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“A Great Break from DC and Not Too Far”
Review of Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park
Ranked #1 of 21 things to do in McLean
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: An 800 acre park located just off the Potomac river.
Reviewed June 20, 2013

Great Falls National Park is about 15 miles from Washington DC. I had never heard of it until now. We were searching for local trails to hike and found this on a trail website. We went to the NPS site for more information (http://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm). There is a park fee of $5 per vehicle for three consecutive days or $3 per individual. Our NPS annual pass got us into the park.

We went on a weekend and it was crowded! We visited the Visitors Center first and walked past the expensive bookstore to get a free paper trail map from the NPS rep, then we headed out. We took the trail hugging the river and it was spectacular. It was crowded at first but it thinned out as the trail became more challenging and as we walked further away from the main built up area. The river trail is a good challenge, negotiating downed trees, boulders and steep climbs and it was well worth it. We combined the river trail with the ridge trail then doubled back when we intersected Difficult Run trail. That trail just leads to the main road and we wanted to avoid ending our hike along a main road.

There are several trails of different lengths and challenges. There are trails for families with small children and strollers, like the Old Carriage Road trail. I wouldn't recommend the river trail for small children unless one stays within the built up area (picnic area) because of the cliffs and steep climb further down the way on the trail.

Because of the crowds on the weekend, the main restroom by the Visitors Center was also crowded. There is another restroom at the intersection of Matildaville trail and Old Carriage trail. There is one kiosk area to buy some food, ice cream and drinks and it's typical expensive. We brought in our food and water and left with our refuse and some additional refuse left on the trail by some slobs...plastic water bottles. The park is a trash-free park so there are no trash cans. Take out what your brought in...minus whatever is deposited in the restroom.

Great Falls is a nice day trip for the entire family.

Thank BrotherO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 15, 2013

Great Falls Park is a gem. The falls themselves are spectacular. They are not quite Niagara, but after a heavy rain, they come close. The National Park Service has erected excellent viewing platforms. There are wonderful walks to be had. Walk downstream along the Mather Gorge along the rim of a spectacular canyon. Or walk upstream right along the river toward Riverbend Park. They are two of the most beautiful walks in the Washington area. Be warned that the park gets very popular on a beautiful weekend. By mid-afternoon, there may not be any more parking spaces.

Thank sptravelers5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 12, 2013

Doesnt matter if you wanna hike or just leisurely take a walk and enjoy nature, this place is perfect for that. The Falls are amazing and beautiful to look at, its nice and quiet.

Thank Norm T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2013

Great for a family day of hiking, rock scrambling, and cook outs. Every one is friendly and they even accept dogs. The rangers are always willing to tell you about the park and interesting tid bits. They are truly engaging and keep up a lovely display in the visitor center.

Thank Casey K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2013

This is a special place to hike and mosey around and bird watch while taking in the great views over the Falls...Paths are mostly paved with a few smooth unpaved paths for easy walking....We were told to watch out for rattlesnakes, though...But never saw any..

Thank Stephadele
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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