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Links to Casual Hikes in the Washington DC Area

 
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SCWDC Casual-Hike Leaders Guide
Hiking Ideas: PATC Map # D:

Hikes based on Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) Map # D Ė Potomac Gorge Area, Maryland and Northern Virginia; and the Cabin John Trail in Maryland.

Leaders Note: These write-ups are provided in the preferred format so hike leaders can cut and paste from the electronic edition, and edit the hike description for their hike.

Difficulty Scale:

 

Hrs

Miles

Elevation Gain

 

Avg

Min

Max

Min

Max

Very Easy

2

 

<=4

 

<=400

Easy

4

>4

<=8

>400

<=800

Moderate

6

>8

<=12

>800

<=1200

Tough

8

>12

<=16

>1200

<=1600

Difficult

10

>16

<=20

>1600

<=2000

Extreme

12+

>20

 

>2000

 

Leaders Note: While PATC map D does not show the trails in Fairfax Countyís Riverbend Park, it is a great resource for hiking, fishing, boating, biking, and open and sheltered picnicking. Many of the Nature Center displays have been moved to the Visitors Center where you will find snacks (in season) and restrooms. If you want to include the views of Great Falls, it is preferable to start hikes here to avoid the entrance fee at Great Falls National Park.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Great Falls VA 22102, Casual Hike, Riverbend Park to Great Falls Park. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. An easy 5.5 mile, loop through rolling woods and along the Potomac River. Meet at Riverbend Park Nature Center (not the Visitor Center). We will hike from the Nature Center down to the Visitors Center and then along the Potomac to Great Falls Park and return. Driving Directions: See page 3, H/5 of ADCís map of Northern Virginia. From I-495 and exit onto Route 193, Georgetown Pike. Go West about five miles. Go past at the entrance to Great Falls National Park and take the next right hand turn onto Route 603, River Bend Road. Go about two miles and turn right onto Jeffery Rd. Go about three quarters of a mile, go past the main entrance to the park, and turn right following the signs to the Nature Center. Based on PATC Map #D.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Great Falls VA 22102, Casual Loop Hike, Riverbend Park to Great Falls Park. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. This is a very easy, 5-mile loop with minimal elevation change that is very scenic at any time of the year. Wear comfortable hiking/walking shoes and bring food and beverages of your choice or purchase lunch at snack bar in Great Falls Park. The plan is to picnic in Great Falls Park at the closest available table to Overlook #2. Driving Directions: See page 3, H/5 of ADCís map of Northern Virginia. From I-495 and exit onto Route 193, Georgetown Pike. Go West about five miles. Go past at the entrance to Great Falls National Park and take the next right hand turn onto Route 603, River Bend Road. Go about two miles and turn right onto Jeffery Rd. Go about three quarters of a mile to the park entrance on the right. Follow the signs to the Visitors Center and park in the lot on your right as you approach the river. The trailhead is at the down river end of the parking lot. Based on PATC Map #D.

Other variations: 1) start at Visitors Center (this may include a park entrance fee, 2) include the Upland trail going or coming back, 3) extend the length of the hike to 7-8 miles by going farther into Great Falls Park to include a) the Mather Gorge overlook, b) Matildaville, 4) extend the length of the hike to 10 miles making it an Adventure Hike by going to Difficult Run, 5) extend the hike to 7.5 miles by walking upriver from the Visitorís Center to the pipeline crossing of the Potomac (about a mile upriver) and back, this section is also passable for off-road biking.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Great Falls VA 22102, Casual Hike, Great Falls Park to Difficult Run. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. This is a moderate, 5-6 mile, circuit hike which follows varying terrain including spectacular sights of Great Falls, the Potomac River, and Difficult Run. We will take the River Trail, to the Ridge Trail, to Difficult Run and the intersection of Difficult Run and the Potomac River. We will return via the Ridge Trail to the Old Carriage Trail, to the Visitors Center. There are several rock scrambles and some up-hills included in this hike. Hikers should meet in the courtyard area at the Visitors Center of the park. Driving Directions: See page 3, G/9 of ADCís map of Northern Virginia. From I-495 and exit onto Route 193, Georgetown Pike. Go West about five miles and turn right at the traffic light onto Old Dominion Dr. Proceed to the park entrance to Great Falls National Park. There is a $5.00 fee for entrance into the park. Based on PATC Map #D.

Variations: 1) reverse the direction of the hike so that you are hiking upriver with the sun to your back in the morning, 2) take the Matildaville Trail, 3) continue up the Ridge Trail to the Swamp Trail, to the Old Carriage Trail and then to the Visitors Center.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Great Falls VA 22102, Casual Hike, Difficult Run to Great Falls Park. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. A moderate 5-6 mile circuit hike through woods and along Difficult Run and the Potomac River with an occasional rock scramble and up-hills. This hike starts in the Difficult Run parking lot off of Georgetown Pike. We will proceed downstream along Difficult Run to the intersection with the Potomac River. We will backtrack to the Ridge Trail, to the River Trail, to the Visitors Center in Great Falls Park. We will return via the Matildaville Trail, to the Old Carriage Trail, turn right onto RT 193, to the parking lot. Based on PATC Map #D. Driving Directions: See page 3, H/13 of ADCís map of Northern Virginia. From I-495 exit onto Rt. 193, Georgetown Pike. Go West about 4.5 miles and look for the entrance to the parking lot on your right just after crossing over Difficult Run

