Since our international adventures have been postponed due to Covid-19, we are finding adventure a little closer to home. Each week of quarantine I have been seeking out some quiet time in nature. This week I drove to Great Falls, VA to visit an unmarked, tucked away nature preserve.

It was almost a mile into my hike before I found this sign.

I was glad that I had read a bit about where to park and how to find the trailhead. Google Maps directs you through a lovely neighborhood to the “End State Maintenance” sign. But what then? I parked in the neighborhood and started down the bumpy road hoping my research was correct. It turns out there is a small parking lot closer to the trail if you continue past the “End State Maintenance Sign”. There are spots for about ten cars, so it’s definitely worth checking.

Just after the small parking lot, I found my first sign welcoming hikers to the preserve.

The hike was about three miles round trip, mostly on a narrow dirt path with close in forest growth. While it cuts through a Baptist Children’s Camp in one section, the camp is closed. In fact, I only passed two other people on the entire path, despite it being a summery Sunday afternoon. I did encounter several timid white-tailed deer, beautiful butterflies and mayflies flitting near the water, and so many shades of green. This park is known for its birding and wildflowers, but I most appreciated the reprieve it gave.

The trail was well marked with blue blazes and signs, with an unkempt connector trail to the Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail. While mostly flat, there were enough hills to keep the hike interesting and a good workout. If you still have energy after your hike, acclaimed Great Falls Park and French restaurant L’Auberge Chez Francois are minutes away. Happy hiking!

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