Great Falls Park - Beautiful Scenic Park Near Washington
Great Falls Park is a beautiful 800 acre public park run by the National Park Service located along the scenic banks of the Potomac River about 15 miles northwest of downtown Washington, DC. Great Falls Park is located on the south shore or Virginia side of the Potomac River in Fairfax County. Along the north shore or Maryland side of the Potomac River is the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park which is also run by the National Park Service.
The scenery at Great Falls Park is spectacular as the Potomac River falls some 76 total feet over a series of drops at the northern end of the park at the Great Falls of the Potomac River.
The Great Falls of the Potomac marks the beginning of scenic Mather Gorge where the Potomac River flows through rock cliffs on both sides of the river.
Kayaking and whitewater rafting are popular activities in Great Falls Park as the water flow at the Great Falls of the Potomac River and below the waterfalls through Mather Gorge contains Class I to Class VI rapids. Rock climbing along the cliff faces lining Mather Gorge is also popular in beautiful Great Falls Park.
Hiking is the most popular activity in Great Falls Park and in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. From the Maryland side in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park hikers can take the Billy Goat Trail which starts above the Great Falls of the Potomac River and follows the Potomac River for 4.7 miles right through the Mather Gorge along the top of the rock cliff face on the north shore. The views from the Billy Goat Trail are often spectacular and quite beautiful.
From the Virginia side in Great Falls Park hikers can follow along the Potomac River from the waterfall through Mather Gorge on the River Trail.
Caution must always be used in both Great Falls Park and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park along the Potomac River as currents here can be strong and swift and swimming in the river is strictly prohibited. Roughly seven people drown in this area every year.
Great Falls Park on the Virginia side and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the Maryland side of the Potomac River are two beautiful scenic parks located near Washington, DC that are well worth visiting.
To reach Great Falls Park from Washington take Route 193 the Georgetown Pike north until you reach Old Dominion Drive and turn right and the park entrance is 1 mile up the road. To reach the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park from Washington take MacArthur Boulevard north until it ends at the park visitor center.
For more see Beautiful Castles in Washington DC