Scott's Run Nature Preserve Trail is a 2.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near McLean, Virginia that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
2.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
282 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

cross country skiing

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

This hike features river views, a waterfall, wildflowers, and ruins. Visitors have flocked to Scott's Run for years to witness the spring wildflowers that grow there. Sources say that trail-ing arbutus, Virginia bluebells and trillium blooming on the steep hillsides create a small oasis of rare and fragile plants. Remarkable and rare species grow along the precipitous cliffs, in steep valleys and throughout the mature hardwood forest of very large oak and beech trees, ancient hemlock and wild cherry trees that stand as tall as the oaks. Scotts Run Nature Preserve consists of a rather hilly, wildflower-riddled tract of riverside woodlands scarcely 4 crow-miles northwest of Washington. For songbirds and other wildlife, it's a true sanctuary.

23 days ago

Very muddy but a good trail for kids.

hiking
27 days ago

I agree with all the reviews here. I both love this place and am disgusted by the way folks (particularly in the summer months) treat what has been set aside as a “nature preserve.” If you get the chance to enjoy the beauty and solitude of this natural escape by the Potomac, and feel strongly about protecting it, please contact Riverbend Nature Center about participating in Scotts Run clean ups or collect trash when you can and report any illegal activity. And if you get a chance to hike to the river overlooks watch out for my father’s memorial bench along the trail (the one with a river view when the leaves fall), have a seat and enjoy the woods!

hiking
1 month ago

Nice little loop with a section that has great river views. Went during the fall and most of the trail is wooded, so I really enjoyed the hike. Mostly flat, but some rocky hill sections near the river. Parking is limited during peak times.

4 months ago

if the loop is done counter-clockwise, your journey is going to be more quiet. Just know as you approach the water at Stubblefield Falls the rock scramble is very steep. The Scotts Run Falls were smelly and loaded with trash. There were people drinking beer and some of them looked underage. Lots and lots of people swimming in spite of warning signs not to swim. one girl was naked! Pretty day as was quiet until I got to Scotts Run Falls. Trails were blazed according to the color coded map. An ok afternoon, could be better could be worse.

hiking
4 months ago

I loved the little creeks with carefully placed stones to hop across. Also, the paths are spacious. Although I was disappointed by the situation I found at the waterfall. “No swimming, wading, or bathing” is clearly marked in at least two locations; one at the base of the waterfall and another on the trail as you approach the waterfall. They are big and describe the consequences in smaller detail including possible arrest and a $250 fine! The scene was beautiful despite the insistence of a white trash summer (clothes and trash thrown everywhere along with half-naked teens and small children romping through it). I was mildly disgusted as I ventured out for a pleasant hike with hopes of seeing the waterfall here in all of its glory. What I found was a gorgeous backdrop to a bunch of unruly visitors unwilling to keep their clothes on. These are not beaches and should not be treated the same way. Come for the view not the more obvious guilty pleasure of a few that seem to come and go without regard to anyone else.

hiking
4 months ago

I enjoyed this trail, and definitely improved my stamina coming up the big incline from the waterfall. The heartbreaking part of this trail is all of the trash that people have left behind. Next time I go, I'll take a trash bag with me to clean up a bit.

5 months ago

Some side trails are harder then others so beware ! But soo beautiful

5 months ago

Unfortunately the people that frequent this location have trashed the place. This trail has so much potential to be amazing and beautiful, but the smell of sewage, trash littering the creek, and young teenagers smoking, drinking, and taking up space at the waterfall is an unfortunate eye sore for those that want to enjoy nature. Luckily, someone called the authorities yesterday, and hopefully that’ll instigate some change. I will definitely go back next time, not for the joy of being there, but to clean up the mess left behind by ungrateful individuals.

hiking
5 months ago

Great short hike. On a beautiful summer Sunday morning, it was easy to park at the trailhead at 8:00am. When I returned at 9:30, there was a queue for parking. The hike is mostly flat with a little elevation closer to the river. As others pointed out, it is a shame there is trash left behind from others at the falls. I preferred stubblefield falls overlook to sit down and enjoy food and reading. The ability to move in and out of different trails is a nice option. Definitely recommend for a short and easy hike.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy hikes and lots of dogs. This is a busy place so get there early. Some river access for the dogs but be careful of the currents. Ticks are seen in the summer so remember to check you and your pets. I use this location for quick hike when I don’t want to drive far.

5 months ago

Nice quick hike, but difficult to find parking and he waterfall area had a lot of trash.

hiking
6 months ago

Lots of fun with my friend Nicole!

Excellent park to walk around, but there are plenty of bottles and plastics dirtying the place.

hiking
6 months ago

This is one of my favorite trails because of all the little mini side trails throughout the loop. Dog friendly, family friendly, and once you get near the water it provides some fantastic views. Every time i go I just sort of pick and choose the trails as I pass them and it makes it seem like you've gone on a new hike each time. The only thing bad I can say about this hike is the area by the waterfall is very dirty and constantly has trash and broken glass. Also a bit smelly.

7 months ago

It’s a nice trail but dear lord does it smell like sewage.

hiking
7 months ago

Quick morning hike with great views. Easy for everyone. One or two spots are tricky due to down trees, and eroded trail.

9 months ago

Offers relative serenity and beauty a stones throw from DC. It doesn’t quite live up to nearby Great Falls, but is a worthy alternative.

hiking
9 months ago

sweet place to hike..

hiking
10 months ago

Nice easy trail. But quite busy.

11 months ago

Love the views & walking along the frozen Potomac!

hiking
Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lots of unmarked trail intersections. Very easy hike.

walking
Saturday, December 02, 2017

Great place for dogs!

hiking
Saturday, November 25, 2017

took our dogs. it was beautiful! kinda stinky but a fun trail.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Beautiful area with very well marked trails- there are even maps at each trail intersection. Great spot for a picnic lunch by the falls.

hiking
Sunday, October 15, 2017

I only did a short hike, but it was good. The Scott Run Falls was nice and scenic. Came across one guy who had dog off leash, but it was okay.

hiking
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

People had dogs off leash, it smelled of dog poop and sewage. It gets better when you climb further up into the wooded areas. One trail takes you to a parking lot though. Not exciting.

hiking
Sunday, October 08, 2017

hiking
Saturday, September 23, 2017

While many would consider this an easy trail, it is not for beginners. There are a lot of steep hills, lose rocks, and thin slippery paths. In the end I did thoroughly enjoy the views but felt a little mislead by the "easy" label.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nice and close to DC! Right off of 495. We got there around 1030am and the first parking lot was full. It's super tiny. If you drive down a little ways on the right you'll reach the 2nd parking lot which had more spaces. Others reported lots of trash on the pathway but it wasn't too bad. When we first started the hike it smelled like sewer water but didn't last too long. We did the 2.5mile loop. It starts off pretty flat, turns rocky and then hilly. Lots of lose rocks. I know you can bring dogs but I'm not sure I'd bring mine since it was a good amount of time walking on rocks. Waterfall was pretty and quaint. We enjoyed climbing on the rocks in the river to get a better view. Once you past the waterfall, we were pretty much by ourselves on the trail. I'd definitely go back even though the way back up required a few breaks!!

hiking
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Great Hike pay attention to signs is easy to end up on a different trail than you intended.

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