Great Falls Park (9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean Virginia) is an 800-acre park located along Washington’s famous Potomac River. In addition to its spectacular natural beauty, it’s location next to downtown DC makes it popular with both local residents and visiting tourists alike.
The park is located in both Maryland and Virginia. In addition to offering hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and horseback riding, the park also offers great views of the falls themselves. For those interested in the best views, there are three recommended vantage points. Overlook 1 provides the closest view while Overlooks 2 and 3 are wheelchair accessible.
If you follow the River Trail, beginning at the downstream of the falls, you can see the Mather George. Above the Visitor Center, the upper Canal Trail leads to the head of the Falls as well as Aqueduct Dam. If you are on the Virginia side, there are 15 miles of hiking trails available to get to the Falls. Here is a trail map
The Great Falls Park Visitor Center also offers maps and information about the available historical exhibits that can be seen. There is also a video presentation on the history of the park and a children’s section to keep the kids occupied if they start to get tired.
The Great Falls Park Rangers offer talks on Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the Ranger Area near Overlook 3.
The Maryland side of Great Falls Park is part of the C & O Canal National Historic Park and is located off of Falls Road in Potomac. On this side, there are two overlooks both located near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. Toward the north, the Washington Aqueduct Observation Deck offers a view of the upper falls. On the south side, the Olmstead Island Bridges also feature amazing observation spots.
The Maryland side also offers the Billy Goat Trail, which is meant primarily for more advanced hikers.
In terms of admission, there is a $5 entrance fee for all vehicles including motorcycles and a $3 fee for those entering the park on foot, horseback or bicycle. The entry fee works for three consecutive days at both parks.
There is an entrance fee of $5.00 per vehicle, including motorcycles and a $3.00 fee for visitors entering the park on foot, horseback, or bicycle. The entry fee is good for three days at both parks.