Scenes from the Billy Goat Trail

If you live in the DC Metro Area and have never hiked the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls, you are missing out. It’s a fantastic trail and been a long time favorite of H’s and mine. Ruth had never done it and requested we go this weekend when we were discussing a possible family outing. It was a perfect day for hiking, cool and somewhat overcast but dry.

I wasn’t sure how Ruth would do, it’s rated as a difficult trail, although I think it’s probably not as difficult as the NPS makes it sound. There are a lot of rock scrambles and climbing. And although there is one mid-trail emergency exit it’s the kind of thing where a tired and grumpy kid could make the whole experience miserable.


She did great. She basically spent the whole outing saying things like, “This can’t stop me.” and “This is so easy.” Or she was saying “Watch yourself here, Mommy, it’s a little slippery.” or “Mommy, why don’t you go that way, I’lll take the hard way.” I wasn’t sure whether to be touched or slightly insulted. We joked that she was basically like Dora in the new Geico commercial, “What took you so long?”


I will say I’m not sure every or even most just-turned-six year olds could do this trail. She is fairly athletic and used to trying to keep up with both big brothers. She is also fairly fearless and amazingly confident. The confidence astonishes me sometimes. I can’t remember if I ever felt that way but I know I doubt myself much more now than she ever seems to. I hope that her confidence is something that stays with her into adulthood even through all the turbulent years of puberty and adolescence. I have to admit I was just as worried about my own abilities to do the trail now as I was about hers. It had been awhile since I had hiked it and my overweight, out of shape, forty-something year old body with arthritic knees isn’t at good as rock scrambles and climbing as when H. and I did this trail together for the first time about 20 years ago.


I did ok. I figure I might not be the most fit Mom. Or the most talented Mom. Or the coolest or prettiest or thinnest. But I would like my kids to see me as the Mom who was willing to try new things (or old things that are new again) and to try things out of my comfort zone. Arthritic knees and all.

2 thoughts on “Scenes from the Billy Goat Trail

    • A, great post. First off the trail looks crazy fun and well done taking it on. I often wonder with my own kids…..”will they even remember doing (fill in the blank)?” And honestly, many things will be forgotten as they get older and begin venturing off and crafting their own adventures. However, I do believe that what will stay with them (aside from pictures….and musings) as they grow up and eventually out is that “my family did things together”….whether museums, historical sites, national parks…and even a billy goat trail. I think that’s one of our desires as parents is to create a lasting imprint on their lives that family matters and doing things together…even outside our comfort zone…is special and worth doing. 🙂

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