Steps Outside the City


Remember how green and lush I told you Richmond, Virginia was when I was out there for the Sabra Hummus Factory tour a few weeks ago? Well drive north about 2 hours, then add a few weeks worth of rain, and you’ve got a breathtakingly beautiful Washington DC!


Seriously, I am in total awe of how heavily wooded and green it is in this part of the country at this time of year – even in the city! It practically begs you to take fun day trips to hike and explore the dozens of surrounding state parks, trails, and recreation areas any chance get.


Which is exactly what we did following a sight-seeing-filled day in downtown DC – the whole family piled into the car and headed out for some light hiking and quality time with nature – destination: Great Falls Park in Great Falls, VA!


Great Falls Park is set right on the Potomac river, just outside of DC, and culminates in a stunning, massive waterfall. It’s reached by driving down a long, heavily-wooded road that backs up QUICK when the weather’s nice.


The long line of cars that had already formed by the time we got there went fairly quickly, then we parked, piled out and headed into the park!


The Patowmack (which is how the Native Americans originally spelled the “Potomac”) Canal Trail took us on a nice, semi-paved path, parallel to the rushing Potomac River. Nothing super strenuous – or at least the portion we took – which was just right for the leisurely afternoon stroll we were looking for.


It was a beautiful, spring afternoon – sunny and 80 – and the scenery on the trail was as picturesque as can be.


My in-laws were actually at the park just a few weeks ago, before the majority of the spring rains fell, and they said this portion of the river/trail had been just a tiny trickle when they were here.


The day we went though, the water was whooshing by at Lord only knows how many miles an hour. It would have taken even a seasoned swimmer in a second (aka we stayed very close to the trail!) 8O


As we walked further down, we started to hear an extremely loud noise. Crashing, rushing and frothing water could only mean one thing – the falls were close!


And indeed they were! WOWSERS, this thing was miiiiighty!


Here’s what it looks like when the river’s not so swollen. It’s actually very popular with kayakers, as the sign points out. It’s even been used for practice by members of the US Olympic Whitewater Slalem team!


We were thoroughly impressed. :)


Ew, and grossed out too! Guess who we found hiding out right below the sign when we all straightened up from reading it, hmmm???




Anyways, the water tumbles down the falls and only gets faster as it funnels through a narrow channel about 100 yards away.


I think it’s only 60 feet across at it’s narrowest point.


You can only imagine how fast ALL that water is moving as it’s forced through such a tiny opening so quickly!


Believe it or not, the kayakers paddle UP the falls, to go right back down it! Impossible, I say! ;)


Beautiful day, beautiful scenery, beautiful DC. (Well, technically Virginia…) :)


This day of our trip just goes to show you how versatile this city really is. Cocktails overlooking the White House one day, hiking in a state park the next. Love that! :D

Other DC recaps:

IGE in Washington DC

Sips in the City

Sweets in the City

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  1. Shannon 05.24.2011

    What a great hike! I love D.C.!

  2. That is beautiful!!

  3. Tracy 05.24.2011

    I grew up in Northern VA (McLean/Great Falls) and it is a beautiful area. The park is huge, and is great for walks, hiking, bike riding and running in certain areas. It connects to the trail that runs through Georgetown too. Glad you are having such a blast in my town!

  4. Encore 05.24.2011

    Sweet old school ‘Wolves t-shirt! I gotta get me one of those! Oh and the other sites were pretty cool too! :)

  5. Stephanie 05.24.2011

    So beautiful! Looks like a fabulous hike!

    • Bill 05.27.2011

      Or trail run :)

  6. Machelle 05.24.2011

    Ben’s scruffy beard is gone! darn! i was kinda liking it!

  7. Larissa h 05.24.2011

    awesome choice it is gorg there! i biked up to there from georgetown last time i was in DC up the canal, what a fun fun day- it always suprises me how close yet far it seems from the city. People in DC are so active!

  8. dmc 05.24.2011

    IG – you are outdoing yourself on these DC posts!!! Absolutely georgeous and so well written/described.

    Don’t go home, stay another week and show us more! Seriously!


  9. dani 05.24.2011

    I grew up in the ‘burbs of DC, I love Great Falls! Your recap posts are awesome, I love seeing other bloggers explore and enjoy DC and places I’ve been!

  10. Mac 05.24.2011

    Sounds like a pretty nice little adventure! Minus the lizard of course, no one ever likes to see those unless there in an enclosed glass tank at a pet store, right?

  11. erica 05.24.2011

    gorgeous! i can’t imagine kayaking up that!

  12. Faith 05.24.2011

    I’ve been there so many times. If you ever visit again, you should hike the Billy Goat trail. I used to drive there and hike it during college for a change of enviroment. Taking your bikes and riding the C and O Canel is also a great day trip. I love Great Falls. Beautiful place.

  13. Kacy 05.24.2011

    Awesome, I am definitely going to have to check that out!

  14. How beautiful!!! I miss hiking/the woods, I can’t wait to go back to new hampshire this summer!

  15. Ah, I love the outdoors on a beautiful day. Wish the weather would shape up for good around these parts! PS – I’m mostly commenting to say how adorable that blue cardi is with those white shorts. Love spring/summer wear!

  16. Valerie 05.24.2011

    ben looks so happy in that last picture. its always good to see the rent. it warms the heart :)

  17. we’re headed to DC in the fall so this has been fun to read :)

    love your outfit in this post too!!

  18. Looks like so much fun! :) Makes me want to move there!

  19. SheFit 05.24.2011

    WOW! This is beautiful. I would dye to have a view like that.

  20. jad18 05.24.2011

    Great pictures and I love your cardigan. Would you mind sharing where you found it?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.24.2011

      I got it at Gap several years ago. Got one in every color, actually! ;)

  21. Allison 05.26.2011

    Reading all of your Washington D.C. recaps makes me so happy- I was raised in Northern VA- 10 minutes equally from Great Falls Park and from D.C. :) I graduated last weekend & already moved home, it’s absolutely beautiful!

  22. Maggie 05.30.2011

    Just a few minutes from my house, and I haven’t been in years. Shame on me.

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