This figure-8 hike encompassed the narrow, rocky River Trail south from the Great Falls Visitor Center, and looped around. Lunch was... more » held at the Riverbend Park Visitor’s center with comfortable deck seating and full view of the Potomac. The Terrain is mostly flat, and some rolling hills. One small rock scramble on the River Trail, as well as two to three steep hill climbs.
HIKE DESCRIPTION: This figure-8 hike begins at the Great Falls Visitor’s Center. There are three overlooks located here, heading south. The first one has the closest view of Great Falls, but requires you to traverse rocks throughout for the vistas. The lower overlooks are decked and have easy access. See the marker for the high-water lines from previous times. Continue heading south on the River Trail. Pass Cow Hoof Rock, and turn right onto the Ridge Trail. Continue on Ridge Trail, pass the Old Carriage Road, and turn right, heading north on the trail that leads to Swamp Trail – turn left onto the Swamp Trail, then turn left again when you arrive to the Old Carriage Road. This will circle you back to the GF Visitor’s Center.
Continue on the tow path, heading north along the Potomac River and follow the blue markers. This trail will lead you into Riverbend Park. Continue to follow the river until you arrive at Riverbend Park’s visitors center. This is a perfect place for lunch. On seasonal days, the center is open, and snacks and ice cream can be purchased here. Mileage to this point is 5.35 miles.
Riverbend Nature Center
*NOTE * From this point on, the loop back to the GF Visitors center is through the woods on marked and unmarked trails. So long as you keep the Potomac River to your left – and in the winter can see it periodically. You’ll be fine. If you’re concerned about this loop, just take the trail back along the river.
Take the Center Trail (yellow markers) south towards the Upland Trail. This will eventually connect to the Matildaville Trail in GFP, and then Mine Run Trail for one final loop to the parking lot. less «