on the weekends. There is some difficulty finding a parking spot.
- This trail is NOT jogging stroller passable.
- Many different user paths off the trail. Follow the blue blazes.
- Trash free park – pack your garbage out.
- Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails
Things to Do Near Billy Goat Trail Section C
If you have more time left in the day and are looking for some more fun nearby, these are some great options to consider:
- See the beautiful flowers at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (13 minutes away)
- Cool off at the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole (19 minutes away)
- Visit the amazing animals at Roer’s Zoofari (17 minutes away)
- See a show at Wolf Trap (11 minutes away)
- Experience the waterfall at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve (5 minutes away)
- Hop across the stream on rocks at Difficult Run Stream Valley Trail (12 minutes away)
- Visit the animals at the National Zoo (30 minutes away)