Must-Visit Waterfalls

It’s always a great time to chase a few waterfalls; here’s a list perfect for a day trip (shown in order of distance from Dulles Airport):

Scott’s Run
McLean, VA (~14 m from Dulles 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. The preserve is a beautiful reminder of Mother Nature standing tall and proud amidst a concrete jungle.


Great Falls National Park
McLean, VA (~16 m from Dulles Airport)

Sometimes we get so used to the name of an area that 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 are 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 Overlooks 1, 2, and 3.


Cascade Falls
Ellicott City, MD (~58 m from Dulles Airport)

Cascade Falls at Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland isn’t massive or loud. A quiet pool at the bottom and plenty of fallen trees or rocks to climb on make Cascades Falls the perfect place for exploring. It is mostly an easy hike, with a few steep areas, making it popular. To find this waterfall, use this map.


Falls Trail Waterfall
Thurmont, MD (~59 m from Dulles Airport)

If you are looking for a place with everything for a day’s 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.


Waterfalls At Shenandoah National Forest
Luray, VA (~83 m from Dulles 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 is 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 workout. Lands Run Falls is a lesser-visited site, however, it 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. Please remember that most hikes are down toward the falls, which means you need to conserve enough energy to make it back up at the end of the day.


Falling Branch (Kilgore) Falls
Pylesville, MD (~99 m from Dulles 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.


Japanese Garden Falls
Richmond, VA (~122 m from Dulles 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 play 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: Events/opportunities are curated from public sources and are subject to changes/cancelations that might not be reflected on