COVID-19 Update (March 31, 2020)
Bear Island is co-owned and co-managed by TNC and the National Park Service (NPS). The park service is modifying its operations on a park-by-park basis in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local public health authorities. Before visiting, please check the NPS C&O Canal National Historical Park website regarding changes to park operations.
The following closures are in effect:
- C&O Canal NHP visitor centers, including the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center
- Great Falls entrance road on MacArthur Boulevard
- The Great Falls Tavern parking area
- Restrooms, vault toilets, and portable toilets are closed throughout the park
Over many millennia, a rare combination of natural forces carved the unique Potomac Gorge. Running from Great Falls to Georgetown, this 15-mile section of the Potomac River is one of the most ecologically significant natural areas within our entire National Park System.
With your support, The Nature Conservancy has worked for more than 50 years to protect and restore the 9,700-acre Potomac Gorge natural area.
Hundreds of thousands of annual visitors — hikers, runners, bikers, fishermen, photographers and paddlers — enjoy the beauty of the Potomac River and the C&O Canal National Historical Park towpath.
The Potomac Gorge site features the popular Billy Goat Trail, two miles of strenuous hiking along Bear Island, which the Conservancy and National Park Service own and manage cooperatively.
Why TNC Selected This Site
The National Park Service invited TNC to help manage the incredible ecological diversity of the Potomac Gorge. The Conservancy and NPS co-own and co-manage Bear Island.
TNC also manages 10-acre Offutt Island, located in the heart of the Potomac Gorge. Offutt Island is accessible only by boat and is currently closed to the public.