If you are ever in the DC area on a nice day, I highly recommend getting outdoors and slightly away from the city. We recently ventured to Great Falls Park in McLean, VA to enjoy some great outdoors Our weather has been awful lately so we were sure to take advantage of a warm, sunny day. I think everyone in NOVA was itching to get outdoors because it seemed like they all had the same idea that we did.
An easy drive from I-495, Great Falls Park is a lovely place to spend a day. It’s $10/car or $5/person on foot to enter the park, but there are also several small lots along Georgetown Pike. You can park in these areas and enter the park on the opposite side of the river for free. You can also enjoy looking at the plethora of mansions along the drive to the park.
Even though the park was very busy, it didn’t feel crowded. At 800 acres, there’s plenty of room for everyone. There is a large parking lot and an overflow lot. The Visitor’s Center has some educational information about the park and how the Falls were used in the past. My son really enjoyed sitting in the kayak on display. There are tons of picnic tables, public restrooms (always helpful), a water bottle refill station, and a small snack bar. Dogs are also welcome as long as they are on leash and you clean up after them. Our pooch enjoyed her time at the park.
There are several overlooks where you can view the Falls. The Falls are really beautiful. It is an impressive spectacle with the water rushing down and the whirlpools swirling.
We took the River Trail for a short hike. It was a fairly easy loop for the kids and took us along the top of the river as far as the ruins of the old locks. The boy enjoyed climbing around on the boulders and watching people rappel down the rock face towards the river. Our daughter enjoyed the walk and checking out the old locks.
I personally enjoyed the easy hike through the woods along the river. There are several trails to follow through the park, some longer than others. I love looking up into the trees when we stop for water breaks and saw this really lovely tree on the way back to the Visitors Center.
I hope that if you are ever in the area, you take a little while to enjoy this beautiful park. If you know of any other great parks in the DC area, let me know. We’d love to enjoy those too!