A Trail and Some Wildlife: C&O Canal National Historical Park (aka: the Maryland-side of Great Falls)

Billy Goat A Trail at C&O Canal Park

Billy Goat A Trail at C&O Canal Park

I’d like to give a wee shout out to the Tattooed Lady for her most stellar recommendation to hike Billy Goat Trail.  Ice, snow, a bit of a breeze, a mother load of rocks to scramble over, and one might just call this a killer day.

The Greekanese and I had hoped to go hiking on Sunday, but alas, something I ate at dinner Saturday did not sit well.  Instead, I made it a mission to read two books and lounge in my jammies Saturday night through most of Sunday.  The down side to that lounging was a break in my ‘training’ for April.

Fresh snow fell in Maryland sometime Saturday-Sunday so when we got up to the Park on Monday (President’s Day Weekend) you could say the joy was written all over my face.  I’m fairly certain even the little kids running hell for leather all over the place had nothing on my inner-child.

We wound up parking at Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center to start our 8-mile hike and scramble.  This lot puts you just above the dam spanning the Potomac River and starts you at Lock 20.

A lock

A lock

You start out walking along the Tow Path which has one observation deck just across from the Visitor’s Center.  That path was a hot mess of ice and snow mix; definitely not something you want an older person walking down without the assistance of trekking poles at the very least.  We – okay, I – made a few “Oh, look!  Trails!” diversions which were, naturally, covered in ice.  If you need to find ice, I’m your girl.  I have a nitch for finding all things hazardous to one’s health.

We made our way down to a small beach head and scrambled up some rocks for a rather pretty view of the Potomac:

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Then we hopped the foot bridge taking us onto Olmstead Island for these shots:

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Then we found it: Billy Goat A Trail.  I won’t lie, pretty much every muscle in my body hurts today.  We scrambled, hopped, pulled up on, and narrowly missed face planting on more rock formations than I can count.  And yes, much to the amusement of The Greekanese, I slid on my keester – but so did he!  There are no photos from these incidents, but I will say, The Greekanese’s fall was far superior to my slide.  By the way, I did buy gloves (huzzah!), but stuck with the liners they came with:  Thank you Carhartt for offering sturdy gloves that kept my fingers warm and agile.

After scrambling our way through Billy Goat A Trail, it threw us back on the Tow Path where we slid, cursed, yet managed to stay on both feet heading south for some extra mileage and bird watching.  Or, in this case, majoritively attempting to avoid the mass of vultures perched along the trail.  Why were there so many scavenger birds?  Perhaps it was the poor little doe who fell through the ice in the canal and met her end.  Poor thing.  However, many children were given one of Mother Nature’s best taught lessons on the circle of life: If it dies, something will eat it.

Without further ado, the photos.

Shots from along Billy Goat A Trail:

Snowy forest along Billy Goat A Trail

Snowy forest along Billy Goat A Trail

Small waterfall making its way to the Potomac

Gorgeous day on the river taken along Billy Goat A Trail

Gorgeous day on the river taken along Billy Goat A Trail

Potomac River from along Billy Goat A Trail

Potomac River from along Billy Goat A Trail

Decided scrambling up this formation overlooking a pond was more fun than sticking to the trail

View of the river before it makes a sharp left

Kayaker making his way up to the falls - it was cold, bless their adventurous hearts

Kayaker making his way up to the falls – it was cold, bless their adventurous hearts

Serenity along the trail

Serenity along the trail

Some trees:DSCN0675

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Pretty sweet white tree on the other side of the Tow Path

Pretty sweet white tree on the other side of the Tow Path

Winged creatures (aka: birds)

Vultures in wait

Vultures in wait

I believe this is a Flicker (aka: Woodpecker)

I believe this is a Flicker (aka: Woodpecker)

Believe this is a Red-shouldered Hawk

Believe this is a Red-shouldered Hawk

Can you see the owl?

Can you see the owl?

Here's a close-up.  Believe this is a Barred Owl

Here’s a close-up. Believe this is a Barred Owl

Found this goose swimming along some calm waters.  The bird was a total camera ham.

Found this goose swimming along some calm waters. The bird was a total camera ham.

The goose posing

The goose posing

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3 comments

  1. Pingback: Oh, Winter! How I Love Thee!: A Hike and a Snow Walk | T's Adventures... Travel Shenanigans, Food and Other Stuff

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