Even though Great Falls is located only 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C., this community has a distinctly upscale country feel. Homes sit on large lots and the narrow roads are lined with trees that explode in colorful reds, oranges, and yellows during the autumn months. Great Falls is also the perfect neighborhood for those who enjoy communing with nature. Are you someone who enjoys getting out of doors? Then perhaps Great Falls is the right community for your next home.
Great Falls Park
One of the advantages of living in Great Falls is having this amazing 800-acre park right in your own backyard. The centerpiece of the park is, of course, its beautiful, cascading waterfall. Great Falls Park also boasts more than 15 miles of hiking trails — five of which are multi-use, meaning that they are shared with horse riders and bikers. Trail maps are available at the entrance station and at the visitor’s center. If you’d prefer to hike with others, you might want to consider joining a Meetup hiking group. There are several in the D.C. metro area that take groups to Great Falls on a pretty regular basis.
This park is also a very popular spot for rock climbers. Routes can be found just downstream from the park’s second waterfall overlook. Climbing is top-rope only, and you are not allowed to drill anchors into the rocks. These climbing routes range in length from 25 to 75 feet, with difficulty ratings between 5.0 and 5.14.
This 400-acre park is Great Falls Park’s little sibling. It boasts miles of wooded trails, including ones that connect it to Great Falls Park. Riverbend Park is especially pretty in the spring when the Virginia bluebells are blooming or in the fall when the leaves are changing color. Because it is not as well known as Great Falls Park, many locals will head to Riverbend on weekends and holidays rather than fight the crowds at the bigger park.
Many of the homes in Great Falls have pastures and barns, so it is an excellent place to live if you’re an equestrian. Horseback riding trails wind through the community, and some connect to the trails that can be found in Great Falls Park. This community is even home to a therapeutic riding program, Lift Me Up. This program gives adults and children with disabilities the opportunity to ride a horse. The unique experience has been known to help those with special needs to acquire new physical, social and communication skills.
While it may seem crazy to attempt to kayak the Potomac River near the turbulent waterfall, kamikaze kayakers can often be seen challenging the swirling whitewater rapids, which range in difficulty from Class II (moderately easy) to Class VI (extreme). Access to the river above the falls is closed to boating, and only very experienced kayakers should attempt to challenge the waters near the falls.
Riverbend Park offers calmer waters and a boat launch, where you can launch canoes, kayaks or small Jon boats. But it is very important that you stay aware while boating in this area as there is a very dangerous dam just one mile down river from the boat ramp.