Updated August 22, 2022. Just because the DMV is hundreds of miles from Niagara doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the sight of fast-moving water cascading over rocks. Here are four spots where chasing waterfalls is definitely encouraged. Don’t forget your camera — but remember to take those selfies from a safe distance.
Great Falls National Park
This National Park in NoVA houses the granddaddy of the region’s waterfalls, and there are several ways to see these stunning natural works of art. If you want an easy spot that’s perfect for smaller kids and anyone with limited mobility, head to Overlook 1, an easy ten-minute walk from the visitor’s center, where you can still see the 76-foot cascade. Overlooks 2 and 3 are a bit more of a challenge, as you may need to climb some rocks for the best view, but they also allow you to wave to the visitors on Olmsted Island on the Maryland side. More ambitious hikers can tackle the River Trail, a 1.5-mile hike over rocky terrain that gives you different vantage points of the falls (and a great workout). 9200 Old Dominion Dr., Great Falls
Quantico Creek at Prince William Forest Park
Two hiking trails at this National Park in Triangle lead to waterfalls. Follow the yellow blazes on the Quantico Cascades Trail for a short, easy hike that travels through the open forest, where you can spot downed logs which are home to many of the park’s wildlife; after fifteen minutes and a short descent, you will come upon Quantico Creek meandering over and through large rocks. At just about ten miles, the South Valley Trail is the longest trail in the park. Follow the trail along the creek and you will see cascades of various sizes; Past Turkey Run Ridge Trail, the path becomes steeper, affording more opportunities to see cascades. 18170 Park Entrance Rd., Triangle
River Mill Park
This 1.1-acre park is located on the riverfront in Historic Occoquan. Take the foot bridge, and you’ll be rewarded with views of the river, the cute town, and a small waterfall. You can also rent kayaks and take to the water to see the fall up close. 458 Mill St., Occoquan
Scott’s Run Nature Preserve
Part of the Potomac Gorge, one of the rarest biological ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic, this park in McLean has dramatic rocky cliffs and narrow valleys that were formed over thousands of years by erosion from the Potomac River. Scott’s Run, the main creek that runs through the park, starts at one of the highest elevations in Fairfax County; it runs through commercial development before entering deep forests and eventually over a 15-foot waterfall that empties into the Potomac River. 7400 VA-193, McLean
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