The Great Falls Park, Virginia

The Great Falls - Virginia
The Great Falls – Virginia

Originally we went out looking for Billy Goat Trail… but, we got lost and ended up on the Virginia side instead of Maryland (it’s a long story). Of course we made the best of it. This place was awesome! Coming from Miami, we have no mountains, so hiking is out of the question. We had so much fun hiking the trails and appreciating the view. I enjoyed every single second of it. On this specific day there was a nice overcast so it kept us from getting sun burnt or getting too hot. It was also pretty breezy so it worked out perfectly! The trails were great. There are some vintage photos and information on the specific landmarks around the park such as the dam. If you take the time to read them, there is a lot to learn. This was by far one of my favorite things to do in Virginia and I totally recommend it!  For some more info on the park continue reading below.

Great Falls Park is part of the National Park Service (NPS) in Virginia, United States.  The park offers many opportunities to explore history and nature.  It is situated on 800 acres of pure, beautiful, and protected land.  The Great Falls lies along the banks of the Potomac River along with the remains of the Patowmack Canal.  The Patowmack Canal was partially funded by George Washington and began operating in 1785, making it the first canal in the U.S. that used locks to lift and lower boats. The canal measured approximately one mile (1.6 km).  The purpose of the canal was to allow small barges to border the falls and distribute manufactured goods and raw materials.  In 1966, Great Falls Park was transferred to the NPS.

The park is easy to access and offers many amenities. There is a $5 entrance fee per vehicle and $3 for walk ins per person. Hint: you’re better off bringing everyone along in a vehicle.  The park has viewing platforms that provide visitors with convenient points that overlook the falls in different locations throughout.  There is a visitors center near the falls where you can ask questions or pick up a map if they didn’t already provide you with one at the entrance.  The park accommodates up to 600 vehicles.  It contains picnic tables for gatherings, BBQ’s and more.  There are 15 miles of hiking trails and a small stream known as the “Difficult Run”.  There is also a scenic trail near the river that runs up to Difficult Run, continues to Mather Gorge and extends through the falls, a dam, and a reservoir.  The trails are marked so you can easily follow the route you have chosen on your map.  There are usually park rangers around in case you have questions or concerns, whom are very friendly and are there to help make your experience even better.  Feel free to wander off and look at the little creeks.  You’ll notice some extraordinary things. During our visit we stumbled across a river filled in moss with little frogs jumping around.  It was pretty beautiful… if you like frogs.

http://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm

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Photo by: Melissa Mederos – The Great Falls
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