Located in McLean, Virginia, Great Falls park is the perfect place for a casual picnic, a long hike or just a relaxing day together as a family. This beautiful park offers a wealth of things to see and do, and it is a favorite midweek and weekend getaways for many Virginians. In addition to locals, the park attracts many visitors from further away, and more and more people have been discovering this great family vacation getaway nestled in the heart of Virginia.
One of the preeminent features of the park, of course, are the spectacular waterfalls for which the park is named. The park offers visitors a chance to get a look at those waterfalls from three overlooks. All three overlooks are located within walking distance of the visitors center, making the center a great place to start the journey.
From the visitor center nature lovers can walk to all three waterfall lookouts. Many visitors will be pleased to know that overlooks two and three both offer ramps down to the viewing platform.
The River Trail at Great Falls park is another great way to get a glimpse of nature’s beauty. This trail offers wonderful views of the Potomac River, and it makes a great addition to the popular fall overlooks. In fact the River Trail can be easily accessed from the third overlook. Continuing on the trail will bring visitors to the banks of the Potomac, and further on to other trails in nearby Riverbend Park.
For those who prefer wheels to foot travel, Great Falls park offers some five miles of bike trails, along with a convenient bike rack behind the park’s visitor center. Cyclists should keep in mind that bicycles are not permitted on the trails to the waterfall overlooks.
Water plays a vital role at Great Falls park, and that theme continues with many kayaking and canoeing opportunities for visitors. Whitewater boating by kayak and canoe are two very popular pastimes for park visitors, with rapids ranging from moderate class II to extreme class VI rapids. Boaters should be realistic about their skill levels and get plenty of information about which parts of the river are the most challenging before they set out on their adventures.
Experienced climbers can often be seen scaling the sheer rock face near the falls, and climbing is another popular activity in Great Falls park. Difficulties range from 5.0 to a frightening 5.14, with most climbing routes rated between 5.5 and 5.9. Climbers need to know that all climbs are top rope and that the park does not permit any anchors to be drilled into the rock.
Those with tamer tastes may want to relax with a little fishing. Great Falls park offers a wealth of opportunities for anglers to enjoy their favorite hobby, and those who hold either a Maryland or Virginia fishing license are welcome. Visitors need to know that the park does not sell licenses; instead they can be purchased at nearby sporting goods stores, fishing outfitters, hardware stores and even some convenience stores. Visitors unfamiliar with local regulations should be sure to ask for a copy of those regulations when getting their license.
In addition to all these great activities, visitors to the park can enjoy some fifteen miles of hiking trails. Walking the trails is a great way to relax, unwind and melt away the stresses of daily life. It is no wonder Great Falls park has become such a popular destination for those who live in Washington and beyond.