Hike the Scott's Run Nature Preserve Trail

Virginia Scott's Run Nature Preserve Parking

Added by Jayce Christine

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
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

2.5 Miles

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Swimming Hole
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

6 days ago

Don't Come For The Falls

Once we got here we hiked directly to Scott's Run Falls thinking it would be the highlight of the hike. However, there was trash and litter everywhere as well as Tina of people and noise. The real beauty is in the rest of the park. My favorite 2 places are the Potomac Heritage Trail running along the river and the overlook trail. The Potomac heritage trail traverses some steep cliffs and goes through lush greens. Truly beautiful. The overlook at the end of the overlook trail is also very nice. Don't come for the Falls though.

6 days ago

about 1 month ago

One of my Fav's!

I love this spot. I like to go first thing in the morning and beat the crowds. It is truly one of the most beautiful parks in Northern Virginia.

about 1 month ago

More Adventures Nearby

Take a Stroll around Maymont Park

Virginia / Maymont Park

There are two entrances to Maymont: the Nature Center Parking area and the Estate Parking Lot.

Elyse Clark
8 Saves

Hike Cedar Run Falls Trail

Virginia / Whiteoak Canyon Lower Parking Lot

Cedar Run Falls is located in the central district of Shenandoah National Park.  This is a pretty waterfall that flows into a deep swimming hole.

Brandon Dewey
12 Saves

Photograph Brown Mountain Overlook

Virginia / Brown Mountain Overlook

At mile post 77 off of Skyline Drive, Brown Mountain Overlook offers photographers a western view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, and the Shenandoah Valley.

Brandon Dewey
5 Saves