4/13/22 Great Falls NP – Great Falls, VA
In College Park campground, I talked with another camper who told me about this place. It is not well known, but the Great Falls National Park cascades there are huge and beautiful. I love visiting the smaller, less known parks. It’s like having the whole place to just a few people. It is a day park only and a tiny one, but the view of the great cascades is amazing. The visitor center was close and still is (under construction) and I missed my stamp :(.
After that I drove to Shenandoah National Park in VA and registered for a night in Big Meadows campground. I added another night because it was so pretty. I didn’t have a hookup, but the spot was near the washrooms. I don’t think there are any hookups in this campground. This is also bear country and the spots had food containers. I’m always careful about this, even in the van, after my experiences in Yellowstone. Just cautious, I guess.
This is a fantastic park, with hills and low mountain ranges all around. It rained the first day but the next was nice and sunny and a little warmer, though hazy and windy. I got my trail gear out and headed to my first trail, Stony Man Summit. This trail also forked off to the Appalachian Trail and mistakenly had my first experience on that one. I headed back to the fork and took the right trail to the summit. Wow what a view! I climbed the rocks to reach the top and then backed down. It was too windy for me to stick around and I headed back on the trail to the van. The next trail called Limberlost, was much easier, and it was paved and built for all ages and ADA accessible. There were many benches along the way and it was less than a mile around the loop.
The next day I went on another trail to Dark Hallow Falls. The ranger pointed out an easier path that wasn’t as steep as the shorter trail so I drove around to find it. After finding the parking lot the second time, I descended to the trail beyond the gate to find the falls. After an hour and a half, I noticed that there was no falls to be found, and realized that I was walking in the wrong direction! I was walking on the service road, not the road to the falls. I don’t know how far I walked, but by the time I got back to the van I was exhausted. I took a lunch break and found the sign that I had seen before. The damn trail was on the other side of the road! Determined to see the falls, I took my final walk for the day down the much shorter and slight inclined path to the falls. Seriously, I could kick myself for being so spacey! The small fall was beautiful and about 80 ft. high, with lots of rocks at the bottom. By this time in late afternoon, there were a lot of people there and I wasn’t able to take any great shots. I left my camera gear in the van because I was so tired of carrying it. The phone shots had to make up for it. Next time, I’ll try to listen to my gut and follow the right signs.
It was a great day, though, and I finally drove out of the park around 4 pm, which is very late to start the drive to my next destination, but I was on a schedule and had to make my way onward. Virginia is gorgeous with rolling hills and farms as far as the eye can see. I would visit this state again!
Two things I learned about my 5# propane tank. 1- you have to turn on the gas to read the regulator. I found out that my tank was full after going way out of my way to a propane station. 2- My tank is new, but it has to get certified every so often to be safe. Reminder to check the dates whenever I get it filled again. 3- Turn the gas on enough to get it flowing. I had it hooked up to my heater, but there wasn’t enough propane to get it to light up. I spent a very cold night in the van. Now, I crank it up at least half way.
After endless hours following some stupid google map that kept rerouting my directions, I landed in Boynton, PA and spent the night at a rest stop on the Penna Pike. It was a long and draining day for me.