Great Falls National Park: An Amazing Hike Along the Difficult Run Rapids, Potomac River, and Mather Gorge -- Featuring Fantastic Views of Great Falls! An Easy-Side-of-Moderate 5 Miles
If you have never been to the Virginia side, or either side of Great Falls for that matter, this hike is a MUST have experience. If you have been there, then come back for another visit. The hike is not too much effort in turn for fantastic views! Do NOT forget your cameras for this one people!
Join us on this hike and enjoy great views of Difficult Run Rapids, the Potomac River, and Great Falls. Forget how close you are to civilization while traversing this stream valley trail that is reminiscent of Virginia's mountains. With fifty percent of the Difficult Run following the Potomac River at one of its most scenic spots, it’s easy to see why so many people make Great Falls Park one of their favorites.
Our hike plan takes us along Difficult Run stream to where it flows into the Potomac and along Mather Gorge, where the trail is rocky in parts and has a couple of hills to enjoy the breathtaking views of the falls and the gorge.
At the end of our hike, we are rewarded with the majestic and powerful falls. The falls consist of cascading rapids and several 20-foot waterfalls, with a total 76-foot drop in elevation over a distance of less than a mile. The Potomac River narrows from nearly 1000 feet, just above the falls, to between 60 and 100 feet wide as it rushes through Mather Gorge, a short distance below the falls. The Great Falls of the Potomac display the steepest and most spectacular fall line rapids of any eastern river.
Nearby City: McLean, VA
Length: About 5 Miles
Trail Surface: Dirt footpaths, riverside trails, hardwood forests, and a minor rock scramble.
Elev. Gain: 400 feet
Skill Level: Easy-Side-of-Moderate
$10.00 Per Vehicle Pass: Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers. This pass is not valid for entrance into the C&O Canal National Historic Park.
$5.00 Individual Permit: Admits one individual when entering by foot, bicycle, or equestrian. Individuals 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge. This pass is not valid for entrance into the C&O Canal National Historic Park.
Click Here for suggestions regarding what to wear and what not to wear for hiking the trails.
We hike rain or shine. Click Here to view the forecast for the area where we will be hiking.
The goal for this hike is to maintain an average moving pace of ~ 2.5 mph. This speed is frequently used in popular hiking publications to represent the pace of an average hiker.
Our RSVP and Group Etiquette
Click Here to review our RSVP policies and group etiquette.
Carpool Suggestions and Information
Note that you are responsible for knowing how to get from carpool locations to the venue. Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group is not responsible for transportation to and from events or carpools. Suggested carpool times and places are provided as a courtesy because many members are either new to the area or unfamiliar with a particular hike or venues location. Please use the 'Comments' section below, or reach out via e-mail to make arrangements for carpooling needs and offerings.
Baltimore Area Carpool Suggestion - Savage Station
To carpool or caravan from the Baltimore area, people can arrange to meet at Savage Station. Click Here for directions and additional information regarding carpooling from the suggested Savage Station location.
If you can drive or want to carpool from any particular place, please post your offer to help those in need of a ride, and those looking for a ride, in the comment section below. Click Here for a list of suggested carpool locations, each complete with a physical address, GPS coordinates, driving directions and additional carpool information.
For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment — by just offering a ride!
Directions to the Trailhead
Click Here for Directions to Where We Meet for this Hike
Meet & Greet and Sign-In — 9:45-9:55 a.m.
The Hike is at 10:00 a.m.
Carpool Time from Savage Station — 9:00 a.m.
Please remember we are a volunteer supported non-profit charitable organization that values fellowship and camaraderie while practicing good hike etiquette and Leave No Trace principles. Our hikes are led by generous, dedicated, and qualified MAHG members who volunteer as leaders for Mid-Atlantic Hiking Groups volunteer leadership team. Hikes also have a volunteer “sweeper” to help ensure that no hiker is left behind. MAHG volunteers and members are very supportive, encouraging, with a focus on safety while enjoying the excellent camaraderie and benefiting from the many health benefits of hiking and unplugging from the stress of day-to-day life. Sharing what we know and learning from each other is an important part of MAHGs core values, as is our dedication to the conservation of our natural resources and our commitment to the organization's mission. Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group is a volunteer supported tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, and donations ARE tax deductible. Tax ID: [masked].
A Well-Mannered, Leashed Fido is Welcome on this Hike!
Let’s have fun out on the trails and see you there
• Donations to Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group are Tax Deductible: Tax ID[masked]. Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charitable organization.
• Click Here to Learn more about Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group’s Mission.
• 100% of Every Dollar Goes Directly to the Expenses of Meeting our Mission.
I would like to go on hikes with other people.
I like backpacking, hiking, climbing and making new tramping friends.
I would love to get back into hiking.
an outdoor enthusiast and an avid hiker
After going on 2-3 hikes a week for the last year, I'm undeniably addicted.
Hi! I look forward to hiking with the group.
Movement + the good outdoors + friends old & new... PRICELESS!
I am a proud member of the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group leadership team.
I'm just a hiking fool, who loves the journey and enjoys sharing that journey with others.
Refunds offered if:
Additional notes: Refund if you update your RSVP BEFORE 48 hours of this event. Visit midatlantichikinggroup.org for MAHG mission or click 'Pages' tab above. MAHG is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization & donations (not fees) ARE Tax Deductible-Tax ID: 47-5141831
Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.