Great Falls is the perfect place for an active family excursion. You’ll find great hiking and breathtaking scenery, and easy access from I-495 (Capital Beltway). Enjoy a hike on the multi-use paths, many fit for biking, horseback riding and dog walking (provided pets are kept on a 6-foot leash). Rock-climbing and kayaking are also permitted here.
Adults and kids alike will revel in the terrain, with stunning cliffs, the majestic Potomac River, raging rapids and ample wildlife visible throughout the various paths. Trails are rated easy to difficult, with trailheads conveniently located adjacent to parking lots. Many paths are stroller and wheelchair friendly.
The trails can become treacherous during and after heavy rainfall, with muddy rocks, slippery gravel and vernal ponds. For families with bolder, older children, this may add to the fun, but for those with little ones, it’s best to wait for fairer weather. Trails may close due to flooding, so it’s best to check what’s open before you go.
The Maryland side, part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, boasts the locally beloved Billy Goat trail. This, however, is a formidable 8-mile trail that can be challenging in sections, and not fit for families with small children. The C&O canal towpath, on the other hand, offers gentle terrain fit for a family walk or biking excursion. At the visitor’s center, families can sign up for one-hour mule-drawn canal boat rides.