The Great Falls area offers some of the best hiking in the metro DC area. Great Falls is itself a unit of the National Park Service. Nearby is the popular day hiking trail, the Billy Goat Trail with it's three sections that can be connected utilizing the historical Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which runs from Washington DC near Georgetown to Cumberland, MD. I visited this area several times for day hikes as well as running.
For a map see here: http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/upload/greatfallstrailmap.pdf
For my first visit I came with my brother and we did a loop incorporating Billy Goat section A and Berma Road. We parked on the side of the road up from Anglers Inn. We began on Berma Road.
We crossed on a bridge over the canal.
We joined the Towpath briefly.
Then joined the Billy Goat Trail Section A from its northern terminus.
Section A is the most challenging as far as rockiness and steepness, but we were rewarded with great views overlooking the Potomac River.
Most of the trail was rock hopping, but the part below was the steepest.
After finishing Section A of the Billy Goat Trail we joined the towpath heading back to our car.
On our next visit we went to the main falls and also did Section B of the Billy Goat Trail. We parked at the Great Falls visitor which does charge a fee.
One of the canal's locks with the Potomac River to the left
It was a short hike over to Great Falls over bridges and on a scenic boardwalk.
From the falls we hiked down the towpath and joined Billy Goat Section B.
We joined the towpath and returned northbound.
I later returned for some trail running, approximately 10 miles. I started at the Carderock parking and headed north on the towpath until I joined Billy Goat section B. After Billy Goat section B, I continued on the towpath to Billy Goat Section A, which was slower as running it is challenging. I then continued on the towpath to Great Falls and turned around, heading back on the towpath to Carderock, where I did a counterclockwise loop of Billy Goat Section C. It was a beautiful evening and great training for my upcoming half marathon.
This is one of my favorite day hiking areas in the metro DC area. The towpath also offers extended opportunities for hiking and biking that I may pursue in the future.