Let’s go see if the Virginia bluebells are up at Riverbend Park! (Even if they aren't we'll enjoy a nice hike along the Potomac Heritage Trail and a visit to the overlooks at Great Falls...)
For the first leg of our hike, we’ll start from the open area south of the Visitor Center (GPS =[masked],[masked]) and walk north along the Potomac Heritage Trail to the bridge over Mary Hollow Run near Witch Hazel Bluff and return to our starting point at the Visitor Center. It’s about 0.8 miles each way and should take only about 30 minutes.
After any short breaks needed, we’ll depart from the Visitor Center on the second leg of our hike, south along the Potomac Heritage Trail to the Great Falls Overlooks and return after about a 15 minute break at Great Falls. Since this leg is out-and-back and the last leg of the hike, those who wish to head back immediately or linger longer may do so as desired. It’s about 1.9 miles each way, and should take about an hour and a half.
All told, the walk is 5.4 miles of smiles and should take about 2 hours, with maybe a little extra time for breaks and picture-taking. The path is fairly level, dirt surfaces except for a brief rocky section, and easy to moderate difficulty.
A Google map of the hike is here: http://tinyurl.com/krajw6z
How to get there:
• From the Beltway: take exit 44 Georgetown Pike (Route 193) west 4.5 miles to a right on River Bend Road for 2.2 miles to a right on Jeffery Road. Proceed one mile to the Visitor Center entrance on your right.
• From Tysons Corner: take Route 7 west to a right on International Drive 2.8 miles to a left on Old Dominion Drive to a left on Georgetown Pike (Route 193). Take a right on River Bend Road and continue 2.2 miles to a right on Jeffery Road. Proceed one mile to the Visitor Center entrance on your right.
• From Reston: take Baron Cameron Road east the road becomes Springvale Road to a right on Georgetown Pike to a left on River Bend Road 2.2 miles to a right on Jeffery Road. Proceed one mile to the Visitor Center entrance on your right.
• From Sterling: take Route 7 east to a left on Georgetown Pike (Route 193) approximately 5 miles to a left on River Bend Road 2.2 miles to a right on Jeffery Road. Proceed one mile to the Visitor Center entrance on your right.
Where to meet: We'll meet in the open area just south of the Visitor Center.
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, and your furry friend if desired (leashes, please). The forecast is partly sunny, a high of 69 degrees and winds gusting to 23 mph, so consider the layered look. Don't forget your camera for pics of the falls!
Administrative stuff: There are public restrooms and drinking fountains at the Riverbend Visitor Center, and also at the Visitor Center at Great Falls. (The Riverbend Visitor Center doesn't open until noon, but the restrooms are unlocked.) As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 please.
• Riverbend Park: http://tinyurl.com/mqkc6yd
• Park trail map (pdf): http://tinyurl.com/lc3yd5d
• GPS Trail Source: http://tinyurl.com/n5tapv9
• Park fee schedule (pdf): http://tinyurl.com/ljeacrt
H/T to Lowell for the great suggestion!