fbpx Skip to main content

The Billy Goat Trails in Potomac, MD, are some of the most popular trails within the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP). Each year, millions of visitors come to the Park seeking recreational opportunities. Have you considered exploring some of the Park’s trails less traveled? This not only allows you to explore new areas in the Park but also allows a reprieve for the more heavily accessed trails. Much like the flow of a river carves its path, so do footsteps on trails. So, while exploring more of your local national park, you can also help protect the longevity of our favorite trails.

So, let’s take a look at some of the trails less traveled. Shall we?

The River Trail

Just upstream from Great Falls Tavern The River Trail follows the Potomac. It is an easier trail than Billy Goat A by being a bit shorter and having a more level terrain. This 2-mile roundtrip adventure will take you to see rapids, rocky outcrops, and nature views including eagle nests.

Ford Mine Trail

The Ford Mine trail is a 2.7-mile trail that begins at the far end parking lot at Great Falls. A moderate trail that is mainly located in the woods with a creek crossing, it begins as a straight path that then leads to the loop. Following the loop counterclockwise will start your journey uphill, whereas following clockwise will take you downhill to start your journey. Note while this trail does have some structural remnants if you would like to see more evidence of mines we recommend checking out the Gold Mine Trail.

The Gold Mine Trail

Ranger Betsy describes it best, “The Gold Mine Trail is a three-mile loop that usually takes about an hour to complete. It truly is a trail for all seasons. Its towering trees will protect you from the harsh sun in August, provide shelter from spring rains, and give you a glorious show of autumn color in the fall. During the winter snows, look for footprints of the many woodland creatures that call the Gold Mine Trail home.” The trail connects the Great Falls and Anglers sections of the park, featuring offshoots like the Spur Trails and the Overlook Trails. This is a trail for the nature lover with its diverse plant and animal life. To learn about the history of the mine you can read the wayside exhibit located on the trail.

The Tunnel Hill Trail

The Tunnel Hill Trail provides an alternative to walking through the Paw Paw Tunnel. Trading in just under a mile walk through the tunnel for a 3.7-mile hike may seem like an unnecessary detour to some but the views along the trail make it worthwhile to many. Fusing history and nature this trail has it all. This trail is rated moderate to strenuous.

Remember to Recreate Responsibly

National parks offer visitors great opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation, connect with nature, and learn about history, but whichever park you choose to visit, it is important to always recreate responsibly.

Before You Go
When you head out into your local national park, always check for Park conditions and weather updates. Always bring necessary supplies, such as water and any additional safety gear. Having a backup plan can save you from making difficult decisions later.

While in the Park
Be kind and respectful to those you meet on the trail. In addition to respecting others in the Park, remember to show the Park respect as well. This includes following the Leave No Trace/Leave It Better principles. Please keep all trash with you until it can be placed in a proper receptacle. The C&O Canal NHP is a trash-free park! If you find trash within the Park please exercise caution if you pick it up. Please do not remove natural resources without approval – this includes plants, wildlife, rocks, etc.

Learn more tips for recreating responsibly.