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Passport to Nature

Billy Goat Trail Slideshow

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.

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