Audio Tour

Bear Island / Potomac Gorge

Explore Bear Island and the Billy Goat Trail or take a virtual tour from home!

Just outside Washington, D.C., is an unusual meeting place for plants and animals. The Potomac Gorge encompasses a landscape of great ecological significance and stunning beauty, with 15 globally rare species.

Our audio guide will help you navigate Bear Island's renowned Billy Goat Trail, highlighting rare plants and native specimens such as the "Sigafoos tree". 


Visit the preserve page to plan your visit and then download the audio tour map (PDF). The numbers marked on the map correspond to the audio files in the tour.  You can also use the topics guide to customize your tour.

Next, download the audio files to your mobile device.  Cell service at many of our preserves can be unreliable.  We recommend you download the recordings and maps before you visit. Need a little help saving the files? Check out our step-by-step guide!


Deborah Barber is Director of Land Management for The Nature Conservancy’s Maryland/D.C. chapter.  She enjoys exploring nature both on her own and with others, especially her children, who often spot interesting things that adults miss.  She enjoys cooking, traveling, gardening, and learning about geology.



  1. Come Prepared
  2. Dogs and the Billy Goat Trail Section
  3. Great Falls Tavern
  4. Boat Tours
  5. The Great Falls Overlook
  6. Mary's Wall
  7. Common Trees Along the Canal
  8. Start of the Billy Goat Section
  9. The River's Edge on the Billy Goat
  10. Bedrock Terrace Habitat
  11. Sigafoos Trees
  12. Tree Species Along the Billy Goat
  13. Pothole Alley
  14. Potholes
  15. Metagraywacke
  16. River Erratics
  17. Along Pothole Alley
  18. Considering Turning Back
  19. The Asiatic Clam
  20. River Oats
  21. Coming Down off the Rock Terrace
  22. The Traverse
  23. Boat Ramp
  24. Emergency Exit
  25. Purple Horse Beach
  26. Snakes
  27. Maryland Chutes
  28. Ebony Spleenwort
  29. End of Billy Goat Section A
  30. Returning to the Tavern
  31. Wildlife Along the Canal
  32. Canal and Locks
  33. Building the Canal
  34. Washington Aqueduct Dam and Conn

(All files are .mp3 and should download automatically once clicked. If you have trouble downloading, right-click each file and then select "Save")

Learn more about the special places the Conservancy is helping to protect. Explore additional audio tours