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“Unique "to-do" near DC”
Review of Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park
Ranked #1 of 21 things to do in McLean
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: An 800 acre park located just off the Potomac river.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

I have been to Great Falls Park a few times, in winter and in summer. It is a really neat place for any age, any athleticism. There are overlooks that are not far from the parking lot where you can observe the main falls, shown in a lot of pictures here. These are extremely accessible and good places for photos. They have multiple trails, although I wish they went a bit further and that the trail along the cliffs was better marked. I have done the trail 3 times and still have gotten off-course every time. The trail along the cliffs is not the one to take for someone older, disabled, etc. as there are lots of rocks (which is fun) but easy to trip over. There is another trail that looks like a horse path instead.

If you are looking for more of an adventure, it's easy to do some light free-climbing or bouldering in the park, and often you'll see someone doing so. There are many places to get privacy to watch the water and look across the way at Maryland if you look for them. The park isn't incredibly big, I wish the trails went further, but it's nice that it is so accessible from DC.

There is a lot of parking, but I have found getting there between 7-8a to be the best, as you aren't with crowds of people and you can find a spot. When I leave around 10am on the weekend there is usually a line. On a free admission park day I went to, when I left at 10am there were over 150 cars waiting to get in, so those days be sure to get there by 8am. Also of course if you can go on a weekday do that. A lot of people always show up on weekends and it really takes away from it with all the loud talking, etc. on the trails.

Note that they do take the America the Beautiful parks pass, so you can get in free with that.

Thank cc_travelrev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"great falls"
in 124 reviews
"potomac river"
in 119 reviews
"visitor center"
in 68 reviews
"hiking trails"
in 44 reviews
"billy goat trail"
in 34 reviews
"natural beauty"
in 20 reviews
"rock climbing"
in 24 reviews
"both sides"
in 16 reviews
"picnic area"
in 22 reviews
"beautiful scenery"
in 14 reviews
"picnic lunch"
in 11 reviews
"ridge trail"
in 11 reviews
"snack bar"
in 18 reviews
"entrance fee"
in 22 reviews
"annual pass"
in 11 reviews
"washington dc"
in 29 reviews
"per vehicle"
in 15 reviews
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5 - 9 of 1,150 reviews

Reviewed 3 weeks ago

The Park is NOT a best kept secret, it has become a local destination. Close in to DC and yet a real natural experience. The Falls are truly majestic to view at varying times of the year...always changing. Quiet surroundings, yet filled with interesting people.

Thank Dan K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Do not expect to have a very strenuous walk here (unless you run) and you will probably encounter many other people with dogs, children, kayaks and even some climbers (the routes look short). Definitely worthwhile.

Thank Rico M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2018

I‘m embarrassed to say, I’ve been living in the region for decades, and although I’ve seen the gorge from the Billy Goat Trail on the Maryland side many times, I had never made it to the overlooks on the Virginia side until recently. It really is beautiful to see and experience the falls from the VA side overlooks! We had entered Great Falls National Park by hiking south along the river from Riverbend Regional Park. Also, the Virginia bluebells will be blooming soon - another sight not to miss! Historically, Virginia Bluebells are at their peak bloom the second week of April, but they are blooming sooner in recent years. In addition to Great Falls and Riverbend, other good parks to see the Virginia Bluebells are Bull Run Regional Park, Stone Bridge at Manassas Battlefield, Cub Run Valley Stream Park, and Merrimac Farm. Better than the DC cherry blossoms, IMHO.

5  Thank manateesneedsprings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 March 2018

The park has several trails from very easy to a bit more difficult. Great views on the Potomac River and the Great Falls. The path along the canal is easy to walk with beautiful scenery. Sometimes you can see deer and other wildlife. Several trails are available off the main trail. Plenty of parking.

1  Thank MLovei
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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