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Many sights and sounds along this 4-mile circuit hike give reason to the crowds you'll encounter.

The Billygoat Trail is one of the area's most popular hikes. Scenic views that include the Potomac River and Mather Gorge draw weekend crowds. The difficulty of this trail does not deter the common explorer. As one of the most popular hikes in the Washington areas, the rocky trail carries you along the edges of Bear Island, just downstream of Great Falls. Once owned by the Potomac Electric Power Company, the 96-acre island was originally destined for a hydroelectric plant. Reoccurring floods led to the abandonment of the idea and a land contribution to the Nature Conservancy which passed along the administrative duties to the National Park Service. The trail is vividly marked with signs and blue trail markers. There is a reason why this trail is named Billygoat. The beginning of the trail requires crossing rocky hills, steep ravines, and scrambling a rock face while the return trip offers a level-walking surface.

Directions: From Washington, D.C., Travel the Clara Barton Parkway north 1.5 miles to MacArthur Boulevard. Turn left and travel to Falls Road. This is one of the C&O's entrances. Enter the area and travel to the large parking lot across from Old Angler's Inn. Trail begins at the lower road.

Elevation: 200 feet

Elevation Gain: 130 feet

Usage: Heavy

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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