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Billy Goat Trail C Loop



2.9 mile 4.6 kilometer loop
97% Runnable


Ascent: 140' 43 m
Descent: -139' -42 m
High: 117' 36 m
Low: 57' 17 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 13% (7°)


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Trail shared by J Weitzner

A run with small inclines and rocks on the banks of the Potomac River.

J Weitzner

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Usually closed dusk to dawn in April or May for White Tail Deer population control.


This run is an easily achievable run, marked with regular blazes, which takes about an hour (hiking) for any moderately fit adult taking a few breaks to look at scenery along the way. There are a few spots where the trail is right up against the Potomac River so be sure you have good footwear as to ensure you don't accidentally fall in. The trail is maintained and is about 3 feet wide–plenty of room for you to not be brushing up against the foliage most of the time, but not wide enough for two people side by side. Note: This route can be used in the rain but it becomes very dangerous, as many spots are prone to wash-outs and the rock scrambles will fill up with fast-moving water making them extremely dangerous to cross.

Need to Know

NOTE: Swimming is prohibited on this trail due to the rapid currents of the Potomac and the danger they pose to inexperienced adventurers.

There are restrooms available some times of year on the right-hand side of the parking area. The trailhead is all the way at the leftmost corner of the parking area indicated with a small sign.

Runner Notes

Trail running is not ideal on this trail due to the amount of uneven footing from roots, rocks, and marsh.


There are 3 bridges on this loop, the largest is the bridge over the access road on the C & O Canal (Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath). The other, smaller bridges are just at the beginning and end of the trail about a five-minute walk in either direction from the parking area. The bridges are all well maintained and have railings.

The biggest challenge to runners on this loop is a 10-foot section of creek which has no bridge. The stream is crossed on rocks placed in the stream and is moderately difficult to cross, especially for children. The stream will rise to cover these rocks making the trail impassible within 10-15 minutes of steady rainfall.

Going around the trail leads you to many different habitats. Just on the shores of the Potomac are large pools filled with water which are semi-connected to the river. There is a sand bottom, and they are slow moving, or still, depending on the height of the river. There is also a heavily forested section of the trail with a very mulch-like trail surface. It is a little like a rainforest as the amount of natural material soaks up the heat and moisture.

NOTE: Swimming is prohibited on this trail due to the rapid currents of the Potomac and the danger they pose to inexperienced adventurers.

History & Background

This trailhead is across the Clara Barton Parkway from the Carderock Naval Surface Warfare Center which houses a large wave basin and wind tunnel for testing purposes.

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Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna

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in Maryland


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592 Since Jun 9, 2019



Check out the Billy Goat Trail for great views of the Potomac.
Mar 23, 2017 near Cabin John, MD


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