Top Places For

Seeing a Waterfall

Imagine the sight of cool, clear water cascading down rocks and rivers in a beautiful waterfall. Calming, isn’t it? Well, you can find lots of waterfalls right here in the Chesapeake region -- some only minutes from home!

From the gentle waters of Gunpowder Falls State Park to the jaw-dropping gorge at Great Falls, waterfalls large and small are scattered throughout the Chesapeake region. You just need to know where to look for them.

Some of the Chesapeake’s larger parks are a prime destination for viewing waterfalls. Hike to a dozen different waterfalls at Shenandoah National Park. Or splash and play in a pool of water under the falls at Rocks State Park. At Cunningham Falls, the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland spills down from rocks eight stories high. Spend a day or make a weekend out of waterfall watching at any of these spectacular mountain retreats.

But you don’t have to drive for hours to find a waterfall. Just outside of Washington, D.C. in Fairfax County, Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is home to a waterfall that originates in the most unlikely of places: the parking lots of Tysons Corner. And south of Baltimore lies Patapsco Valley State Park, with a small cascading waterfall that makes a perfect destination for a morning hike.

So head out this weekend to one of the top places for seeing a waterfall. Just don’t forget your camera!

Bridge at Cunningham Falls State Park

Cunningham Falls State Park

Cunningham Falls State Park is located in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains, opportunities including swimming, hiking, fishing and canoeing are available.

Thurmont, MD

Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park

Just 15 miles from the Nation's capital, Great Falls is considered the most spectacular natural landmark in the DC metropolitan area. The park providing a series of trails and overlooks from which to view the falls and the gorge.

McLean, VA

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park protects the stream valleys of the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. The long, narrow 18,000 acre park ranges from tidal marshes and wetlands near the Bay to steep, rugged slopes upstream.

Kingsville, MD

Kayakers on the Upper James River Blueway

James River Water Trail - Upper

The Upper James River Water Trail meanders through beautiful Botetourt County. You'll experience the unspoiled beauty of the river as you paddle through scenic valleys and past rolling farmland while keeping a watchful eye out for wildlife.

Botetourt, VA

Maury River Water Trail

Maury River Water Trail

The Maury River Water Trail runs from Cedar Grove down to the James River along 34 of the Maury's 42 mile length. The Maury River is considered one of the most beautiful whitewater rivers in Virginia.

Lexington, VA

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley includes five developed recreational areas, providing hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park's many popular pavilions.

Ellicott City, MD

Rivanna River Water Trail

Rivanna River Water Trail

Canoe or kayak through historic landscapes and natural areas where once Thomas Jefferson roamed. The 38 mile Rivanna River Water Trail gives you the chance to explore this historic landscape by canoe or kayak.

Charlottesville, VA

Overlook View in Autumn at Rocks State Park

Rocks State Park

Rocks State Park features opportunities for fishing, hiking, picnicking, canoeing and tubing, as well as bow hunting, rock climbing and repelling. Playgrounds, shelters, and comfort stations are available at each of the three picnic areas.

Jarrettsville, MD

Hikers on Tree Lined Path at Scott's Run Nature Preserve

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

Scotts Run Nature Preserve consists of a hilly, wildflower-riddled tract of riverside woodlands northwest of Washington. For songbirds and other wildlife, it’s a sanctuary. For local people, it’s a community park.

McLean, VA

Scenic Overlook of Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—plan a hike, a meander along Skyline Drive, or a picnic with the family.

Front Royal, VA

Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area - Lonecellotheory/Flickr

Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Enjoy spectacular scenery and outstanding outdoor recreation at the headwaters of the Potomac River.

Seneca Rocks, WV

May 23, 2016

Main image: Dark Hollow Falls at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (Image courtesy: Pete / Flickr)
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