Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Billy Goats in Maryland?

Hike date: June 9th, 2011

Mather Gorge

Rocky Section of Billy Goat A Blue Blaze in pic
One of the most challenging and rewarding day hikes near DC is right along the C & O Canal at Great Falls, MD.  If you are native to the Greater DC area, you've probably heard about this trail.  Billy Goat Trail A offers a variety of flat terrain and some moderate rock climbing for a nice hike/work out.  Even though dogs, horses, and bikes are prohibited on the trail, expect some company.  Due to the areas proximity to DC it attracts a lot of visitors just to see the Falls area so our best advice is to avoid this hike on the weekends if possible.

Prickly Pear Cactus
Be aware that heavy rains will cause the Potomac River to rise, flooding the trail and forcing the Park Service to close it.  Also, due to the sensitive habitat, be sure to stay on the trail.  While the trail isn't always a dirt path, often it goes over rocky outcroppings, it is well marked with light blue blazes.

Keep your eyes open for views of the many species of wildlife you could see while visiting the park.  Species you may see include blue & green herons, white-tailed deer, a variety of reptiels and amphibians and if you are lucky you may hear some of the many frogs and birds calling depending on the time of year you visit.

If the trail proves to be too much of a challenge, don't worry, about half way through the trail, there is an emergency exit that will take you straight to the canal towpath.

If you can stick it out, the view from atop the Mather Gorge is well worth it.

Overall this is one of our favorite hikes and we make it a point to do this one at least twice a year.  Don't forget some good hiking shoes with the tread in good shape!  One other note is that you may want to apply  a little bug spary on your legs becaue ticks and chiggers might be around during the summer months!  Happy Hiking!

Maintenance  ««««
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Terrain Variety «««
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