Just off the Beltway, Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean is a testament to homegrown conservation. The 336-acre tract was saved from becoming a housing development in the 1960s after residents taxed themselves to pay part of the $3.6-million cost of the land.
The highlight is a remote waterfall along the Potomac. To see it, you can hike a 2.2-mile loop. Park in the main lot (the second one, next to the Betty Cooke Memorial Bridge) and follow the gravel path down and across the stream. Concrete posts serve as a footbridge and make for a fun way to do your best Abbey Road impression. The waterfall is another half mile. After admiring the cascade, continue east on the green-blazed trail along the riverbank. When the water is low, exposed rocks may form a path into the river for a remarkable view up and down its length. Continue uphill to an outcropping for another fantastic water vista. Stay straight on the path through the woods to reach the first parking lot, and finish the loop on the wooded trail to the main lot.
The preserve is at 7400 Georgetown Pike in McLean. For more information, visit the Fairfax County Park Authority.
This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.