About 30 minutes outside D.C. lies the Virginia side of Great Falls National Park. (Split by the Potomac, the Falls have a Virginia side and a Maryland side. You can see people on the Maryland side, but there is no bridge connecting it. A true border of North and South, pointed out Karey.)
There are several lookout spots to observe the falls and the Mather Gorge, as well as several hiking trails with helpful signposts.
After hitting the lookout spots, we set out for the River Trail. The trail hugged the river so we always had a great view. It was very much a hiking trail, taking us over large rocks, tight passages, and, toward the end, a painful uphill stretch. It was really well marked with a good mixture of natural features and human-made steps and bridges.
At one point we came across a fallen tree that reminded me of the one in my favorite part of "Dirty Dancing." Naturally, I had to pose with it.
It was a blazing hot day but also very clear. And while the park itself was very busy with picnicking families, the trails were fairly empty so it really did feel like we got away.
My family camped a lot when I was a kid, so I've spent a lot of time in the woods and nature and exploring.. I don't handle bugs and animals well, at all, but I do love nature. I haven't been able to do something like in awhile and it felt really good.