Difficult Run Trail

MODERATE 71 reviews
#4 of 9 trails in

Difficult Run Trail is a 9.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near McLean, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
9.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
738 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

hiking

mountain biking

trail running

walking

horseback riding

river

views

waterfall

rocky

Variety is the word to describe this hike. Descend to Difficult Run and follow it as it winds to the Potomac River. Enjoy the cool water in summer or view the unusual ice formations in winter. After a short, steep climb to the ridge, follow the rim of Mather Gorge towards Great Falls - a channel believed to be 180 million years old. Pass by remains of Matildaville, named by Lighthourse Harry Lee in honor of his wife, and the Potowmack Canal, planned by George Washington and operated for 26 years before being bought out by the Chesapeake and Ohio Co. and abandoned. Follow the trail as it winds along to Great Falls Park, with overlooks of the falls, and then within a few minutes the Swamp Trail where wild flowers and wildlife abound.

hiking
16 days ago

Nice trail. We didn't do the full leg out into the Difficult Run portion of the loop because it was rained out. We walked mainly the River Trail portion, which was delightful. The drawback is that the area closest to the river is very crowded and in particular by non-hikers (flip-flops, street clothes, confusion) which detracted from the beauty of the hike. We went on a Sunday afternoon so likely peak time. Some of it is craggy and uphill which made it fun and challenging in short spurts--not too much. We had to wait about ten minutes for a parking space but other than that no troubles. I'd go again.

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