Summary: This trail has outstanding views of the Potomac River and Great Falls. Difficult run is also very scenic. There is abundant wildlife and lots of kayaks if the water is up fairly high. To continue the directions listed below under trailhead, see the following.
Follow the directions below under trailhead. After reaching the Great Falls Overlooks, enjoy the views and then head down river on the blue marked River Trail. After following the river for a couple of miles the trail turns uphill and ends at the intersection with the Ridge Trail. Turn left and follow the trail to Difficult Run. At the run turn left and follow the trail down to the view of the river. Then turn around and follow the Difficult Run trail, up the hill under the Georgetown Pike bridge and end up back at the parking lot.
Trailhead: Exit the capital beltway onto Georgetown Pike, headed west. Soon after crossing the bridge over Difficult Run there is a parking lot on the left. To begin the hike cross over the road at the entrance to the lot. You will find an unmarked trail which heads up into the woods. When it ends, turn left on the ridge trail which is very wide. After a short distance, a trail to the right is marked by a split rail fence. Go down that trail which leads to the swamp trail, where you take a left, pass by restrooms on your right and come to the Great Falls Overlooks. See hike summary for continuation. (Lat:39.0233807494174 Lon:-77.1570003707037)
Trail Guides for Difficult Run to Great Falls Loop:
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Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: National Park Service 703-285-2965
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Keith Ferguson, who has posted 10 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by RL on 9/5/2009
The referenced unmarked trail has been closed by the NPS.
Reviewed by EWS on 10/14/2008
Havn't hiked this trail, but a good portion of the difficult run trail has been reportedly washed out.
Reviewed by Keith on 2/15/2008
I am using this as quick way to respond to the review that refers to swimming holes in Difficult Run. It is against US Park regulations to swim in the river or the run. Currents in both can be very strong. The Hike Reporter
Reviewed by TD on 1/18/2008
Note that this is "Difficult Run" stream, not a difficult hike, that is the name of the body of water. The trail is scenic and has a few hills, but otherwise wide and easy to traverse.
Reviewed by EGE on 6/7/2007
The unmarked trail is easy to find, beautiful hike, great view of falls. Further down Difficult Run, past The Falls, there are great swimming holes. There are a lot of other side trails to be explored. We will return frequently.
Reviewed by Mike in McLean on 1/6/2007
I run in Great falls/Difficult Run, Riverbend and Scotts Run often. I like this loop the best. You CAN get a map with mileage on it from the Ranger Post in Great Falls Park at the Northern most end of Old Dominion Drive. If you park in the Difficult Run Lot on GT Pike and can't find the "Unmarked trail" that the origional poster mentioned, directly across the road, well, maybe you shouldn't be outdoors by yourself.
Reviewed by Sonny Chiba on 11/26/2006
I suppose the name "difficult run" stems mostly from the fact that if a person were running it, it would probably be pretty difficult. otherwise, it's just a generic hiking trail that leads to a national park. the unmarked trail that was supposedly listed in the directions were very unclear, and got my companions and i headed back towards the main road. if anyone is looking for good hiking, the "DC/Metro/Virginia/Maryland" area link is the first wrong step anyone could take.
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