Leaderís Note: this is a small parking lot with no overflow parking conveniently available. Also, the Old Carriage Trail ends at Rt. 193 and you will have to walk a short distance along busy 193 to get to the parking lot. However starting here, does allow you to avoid the entrance fee at Great Falls Park. Variations: 1) the hike can be extended up to 11 miles by extending the hike to Riverbend Park.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Great Falls VA 22102, Casual Circuit Hike, Scotts Run Nature Preserve. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. A moderate 4-mile circuit hike with a 600-foot elevation gain. Hike along Scottís Run and the shores of the Potomac. A highlight is the waterfalls where Scottís Run cascades into the Potomac River. Weather permitting, the stream delta is a favorite for wading and sunbathing. Despite short length and close in location the trail can present some challenges with an elevation change of 600 feet. This circuit hike begins in from the Swinks Mill Rd parking lot and proceeds down Scotts Run to the Potomac. From the falls, we will walk down river along the Potomac nearly to the end of the park where we will turn right and head up to the small parking lot, turn right and walk back to the Swinks Mill lot. Parking & Driving: There are two parking lots, a small one just West of I-495, and a larger lot near the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Swinks Mill Rd. We will park and start from the Swinks Mill lot. Directions: See page 12, D/3 of ADCís map of Northern Virginia. From I-495, exit onto Rt. 193, Georgetown Pike westbound. Go about 1 mile and look for parking lot on the right just past the intersection with Swinks Mill Rd. Variations: The park has a good network of crossing trails so many variations are possible. 1) Going down, there is a side spur you can take that includes a steep uphill and a rugged downhill rock scramble that ends at the waterfall. If unable to cross stream, you will have to double back. This can be a scenic part of the trip, but it can be strenuous. 2) As you are walking down to the river, you will pass a wooden stairway. To shorten the hike, you may come back up from the falls to this left turn, go past the flagpole and ruins, to small parking lot and back to Swinks Mill lot. 3) From the falls, proceed down along the river to the Flagpole trail, a steep uphill trail to the right. From the flagpole trail connect with the trail to the small lot, and onto Swinks Mill lot.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Carderock MD 20817, Casual Hike, Lower Billy Goat Trail. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Not to be confused with the upper section of the trail, this is an easy, 5-6 mile circuit with minimal change in elevation. We will meet and begin our hike from the north parking lot of Carderock Recreational Area, hike north along the C&O to the north entrance to the middle section of Billy Goat Trail (just south of the crossover to Old Anglers Inn). We will hike down river along the banks of the Potomac with one or two minor rock scrambles coming back out to the C&O just south of the Marsden Camping area. We will walk south to the north entrance to the lower section of the Billy Goat Trail, walk along the Potomac and reconnect to the towpath just north of the American legion bridge. From here we will return to Carderock Park via the C&O towpath. At a casual pace, the hike should take about two-hours. We may encounter muddy and/or slippery conditions so wear appropriate footwear. Bring water and snack if desired and/or join us for lunch at a local deli in Cabin John. There are no fees for participation, to enter the park or for parking. Members and non-members are welcome to participate. Driving Directions: See page 37 of ADCís map of Montgomery County. From Virginia head north on the inner loop of I-495, cross the American Legion Bridge and exit onto the Clara Barton Parkway at the Maryland end of the bridge. Keep to your left and head north on the parkway toward Great Falls. Take the first exit and turn left at the top of the ramp. Cross the bridge and turn right into Carderock Park. At the stop sign turn right and head to the north parking lot near the restrooms. From Maryland head south on the outer loop of I-495 exit to the Clara Barton Parkway (last exit before crossing bridge) and follow directions above. Variations: 1) the hike can be extended into an Adventure Hike by including the upper portion of Billy Goat Trail, 2) the hike can be shortened by including only one of the two sections, 3) an alternative starting point is the parking lot across from Old Anglerís Inn.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Carderock MD 20817, Casual Hike, Upper Billy Goat Trail. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail . Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Carderock MD 20817, Casual Hike, Carderock to Great Falls Park via the C&O Canal. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Potomac MD 20854, Casual Hike, Old Anglerís Inn to Great Falls Park via the C&O Canal. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Potomac MD 20854, Casual Hike, Old Anglerís Inn to Great Falls Park via Gold Mine Loop. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Potomac MD 20854, Casual Hike, Old Anglerís Inn to Great Falls Park via Gold Mine Loop. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Potomac MD 20854, Casual Hike, Great Falls Park to Swains Lock via the C&O Canal. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

Saturday, February 08, 2003, 9:AM, Cabin John MD 20818, Casual Hike, Cabin John Trail. Leader: LeadersName, PhoneNumber, LeadersEmail. Based on PATC Map #D. Details to be added.

For a current listing of hike ideas, go to www.555us.com/activities/hiking/index.html