Great Falls in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Globally Rare Environment
"In more than twenty-five years of field work, I have not seen another site with a comparable diversity of land forms, plants, and natural communities."
-Gary Fleming, Ecologist, Virginia DCR
Look around you. Have you noticed the unusual landscape here? Because of this landscape's wild river and rocky terrain, this is one of the country's most biologically diverse areas. Bedrock terraces high above the river, precarious ledges and floodplains have become a fragile home to over 30 distinct plant communities, three of which are not found anywhere else in the world. What has and continues to cause this diverse, rare life to exist? The river before you is the answer.
As you explore this 2.5-mile long trail you will encounter 14 trailside exhibits illustrating the unique features of the Potomac River Gorge and the important role it fills within the watershed.
Erected by George Washington Memorial Parkway, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 38° 59.753′ N, 77° 15.2′ W. Marker is in Great Falls, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Georgetown Pike (Virginia Route Click for map. Located along the Great Falls National Park main trail, at an overlook of the falls. Marker is in this post office area: Great Falls VA 22066, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. People and the Potomac (here, next to this marker); River of Change (here, next to this marker); The Patowmack Canal (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Olmsted Island (about 500 feet away in Maryland); a different marker also named The Patowmack Canal (about 700 feet away); Creating a National Park (approx. 0.3 miles away in Maryland); A Lift Lock (approx. 0.4 miles away in Maryland); Great Falls Tavern (approx. 0.4 miles away in Maryland). Click for a list of all markers in Great Falls.
More about this marker. The backdrop of the marker is an overhead photograph of the Falls and the gorge. A map illustrates the Potomac River Watershed, with a pull out map of the gorge. "What is a Watershed? It's an area of land from which rainwater and snowmelt drain into a larger body of water. Everybody lives in a watershed."
Also see . . . Great Falls Park. National Park Service site detailing the falls and the park. (Submitted on January 26, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Categories. • Environment • Natural Resources •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,053 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.