Posts Tagged ‘Bill Goat Trail’

Hiking C&O Canal Historical Park, MD

21 April 2011

I was able to hike the Billy Goat A trail here at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park about a year ago, and wanted to come back and do some more hiking, in particular the B and C trails. Good idea, but the Potomac River had other ideas. There had been a LOT of rain the previous couple days, and the Potomac was seriously flooding. All three of the Billy Goat trails had parts under running water.

Summary: Flooded Potomac River, 10.0 miles more or less out-and-back, and about 200 ft altitude gain.

I did this hike last Monday, 18 April. I left the hotel out by Dulles Airport and got to the trail area about 1530. I parked at the Anglers Inn area again, put on my pack, and headed out. There is no water that I could find at the Anglers Inn area, so fill up before you come out. There is water at the Great Falls Tavern area.

I started off on a trail above the towpath (Berma Road), that is really a re-purposed road.

There are some really pretty bluffs above this road, and the trees are beautiful.

Eventually I saw a trail headed off at the Lock 16 loop area, so I turned there and started up a decent hill. There were a lot of trails in here. The trail was a bit more trail-like.

This area was stunning! The temperature was just right (high 70Fs), and partly cloudy overhead. The trees were tall and beautiful, there were leaves on the ground, and the terrain kept changing. Here are a couple examples.

I turned on the Gold Mine Loop and followed it for a while. There are a couple buildings that are the remains of gold mining operations that date back to just after the Civil War. A soldier in the area noticed gold dust, and realized that there was some gold in the quartz rock in the area. Several mining operations were set up; the process was to collect the rock, crush it up, and bathe it in mercury, which dissolved the gold. The mercury was boiled off (most collected for reuse), and the gold was left behind. There were a lot of quartz rocks around.

I ended up next to MacArthur Road, and thought I would walk down it to the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. I saw this camoflaged cell tower.

After I walked on the road for a while, I ran across an unmarked trail. I decided to head down that, and so was back in the trees. Eventually I ran across another segment of the Gold Mine Loop, and took it down to the Tavern area.

The river was right up to the bank of the Tavern area. There is a river overlook there, and it was a fine place to look at all that water.

The Tavern area has a lock preserved, along with the Tavern building that has been restored from post-Revolutionary times.

The Tavern was surrounded on the River side by some sandbags, so I’m guessing that the River was expected to come up even farther than it did.

This beautiful tree was near the parking area. I thought it was a cherry tree, but on post-hike review, it’s a Dogwood.

My plan was to take the Ford Mine Trail north from the parking area. The map I had showed the trail connected to the towpath, so I was going to come back on the towpath; it was 0.7 miles, so that made a nice 1.4 mile loop. Well, I walked out there 1.7 miles, and never found a bridge or anything like that. So I turned around and came back the same way.

It’s a beautiful trail. I saw a number of herdlets of deer. There were a number of stunning streams, including one that had a couple small waterfalls.

Eventually, I got back to the Tavern area, and kept walking down to the trail that leads to the Great Falls Overlook. That path was closed due to the floods, and there was some serious tumbling water here.

I ended up the hike by walking back down the towpath, past Billy Goat A, and to the parking area. Just as an FYI, there were a lot of people here, like the last time I was here.

Here is my path as downloaded from my GPS, followed by the terrain from Google Earth, and the altitude of the hike.

This was a really nice way to spend part of an afternoon. I got a great workout, and got to relax in a beautiful area less than five miles from serious urban area.

There are still two major trails down on the water, and a large number of forest area trails up on the hill. I’ll be back to hike them later.