Visit Scott's Run Nature Preserve

Small waterfalls, big scenery

Some roads have all the luck. Georgetown Pike, running from Washington, D.C. to Virginia is one such road. Not only is it a beautiful drive with huge mansions, horse farms, and woody areas it is also home to numerous hikes. In just a 2-3 mile stretch you can access Great Falls National Park, Scott's Run Nature Preserve, and Difficult Run.

Yesterday, having off for Columbus Day, I got an early start at Scott's Run Nature Preserve. I visited this trail about a year ago with my son and we had a wonderful time. There are two parking areas for Scott's Run. I use the larger one that has the trail that leads directly to Scott's Waterfall. Your GPS will most likely lead you to the other parking area that is just a quarter of a mile down the road. If you like a longer hike, I'd suggest parking there and really exploring the preserve.

My hike yesterday was focused on photography. I wanted to capture the falls in long exposure and had anticipated the run and falls to be surging with water from the rainfall we received over the weekend. Unfortunately, I found that the run was the same as the last time I visited. However, I was still able to get some wonderful pictures.  When you park in the secondary parking lot you'll see a gate. You pass that and then follow the creek all the way to Scott's Waterfall. There are numerous places to stop, rock hop, and explore. During the summer months you could conceivably walk all the way down the run to the top of the waterfall (some time I am going to do this) provided you have the right shoes. The rocks do get slippery.

I took my time and stopped at a few locations for photos. I wanted to take advantage of the sun being lower in the sky so my photos would have a more dreamy feeling to them. Also, I didn't want to wait because this hike is incredibly popular. I knew that it wouldn't be long before the trails were busy and I'd have people walking through my long exposures.

When I reached the falls I saw that the river was higher than the last time I visited so I had to scope out a good spot for a photo. Thankfully the numerous rocks provide options. I was very happy that I had the spot to myself for 15 minutes. I was able to take great shots before people started to climb around on the rocks. Two young girls showed up and it was fun watching them attempt to cross the falls. When the water is lower it isn't too hard if you're not afraid to get wet. With the water higher you have to be creative. On my last visit my son and I made our way up the side of the falls and cross at the top. I gave the girls some advice on how to get up there but they found their own path.

I wandered out to the river. I took some photos. The sky was so clear and blue that the river's surface reflected it and was blue too. It was wonderful to stand there for a moment and enjoy the sound of running water. The hike does continue along the river for a short ways before it makes it way up to an overlook. I chose not to continue but to return to the car and take a few more photos before leaving. Unfortunately, I had things to do at home so couldn't linger.

If you decide to go to Scott's Run I highly recommend going early. Visit the falls first and then wind your way through the trail back to the parking lot. You'll get better photos and be able to enjoy the falls without a bunch of yelling people (for some reason many people yell in this area. I think it is the sound of the waterfall). Also, if you are scared of dogs please take note that this is a very big "walk with dogs" hike. Many people allow their dogs off of the leash and you may get a friendly (or as was my case yesterday) a less than friendly visitor.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Jenn Gonzalez

I live the crazy life of a full time working, suburban mom of two. It can get stressful. The times I can get out into nature settle me. That moment, when you're standing among the mountains with only the sounds of nat...