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Gold Mine Loop (C & O Canal National Historic Park)

This trail is a more gentle alternative to the Billy Goat Trail A at C & O Canal National Historic Park. It contains some elevation changes and rocky terrain but does not require any climbing or rock hopping. The trail provides a pretty trek through the woods and a good opportunity to get your dog some exercise.
Distance: 
3.7mi
Difficulty: 
Moderate
Scenery: 
Fair
Location: 
Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center
11710 MacArthur Boulevard
20854 Potomac, MD
Metro Accessible: 
No
Additional Directions: 
Be careful when punching in directions to a phone or GPS. You do not want to end up on the Virginia side of the Falls in Great Falls Park. Make sure that you are headed to the Park entrance on MacAurthur Blvd.
What to Bring: 
Trail Map. Water and snack. Bug spray. Money to enter the park ($5 per car).
Food Options: 
There is a place to purchase food (hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, etc.) and drink south of the parking lot but north of the Visitor's Center. However, the hours seem somewhat sporadic during the week. You are best served bringing your own water and a snack.
Additional Information: 

Begin by walking south from the parking lot. You will pass a white building with picnic tables in front followed by a set of bathrooms before getting to the Visitor's Center. Go left around the Visitor' Center and keep to your left along the edge of the trees. After a short distance (~100yds) you should see the trail head for the Gold Mine Loop.

Blue markers (paint on trees, see pictures) are placed along the Gold Mine Loop portion of the trail to keep you on track.

The beginning of the hike is an ascent. After about 0.65mi you will need to make a right. Keep an eye out for a tree with the blue markers pointing you to the right. IT IS EASY TO PASS THIS TURN, SO KEEP A CAREFUL EYE OUT. If you do not make the correct turn, you will end up on MacArthur Blvd. across the street from houses. In this case back track until you find the turn.

After about another 0.25mi, the trail will bend to the left and you will pass a post signifying the the Overlook Trail. Pass it and continue on the Gold Mine Loop by following the blue trail markers. You will go about another 0.5mi before coming to the Falls Rd spur. To your left you will see the Maryland Mine. Make a right to continue along the Gold Mine Loop. Continue along the trail for about a mile. You will past posts for the Rockwood Spur, Valley Trail, and the Anglers Spur.

The trail will eventually bend to the right. You will cross a small creek and pass the entrance for the Woodland Trail. Continue along the Gold Mine Loop for another 0.25mi until you come to the Lock 16 Spur trail post. At this point we suggest you take this trail to avoid overlap with trail you already hiked. However, the Lock 16 Spur is a bit rocky. If you are uncomfortable with this, continue walking along the same trail. It will eventually lead you back to the Overlook Trail post (mentioned above). Make a left and follow the trail back to the Visitor's Center.

After making the left onto the Lock 16 Spur, continue until it dead ends. Note that you are no longer looking for the blue markers. Make a right at the canal and continue for about 0.25mi until you reach the Stop Gate (on your left). Cross the bridge and walk down the stairs. Continue going the same direction you were going before crossing the bridge. You will come to the Visitor's Center in about 0.6mi.

Disclaimer: 
Environmental conditions in cities, parks, etc. can change rapidly and without our knowledge. We do not make any claims as to the accuracy of information presented on this page. Further, hiking can be a dangerous activity that may result in bodily harm and possibly death. We hope the information that we provide will help you prepare for your hike, but do not imply that the information provided is complete. It is your responsibility to prepare yourself for whatever challenges you may face. If you decide to use any of the information on this page, you do so at your own risk.
Images: 
Gold Mine Loop, C & O Canal National Historic Park
Gold Mine Loop, C & O Canal National Historic Park
Gold Mine Loop, C & O Canal National Historic Park
Gold Mine Loop, C & O Canal National Historic Park
Gold Mine Loop, C & O Canal National Historic Park
Gold Mine Loop, C & O Canal National Historic Park

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