Difficult Run Trail

MODERATE 61 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
20 days ago

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hiking
1 month ago

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2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

trail running
2 months ago

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hiking
5 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

6 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

I actually found this hike on another app but because it didn't have enough details and I couldn't record my hike, I switched over to the All Trails app. To start, you're actually looking for the Colvin Mill parking when you arrive. Not exactly sure if you're allowed to park there but every review online directs you there. Just note that they close their gate at sunset so plan accordingly. After you park, you walk down the street back towards Leesburg Pike and off to your left you'll see a gravel path that, at the time of writing this review, was a construction zone. However you can enter the area and once you see the construction buildng stay to the right. The start of the trail is right behind the bungalows. The hike is actually multiple trails, with the first being Difficult Run Trail. This part is mostly flat with you winding through people's backyard but once you get closer to the river, the trail picks up in incline and it becomes the Ridge Trail. Once you hit the river, the trail then becomes the River Trail, which is where you'll begin to see some small boulders. However this is also where you'll get the best view. The hike only takes in part of the River Trail before it reaches a park/bathroom area. At that point you'll begin you're turnaround towards the Swamp Trail which will lead you back to the Ridge Trail which will then lead you back to the Difficult Run Trail for you to head back to your starting point. The hike although has some elevation is easily achievable even for a beginner. However to not underestimate the length of the trail. With some added detour for pictures your hike can end up close to 12mile roundtrip. I encourage hikers to bring Camelback's (or other types of water bag). When you run out of water you can refill them at the restroom stop. Towels would be helpful if you sweat a lot and if it's hot out, some sunscreen would be nice as well. The paths for the most part are shaded but there are quite a few areas that are exposed to sun. Lastly, if you feel that hike is too long, there are many trails that you can cut through to get there/get back quicker, just make sure you stay on the trail (there are deers and other animals out there). So there you go. Grab a buddy, go out there and take the scenic in. Stay hydrated and have fun!

backpacking
9 months ago

trail running
9 months ago

mountain biking
10 months ago

The beginning of the trail starts behind a construction site, we picked up this trail after riding from Lake Fairfax. the start was a nice ride, not too difficult but once we got into the Great Falls park there was so many rocky areas we carried the bikes most of the way. The river trail was impossible to ride but we cut inland and it was a nice ride. The view of the falls was nice. Overall we did a 13.5 mile ride and would do it again.

hiking
10 months ago

The directions are wrong they take you to somebodys house above the trail, just follow the map on the app not the directions. First leg of the trail was not heavily trafficked which was nice. it was a pretty walk but muddy even though it hadn't rained in a few days there were still large puddles to walk around.

hiking
10 months ago

A little muddy, it had just rained but almost completely deserted. The trail head was behind the construction site.