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  • My hike starts at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park.
  • From the historic canal towpath, a spur trail leads to the Great Falls Overlook.
  • Potomac River program director Stephanie Flack enjoys the crisp air and roar of the Great Falls.
  • The Mather Gorge rim rewards you with excellent views across the river to the 70-foot cliff on the Virginia side. How many rock climbers can you spot over there?
  • Pothole Alley offers evidence that this globally rare bedrock-terrace habitat used to lie under the river.
  • The colors of the season are always present and well worth stopping to admire.
  • Do look down! Notice the variety of plants clinging to life on the rocks and springing up through crevices.
  • Can you make out the hiker way down below? He’s just getting started on the scramble up The Traverse.
  • See that blue blaze up there? They don’t call this the Billy Goat Trail for nothing.
  • Purple Horse Beach is sprinkled with fascinating rocks scoured and smoothed by the elements and the river.
  • The picturesque canal towpath leads back to Great Falls Tavern and the end of my 3.7-mile loop hike.
  • Back at the parking area, take time to view the Washington Aqueduct, which provides water to more than a million people in the D.C. area.
Passport to Nature
Billy Goat Trail Slideshow

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