Today I’m featuring a picture taken by Julie in the Great Falls Park in the US.
Julie McCool is a writer, traveller, and mobile strategist with a passion for the Northern Virginia and Washington DC region. She is the co-founder and driver of Fun in Fairfax Va and a contributing writer and photographer for McCool Travel.
Photo Story: The Great Falls Park
The Great Falls of the Potomac, where George Washington once surveyed, draws visitors to its overlooks and trails throughout the year. The water level rises and falls, the trees leaf and bare, the tourists gather and dissipate, and the rocks remain to mark the changes.
In early winter, afternoon fog and a faint pink sunset combine to soften the rocks, while frigid temperatures and very low river levels keep kayakers away.
The Potomac River drops 76 feet in less than a mile here, while the banks narrow from 1000 feet wide to only 60 to 100 feet as the river passes through narrow Mather Gorge. The combination of dropping and narrowing as the water cascades over jagged rocks creates this dramatic series of waterfalls and rapids.
In spring, snowmelt and heavy rains combine to smother the rocks in the water, sometimes covering them and the nearby overlooks completely. A signpost marks floods since 1936, showing water level marks that seem impossibly high.
Summer heat lowers the water again, and the Potomac becomes a playground for expert kayakers shooting through the falls. Downstream, calmer waters support rafts and paddleboards, while hikers and rock climbers dot the cliffs on each side.
Fall foliage is subtle along the banks of Great Falls, which are dominated by yellowing Sycamore and Oak. Tourist crowds remain high, though, and hikers scramble along the popular trails.
On the Virginia side, the River Trail offers the best views, while on the Maryland side, the Billy Goat Trail challenges casual hikers with tricky rock scrambles.
This view, of the rocks and currents of Great Falls, draws us back over and over. There is something magical about a geology that is so permanent and a view that is so changeable.
Visitors can explore Great Falls from two national parks, both a short drive from Washington DC. In Virginia, Great Falls Park is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and in Maryland, Great Falls Tavern is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Both parks offer wonderful hiking, fascinating history, and beautiful Great Falls views.