November 14, 2020: Field Trips: Great Falls, MD

Please join us in applying what we learned from September’s Education and Training session with Lynn Cates as we explore Great Falls, Maryland.


The C&O tow path between the visitor center and the path to the Great Falls overlooks offer opportunities to capture wildlife, color, reflections, and more.  Landscapes, details, abstracts, and more opportunities are available for what we hope will be peak Fall season subjects.

We’ll meet and greet outside the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center restrooms.  From there, we’ll head South towards Washington DC along the C&O tow path.  There are several trails that branch off the tow path that you’re welcome to explore as you practice your social distancing.  About 0.3 miles from the Visitor’s center is the Olmstead Island Trail that bridges the tow path to the primary overlook.  Beware the bridge will bob up and down as pedestrians cross.  It’s also narrow so take care if you decide put a tripod down on the bridge.  Anything you drop is instantly donated to the rocks and rapids below.  Additional photographic opportunities are also available within another mile down the path towards Washington.  Feel free to explore.  Please anticipate hiking on a compact gravelly path for about 1 mile or more.  Bring comfortable hiking shoes and anticipate the cooler weather.

For those unfamiliar with the area, please be advised that sections of the Billy Goat Trail should not be traversed (especially with expensive camera gear) unless you’re willing to accept the risks including steep drops and large rock scrambling.  Parts of that trail can be considered strenuous and people frequently injure themselves.  Also, as of July 3, 2020, this trail has also been designated one way going downstream towards Washington.

Tripods are widely accepted.  Please be mindful when staking your spot and maintain your social distancing.

Sunrise is anticipated at 6:50 a.m.

Here are some equipment recommendations:

  • A sturdy tripod
  • Any and all glass will be useful, however if you want to pick out details of the falls, consider a 200mm or longer lens with optional teleconverter. The estimated distance from the overlook to the middle of the falls is about 40 yards.
  • Filters optional, though a polarizer to eliminate glare may come in handy since you’ll be shooting perpendicular to the sunrise.


Saturday,  November 14, 2020 from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Rain date on Sunday, November 15, 2020 from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.


We’ll assemble briefly at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center / restrooms adjacent to the parking lot.  If you don’t see us there, head South towards Washington DC until you reach the overlook trailhead.  You’re certain to run into other members.


Entrance fees have increased in January 2020.  The current rate per car is $20.  If you walk into the park, the cost is $10.  The fee buys you a permit allowing you to reenter both sides of Great Falls (Maryland and Virginia side) for up to seven days from the date issued.  America the Beautiful and Great Falls Annual pass holders gain free entry.  If you’re on the fence about getting an America the Beautiful pass, know that the cost of the Great Falls Annual pass can be put towards upgrading to the America the Beautiful pass.

Carpools are recommended to save you cash provided you can travel with others in your extended “bubble”.  Please remember to bring a mask and anticipate wearing the mask while around others.  Please also be patient and remain the recommended six feet away from other visitors.

We hope you can join us!

Tammy Tideswell and Steven Glintz
Field Trip Coordinators 2020-2021

* Photographs courtesy Stan Bysshe.  Additional examples and inspiration available on NVPS gallery. Great Falls Gallery


This entry was posted in Activities, Field Trips.