At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park only 15 miles from the Nations Capital.
This trail was very easy with little elevation gain. There's a small uphill section along the swamp trail and ridge trail, but only enough to get your heart rate up. The views along the River trail are beautiful and there are a couple of places you can scramble if you wanted to. I went during the weekday in the afternoon and there were some people on the trail. I could see how it could become very crowded during a weekend. This is a good beginner hike. The overlooks were a little crowded and I do wish you could access the falls at your own risk.
Section A- For someone with no real hiking experience, this trail was certainly challenging (in a good way) but entirely doable, despite also being a little out of shape. There were such breathtaking views throughout the whole 3.5 mile loop and the rock scrambling made it so much more enjoyable than trails that are more just like walks. It had rained several hours before my group went and the rocks were still somewhat slick from that, which especially made the 50' incline all the more difficult (but again, entirely doable). Taking it more at a leisurely pace, it took us (all in our 20s and healthy) 3 hours but it could definitely be done in 2-2.5. I would highly recommend this trail!
Very fun trail, I usually go slightly off trail to climb some of the larger rocks. But I would make sure to have plenty of water and make sure to bring other people as the trail can get pretty difficult at times (especially off trail). Either way, it's a great trail anyone of my favorites