The C&O Canal Trust is the official non-profit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park and works in partnership with the National Park Service to protect, restore, and promote the canal. The Trust seeks to ensure the Park’s  natural, historical, and recreational potential is fully realized.

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Resources for Canal Classroom Corps

Billy Goat Trail Stewards

We’re looking for volunteer trail stewards willing to hike all or part of the Billy Goat Trail, especially the challenging Section A, along the Mather Gorge of the Potomac River , or educate visitors at the trailheads, to protect the incredible natural resources of Bear Island, which this rugged trail traverses.


Stewards have been active now for several years, educating hikers about Leave No Trace principles, helping to ensure they are prepared for the strenuous hike, sharing stories about the geology, plants and animals of Bear Island and the Potomac Gorge, and reducing trampling of the Bear Island’s many rare plants.  Active Trail Stewards can go out any day of the week, can hike the whole trail or just part of it, or can stay near the trailhead and connect with hikers before they begin.  


Trail Stewards wear park volunteer identification, carry park radios for emergency communications, and are encouraged to take basic first aid training to help with minor injuries.  Trail Stewards are the eyes and ears for the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy, which co-own this unique and biologically diverse island, and help protect the rare habitats from the estimated 50,000 hikers annually on Section A of the Billy Goat Trail.  Trail Stewards have also been instrumental in reporting emergencies and hazardous situations to park staff for a more rapid response and assisting the Park as the Trail is closed from time to time because of flooding.


Trail Stewards should be avid and experienced hikers, 18 years of age or older, able to handle a strenuous two-hour hike with a 10 to 20 pound daypack and enjoy interacting with visitors in a rugged natural setting.