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USA Great Falls / Olmsted Island Viewpoint (Maryland)

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A must see for nature & landscape photographers visiting the Washington DC area, Great Falls is a particularly scenic section of the Potomac River and flows through what is known as Mather Gorge.

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Travel Information

There are 2 main points of access for viewing Great Falls as the Potomac River basically serves as a boundary between the US states of Maryland & Virginia. This post focuses on the Maryland side, with ample parking available via the C&O Canal (Chesapeake & Ohio Canal) maintained by the National Park Service.

Most of the C&O Canal and its 180+ mile long trail / towpath is free to access, walk and bike; *but* given the popularity of the Great Falls section, there is an entrance fee if you want to park closest to the Olmsted Island viewpoint near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. $10 per vehicle at last check for a 3 day pass, or if you live in the USA and visit the National Parks regularly, an annual pass will cover your entry into Great Falls.

Otherwise highly recommended, there are some strenuous hikes in the area like the Billy Goat Trail, but the most scenic view of Great Falls from the Maryland side as seen from Olmsted Island is an easy walk. From the main parking you follow mostly flat terrain along the C&O Canal towpath which veers off into a sidetrail to include a couple foot bridges. Under 30 minutes walk from the main parking as a conservative estimate.

Official park website: https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/greatfallstavernvisitorcenter.htm
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Sunrise & Sunset 06:53 - 19:10 | current local time: 00:57
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Thank you Nicolas Raymond for creating this photo spot.
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