Great Falls, Potomac, Maryland.  Photo courtesy of Peter J. Pfeiffer, Jr.
Great Falls, Potomac, Maryland. Photo courtesy of Peter J. Pfeiffer, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Peter J. Pfeiffer
Photo courtesy of Peter J. Pfeiffer, Jr.
Views of other smaller falls on the Potomac River from the boardwalk on Olmsted Island.  Photo courtesy of Peter J. Pfeiffer.
Views of other smaller falls on the Potomac River from the boardwalk on Olmsted Island. Photo courtesy of Peter J. Pfeiffer, Jr.

In my last entry, I mentioned the preserved canal system running parallel with the C&O Canal towpath. Today, I highlight the equally impressive Great Falls just opposite Lock 17. The above three photos were taken from Olmsted Island, on the Maryland side, by military veteran and volunteer Virginia Master Naturalist, Peter J. Pfeiffer. Because I could kick myself for leaving my Nikon at home, Peter was kind enough to send copies of his beauties taken at sunset.

Olmsted Island sits smack dab in the middle of the roughest part of the Potomac river. Named after the NY’s Central Park landscape architect, Fredrick Olmsted, the rocky island is navigable from a gentle, winding boardwalk perfect for wheelchairs and bird-watching enthusiasts.

The island is rich in natural wildlife and dense ecology. This place is also a haven for hikers but at the hour that I visited only photographers elbowed the platform for pictures.

“Most people don’t realize it, but [this area] is one of the top 25 visitation sites nationwide,” said Bill Line, a spokesman for the National Park Service. (Read more on the Baltimore Sun)

Even at dusk, adrenaline-seeking kayakers braved the rapids and funnels running downstream through the narrow Mather Gorge.

“The water level fluctuates greatly,” said Peter, pointing to the lower tree branches of Olmsted Island. With dubious eyes, I stared at Peter finding that fact inconceivable.

Great Falls is part of the nearly 20,000-acre C&O National Historical Park and something you absolutely need to visit. For more information, visit the National Park Service.

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