Billy Goat Trail—All Sections

A man and boy look into the Potomac river
Adult & child look out from Purplehorse Beach to Potomac River

NPS Photo


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People scramble up the Billy Goat Trail
Hikers scramble up a section of Billy Goat Trail-A

NPS photo

Choose Your Trail

Located southeast of Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, in Potomac, Maryland; The Billy Goat Trail, one of the busiest trails in the D.C. area, contains three different sections that total eight miles and provide fun and adventure for all ages. Please check Current Conditions before your trip to confirm the trail that you want to hike is open.

Section A—1.75 miles

  • No dogs alllowed
  • Technical and Strenuous
  • Beginning July 3, 2020, Billy Goat Trail-A will be recommended ONE-WAY going downstream:
    • Start at the upstream entrance near Great Falls and end downstream near Anglers
    • One-way travel reduces the number of encounters with other visitors
    • One-way travel prevents hiker "jam-ups" at the Traverse and other narrow areas of the trail
    • One-way travel protects natural habitats
    • The Exit Trail (half way point) will still be two-ways, so hikers can choose just the top half or bottom half of the trail.
  • Are you ready to hike Billy Goat Trail sec. A? Check out our safety video for more information, recommendations, and a preview of trail conditions.

Section B—1.4 miles - CLOSED due to trail damage and erosion

  • Dogs Allowed
  • Challenging
  • Close parking available from Anglers

Section C—1.6 miles

  • Dogs Allowed
  • Easier
  • Parking available at Carderock

What to bring

  • Good, comfortable, broken-in, hiking shoes that grip well on rocks and hills; The majority of injuries—sprained ankles, tweaked knees, and falls—happen because people did not wear good shoes.

  • Two liters of water per person
  • Snacks
  • Suncreen and a hat
  • A map


  • Access all three of the sections from the towpath between Great Falls Tavern and Carderock (Anglers is between section A and B).
    • If you’re hiking Section A, parking at the Great Falls Tavern provides the closest access to the beginning of the trail.
    • If you're hiking Section B, parking is avalaible at the Anglers area downstream from Great Falls.
    • If you’re hiking Section C, Carderock recreational area is the closest parking lot.
  • The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center provides a place (Wednesday through Sunday) to get more information about hikes and the history of the area. The bathrooms by the Great Falls Tavern parking lot are open daily.

Proceed with caution

  • Don't become a statistic. There are over 400 emergency calls and rescues each year on the Billy Goat Trail.
  • Wading and standing on rocks at the water’s edge are extremely dangerous. One false step can have dire consequences. Fines of $200 or more may be charged for swimming in the Potomac River along the trail. If you’re interested in learning why this part of the river is so deadly, check out this article in the Washington Post.

Leave No Trace

  • Protect fragile plants by staying on the trail.
  • Follow the blue blazes that mark the path.
  • Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. This is a trash free park. If you pack it in, pack it out.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Map showing one-way trail direction going downstream.
Billy Goat Trail Recommended One-Way Map

Photo Credit: NPS

Hiking trails of Great Falls, MD

  • More than half a dozen trails and paths surround the Billy Goat Trail, including the towpath,The River Trail, Gold Mine Loop and Spurs, the Ford and Mine Trail. Visit our map webpage for more info.
  • Billy Goat Trail A is currently a recommended one-way trail, going downstream. One-way travel prevents hiker "jam-ups" at the Traverse and other narrow areas of the trail, protects natural habitats, and reduces the number of encounters with other visitors. The Exit Trail (half way point) is a two-ways to allow hikers to choose just the top or bottom half of the trail


2020 Great Falls Hiking Map
2020 Great Falls Hiking Map


Last updated: December 15, 2020

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Mailing Address:

142 W. Potomac St.
Williamsport, MD 21795



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