I’ve been itching to hike. The last hike I did was Breakneck Ridge…and that was in the spring! The weekends have finally gotten cooler, so I convinced a friend to hike Great Falls Park.
We heard that the park can get very crowded, so we arrived at 9 AM on a Sunday. Since I hadn’t been there before, we parked at the Great Falls Park parking lot in Virginia. After paying our $10 park entrance fee, we easily found a spot and were ready to roll. Note that there are real bathrooms near the visitors center, which is such a luxury!
The visitors center didn’t open until 10 AM (hours are here), so we used a trail map I had bought at REI to figure out which trail to take. The trails are extremely well labeled – there are large signs throughout the park with arrows pointing you in the correct direction. Although it was early, there were also many people hiking.
We chose to hike south along the River Trail. However, our first stop was the Instagram worthy look out point. If you get there early (9 AM), you will have it mostly to yourself. Get there later and there will be a wall of people between you and the falls.
The second time around my friend and I parked in the *free* Difficult Run parking lot off of Georgetown Pike. We got there very early (8:30 AM) and had no problem parking. When we left (11:30 AM), it was completely packed.
The shortcut way to get to Great Falls is to cross over Georgetown Pike. The Wolfpack Trail begins there. You must be very careful crossing the street because the cars going pretty fast. Before we started this trail, we took the two other trails connected to the parking lot. One is the very long way to the River Trail, and the other leads away from the park. Although it's not as popular, it's a really cool trail! We were totally shocked by the bamboo and stream crossing. It was worth the detour.
Despite getting a little bit lost, we had a great hike! We were dying for a bathroom at one point, and low and behold there was a very nice one...although at that point we would have been happy with anything.
We were in the mood for pumpkins spice lattes after the hike, so we headed to Katie's Coffee House. It's connected to an Irish pub with an lovely outdoor patio. The food looked delicious but we stuck with coffee and snacks. We can't wait to come back for a post-hike burger and beer.
Kate Scott is an avid runner, who has completed three marathons and numerous half marathons. She travels frequently, most recently to Toulouse and Bordeaux in France. She currently lives in Northern Virginia and is a certified public accountant.