George Washington Memorial Parkway – Great Falls Park

GWMP Mine Run

Great Falls Park – just one of several sites along the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) – offers students numerous opportunities to discover nature and our nation’s history. Students can sample for benthic macroinvertebrates, test the water quality, and assess the habitat of a nearby tributary to the Potomac River. A short walk to the Falls displays the Park’s spectacular geology where the river builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The ruins of the Patowmack Canal offer a vivid glimpse into the early history of this country.

Location: Great Falls Park marks the northwestern terminus of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean, Virginia. The address for GPS purposes is 9200 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, VA 22102.

  • Field Studies available: Watershed WatchdogsWater Canaries, Don’t Get Sedimental, Exotic Invaders
  • Habitat: Lowland forest; river/stream bank
  • Terrain: Approximately a 5-7 minute walk from the main parking lot. Flat, even terrain to the stream’s edge; trail can be quite muddy in places. Sparse vegetation at the stream bank, including poison ivy. Less than a three-foot bank in most places to access stream bed. Stream shallow under normal water conditions – mid -calf or lower.
  • Suitable for the disabled
  • Facilities: Restrooms at Visitors Center, 5-7- minute walk 


For more information on Great Falls Park, including directions, visitor information and hours of operation, visit their official website.