Our next hike is one we’ve repeated every summer since we first moved to the area. It’s located in Virginia about 35 minutes outside of the District and boasts multiple well-marked trails along the Potomac River.
The drive to Great Falls Park is beautiful so allow for the time to enjoy the rolling hills of Virginia – a real treat in the Fall when the leaves are changing color!
Dogs, humans and horses are permitted in the park so it’s a great place to bring the entire crew. For this reason, we had a special visitor tag along for the hike. One of my son’s absolute favorites – our dog!
Since my husband isn’t one to pass up a fun outing with the family, he braved the early morning and piled into the now packed car as well. (Not to mention that it was Father’s Day weekend and he had a rare Saturday off from the office.)
The park opens at 7AM and costs $5 per car to enter. You’ll want to get to the park as early as your family will allow because it’s a popular destination and the line of cars to get in can get very backed up. We arrived at 10AM and had no wait, however, by the time we left around 12:30, the line of cars to get in was at least two miles long and at a standstill.
The park is also now one of the National Parks trash-free locations. This means, what you bring in, you must bring out. There aren’t trashcans at the park, not even in the bathroom. It cuts down on maintenance costs and helps people become aware of the trash they are producing. Great in theory, not so great for poopy diapers. If you have the misfortune of a number two from your number one, try tucking it into one of your dog’s poop bags or bring along a ziplock bag to store it in while you finish your hike.
Speaking of bathrooms, this park has them. After you park, you’ll walk up to a large structure with bathrooms, a park bookstore and small concession stand. From there, you’ll see an open green area covered with the shade of many large trees where you picnic, grill and throw the Frisbee.
When hiking Great Falls, you’ll want the body carrier and some good hiking shoes. The trails have some ups and downs and are covered with roots, rocks and dirt. This is great nature for little walkers to explore as well but the cliffs are high and safety should be taken very seriously. Keep a hand on your tiny tots whenever their feet are on the ground and know the waters are fierce so even though at times you can dip your toe in, you must not.
The hike was hot and having water on hand for all was a must. Don’t let heat keep you away though. Chirping birds surrounded our every step, the roaring rapids of the water filled our senses like surround sound at a high-end movie theater and rock climbers delighted our curiosity as we turned each new bend in the trail. To say it was worth it, would be an understatement.
So strap up the babe, hook the dog to a leash and get yourself out there!