Gone Exploring

When you move to a new place, you gain a new perspective about where you are from as well as starting to better understand the place you are in. As I browsed social media over the last year or so since moving to DC, I noticed many of my friends here going hiking on local trails. I suppose I could do this in Pittsburgh, but it is not something that my friends or family and I have ever done before. My brother and I have biked through trails in downtown Pittsburgh, but we’ve never really hiked. Once I figured out that there were so many cool places to hike in DC, I knew I had to do this, but you know, first I had to actually make friends. Would you just randomly ask one of your acquaintances to go hiking with you?! Hahaha


Two weekends ago, my friend and I finally made plans to go to Great Falls National Park. Per her recommendations, we hiked on the Maryland side of the trails. There is a 4.7 mile loop called the Billy Goat Trail that runs between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. This is not your average dirt path through the woods or mountains…it is a very rocky climb!


We started out on the path near the C&O Canal and the Visitor’s Center, where we parked our car. There were so many people biking and walking their dogs on this path! I was thinking about how nice it would be to run here, but on second thought, I love city running. The woods are pretty, but there is always something new to see when you are running in the city! This also made me think about why my friends like to go to places like this so much…probably because it is a great escape from city life and it isn’t very far away.


The trail started out as a dirt path with a few boulders that you had to get over or around…and then we ran into this small creek. There was a makeshift bridge built for those too nervous to cross the tree trunk…but I decided to go the more adventurous route. 🙂 In all honesty, I wish I would’ve had a bag on my back or left my belongings in the car! I brought my phone and a water bottle and I wish my hands had been more free!


Once we crossed the creek, there was a lot of terrain that looked like this. This is REALLY where having my hands free would have been helpful! We never really had to climb straight up, but there were definitely times when I was reaching up for stability or leaping across to the next part of the rocky path and would’ve rather had two hands!


The best part of this hike is that it was very populated, so I never felt alone or scared in the woods. I’m sure more experienced hikers appreciate some solitude in the woods, but since I have never been to this park before, I liked all the human interaction. 🙂 My friend and I would often give advice to the people climbing right behind us or watch the people in front of us to see how they took their next steps!


On one of the first “look outs”, we were just kind of taking in our surroundings when I found this huge leaf! I attempted to carry it with me for a bit because it was seriously as big as my head, but it ended up just being another thing to hold. Photo evidence had to take the place of actual evidence that I found this. Ha!


Here, we were just coming up on Bear Island. So says Wikipedia, so say I. 😉 You can see how Kristen’s feet are kind of slanted, which shows the varying heights of the rocks we were tumbling across. We were making our way down to the edge of the water…


…where I pretended I was at the rocky beach. So fun!


The sun was especially pretty on this day, and also very appreciated. I was wearing two layers and a scarf and I was definitely warm enough, but in those moments when we stopped and weren’t moving, I needed a little sunshine to stay warm!


Below, you can see the “beach” area that I was just talking about. If you notice where the people are standing in the bottom corner, that’s where we were that was so rocky and right near the water!


But to take that picture of the “beach” and the other hikers, first we had to climb up the other side. There were blue markers for us to follow the whole time, but the hike definitely got more challenging (and more rocky) as we climbed on!




It was around this point that we were almost done with our hike. I was sad and wanted to turn around and go back the exact same way that we came so that we could be out there longer! It only took about 1.5 hours to walk, hike, take pictures, and hike some more, but it was the perfect Saturday afternoon activity! We then followed up our great outdoorsy-ness with a trip to Tyson’s Corner Center, which included Starbucks, clothes that we definitely don’t need, The Cheesecake Factory, and a new movie in theaters called “Love The Coopers” (which you should definitely see because it was filmed in Pittsburgh!).

So tell me…have you been hiking before?


Linking up with Katie!



6 thoughts on “Gone Exploring

  1. I really want to do the Billy Goat trail! My biggest complaint about living in DC/MD area is that there are no mountains and the nearest hiking is really Charlottesville. But this one is one I’ve been scoping out for awhile now. At this rate, I probably won’t make it until spring but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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