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7 Must-Visit Waterfalls Within 100-Miles of Dulles

As the summer approaches, it is time to go chasing waterfalls — here is a list within a day-trip distance of Dulles International Airport.

You and your family can enjoy a picnic, climb rocks, go fishing, and look for fresh water mermaids. Just start hiking and forget those rivers and lakes you are used to.

Image courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

Scott’s Run | McLean, VA
About 14-miles from Dulles International Airport

Just 1-mile from the beltway on Georgetown Pike, adjacent to Tysons Corner, lies a hidden natural oasis surrounded by urban sprawl. The Scott’s Run Nature Preserve has a few hiking trails, one of which runs along the Potomac River and ends in a 15-foot waterfall. Sightseeing and fishing are the main activities here, but any kind of swimming or wading is prohibited. Enjoy the rare wildflower species you can view as you hike along the creek. At one area, you can also enjoy boulder hopping across the river! The Park Authority also occasionally holds instructional nature programs at Scott’s Run. The preserve is a beautiful reminder of Mother Nature standing tall and proud amidst a concrete jungle. Scott’s run is located at 7400 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA.


Image courtesy of

Great Falls National Park | McLean, VA
About 16-miles from Dulles International Airport

Sometimes we get so used to a name of an area, we forget how it got its moniker. Great Falls is not simply a suburban neighborhood, but is the site of a steep drop in the Potomac River. Dead Run and Difficult Run Falls are also in this area and worth a visit. Sightseeing and fishing are the main activities here, but any kind of swimming or wading is prohibited as the current is just far too strong. Click here for information on 3 prime spots to view the falls, including Overlook 1, 2, and 3.


Image courtesy of Ben Myers

Cascade Falls at Patapsco Valley State Park | Ellicott City, MD
About 58-miles from Dulles International Airport

Cascade Falls at Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland isn’t massive or loud. A sweet forested falls, it strikes you as the type of place you might find fairies or gnomes. A quiet pool at the bottom and plenty of fallen trees or rocks to climb on make it the perfect place for exploring. It is mostly an easy hike, with a few steep areas, which tends to make it popular. To find this waterfall, use this map.


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Falls Trail Waterfall at Cunningham Falls State Park | Thurmont, MD
About 59-miles from Dulles International Airport

If you are looking for a place that has everything for a day adventure, Cunningham Falls State Park may be it. A gorgeous waterfall with a drop of 78-feet is the backdrop for a swimmable lake with a beach and camping area. Another section of the park contains an aviary and reptile house as well as a historic iron furnace. The waterfall can be accessed via Falls Nature Trail, a round-trip hike of 2.8 miles with a 40-foot ascent.


Dark Hollow Falls

Waterfalls at Shenandoah National Forest | Luray, VA
About 83-miles from Dulles International Airport

This wonderful national park has a wealth of things to do with a total of nine beautiful waterfalls to keep you busy. Dark Hollow Falls is a picturesque favorite that legend says intrigued Thomas Jefferson enough to visit multiple times. It is a quick 1.4-mile hike from Skyline Drive and closest to the restaurants and park amenities. Whiteoak Canyon Falls and Cedar Run Falls are both relatively easy hikes and are best for taking a dip.

South River Falls is the most versatile, with many different ways to hike the trail you can make it a quick jaunt or a full work out. Lands Run Falls, is a lesser visited site, but is close to the road. It can dry up in summer, so make sure to check with park staff before making the trip.

Feel free to bring a snack or picnic lunch on your hikes to the falls, but no cooking facilities are on the trails. Also please remember that most hikes are down towards the falls, which means you need to conserve enough energy to make it back up at the end of the day.


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Falling Branch (Kilgore) Falls at Rocks State Park | Pylesville, MD
About 99-miles from Dulles International Airport

Hike out to Deer Creek in Harford County for a look at the serene Falling Branch Falls. This is an undeveloped trail that gets you back to nature. The lack of facilities translates to a falls area that reminds you more of Middle Earth than Niagara.

Japanese Garden Falls at Maymont Gardens | Richmond, VA
About 122-miles from Dulles International Airport

Falling just outside of our 100-mile radius and in a more developed setting, the Japanese Garden Falls are worth mentioning. Located in the historic Maymont Estate in Richmond, the falls playing a dramatic part in the traditionally designed Japanese garden. Rocks for climbing, lawns for relaxing, and traditional elements such as raked sand pools round out this landscape. If you are looking for a more exciting way to enjoy its beauty, the estate offers festival days and traditional Japanese concerts, as well as a more formal Italian garden.

Disclaimer/Terms: These opportunities are subject to last minute cancellations and changes that might not be reflected in this post. Please, always confirm by calling/clicking.

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