Hike the River Trail in Great Falls Park

McLean, Virginia

Details

Distance

3 miles

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Alyssa Gregory

A fun hike with some light rock scrambling along the cliffs of the Potomac River in Great Falls Park.

When you get to Great Falls Park, you will have to pay $10/vehicle to enter and park in their lot. If you walk/bike in, it's $5/person. There are bathrooms and a concession window where you can buy food and drinks. The only trash cans in the park are located here, so please remember to carry out any trash to dispose of here and don't leave it on the trails.

Before you start on the trail, make sure to check out the nice lookout points. There are 3 on the left after you pass the visitor center. These give you a nice view of the falls and on some days you can watch kayakers going over them.

After you check out the lookouts, continue walking south with the river on your left. When you reach a fork, stay to the left to get on the River Trail. There is some rock scrambling on this trail but nothing too challenging. There are some spots where you can climb on the rocks right to the edge of the cliffs. You'll get a great view of the river and the gorge, but be very careful because there are no barriers to catch you if you slip off the rocks.

The River Trail ends where it connects with the Ridge Trail. Here, you can either turn around and go back the way you came, or you can make a right onto the Ridge Trail and then another right (after about a third of a mile) onto Old Carriage Road, which will take you back to the visitor center. You can take Old Carriage Road back if you want a change of scenery (although the scenery is nicer on the River Trail), or if you're tired and don't want to do all the rock scrambling again. Old Carriage Road is about 1.7mi long (and the River Trail is 1.5mi), so the round trip is going to be 3mi if you do it out-and-back, or 3.5mi if you take the Old Carriage Road back. Enjoy!

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Features

Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area
River

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Leave No Trace

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