There’s nothing quite as nice as having an old friend you haven’t seen in while call up to ask if you want to grab part of a nice day for a hike. I almost always say yes to such a suggestion and this weekend it landed me at a Fairfax County park near Great Falls called River Bend.
I had heard of River Bend, but never been there and neither had my friend Penny. We had headed in the direction of Great Falls because she wanted to investigate Lift Me Up stables with a view to volunteering with its therapeutic riding program. After we talked with some very nice, very informative people and got a satisfying dose of horse, we were very close to both Great Falls park and River Bend. We decided to try something new.
I was excited that a park so close and easy to access had kayaking. They also have both a visitor center and a nature center. We drove in near the visitor center, which has a wonderful deck overlooking the river, a natural history exhibit, and some live snakes and a gray tree frog.
We asked a staff person for a map of the trails and a recommendation about walks. Both of us wanted to walk near the river, so we took the Potomac Heritage Trail, which led us through woods and up to the Witch Hazel Bluff. This provided a lovely view of the river through bare trees.
Because of the rich history of the Potomac, there is also a trail along which James Madison (and one presumes Dolly as well) escaped across the river to Maryland after the British invaded Washington during the War of 1812. We saw ducks, geese, an eagle, and some water birds we could not identify. With its picnic areas and grills, along with its woodland and river trails, it seems well suited to all ages and worth visiting in any season. I’ll be back!