Hike the Scott's Run Nature Preserve Trail

Scott's Run Nature Preserve Parking

In the middle of the suburban sprawl that is McLean lies a small nature oasis of 300+ acres in Scott's Run Nature Preserve, bordering the Potomac River. 

This nature preserve can be hiked year-round and is a sanctuary for rare wildflowers, birds, and other wildlife including deer and fox. There are six main interconnecting trails that run through the preserve; winding their way around matured hardwood forest, sheer bluffs, and rocky cliffs overlooking the Potomac River.

There are two parking lots with trailheads linked by a connector trail. To start this loop, park at the larger western parking area just past the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Swinks Mill Rd. Start down the path from the trailhead entrance, where in 0.3 miles you will turn right to cross over the river at the cement pillar stepping stones. Head uphill for 0.1 mile until you reach the junction of the wooden stairs, where you will turn left and continue downhill for 0.1 miles. At the bottom of the hill is the waterfall, which converges with the Potomac River. 

For a short hike, you can return back the way you came, or to continue the loop, turn right at the waterfall and continue hiking 0.5 miles along the riverbank on the Potomac Heritage Trail, until you reach Stubblefield Falls Overlook on your left-- a rocky outcropping that looks out over the Potomac. From the intersection of the Potomac Heritage Trail with the overlook, turn right onto the yellow blazed Stubblefield Falls Overlook Trail. Continue on this trail for about a mile to the smaller eastern parking lot. Once you reach the lot, turn right to return to your starting point via the purple parking lot connector trail.

Pack List

  • Comfortable hiking shoes or sneakers
  • Water
  • Camera
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RT Distance 2.5 Miles
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great views of the Potomac River

The beginning of the trail is quiet pungent, I would honestly consider renaming this sewage run. There are at least a half a dozen spots in the first half mile that reek of sewage, past that the river and waterfall are beautiful and amazing. I’m just disappointed at the sewage exhaust and manhole covers in a nature preserve.

Nice, Short Hike

The Hike to the falls was easy, as you are following an access road most of the way. Once you get to the falls it's a bit of a letdown. Lots of people were there and lots of trash everywhere. Seriously people, clean up after yourself. Teach your kids to clean up after themselves. From there we took another path around. Which was actually quite enjoyable. Some steep hills to climb on the way to the cabin, and some Steep downhills on the way back. I would do it again, for a short hike it wasn't bad at all, and the setup is nice. There were walkways to help you cross the streams and it was relatively easy. You could go swimming too, as many people were. Water has a slight smell to it though.

It's Okay...

If you live in the DC area this is a place you definitely should checkout. I wouldn't make a special trip to see this trail and waterfall however. It's proximity to DC and being in the middle of the suburbs, it gets very crowded on a nice day. It is nice however that it is nature in a fairly urban/suburban area when you have to drive out into Maryland or Virginia to immerse yourself in it usually.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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