Greetings from Great Falls Park

As a Nevadan, I have always held a special place for our state’s one and only national park. Coming from Las Vegas, Great Basin National Park is like arriving to another planet. Unlike home, it’s rugged mountains, green pastures and tall pines are a delight, especially in summer. So when I was thinking of what I wanted to do for my 65th birthday, Great Basin National Park came to mind. The campgrounds are a wonderful way to experience the park but my absolute favorite is Wheeler Peak Campground. The steep ride up is exhilarating and the campground is nestled amid towering pines. Since my birthday is in July, this seemed like the perfect place to get out of the desert heat and as we set up camp, the cool breeze was a welcome confirmation that this was a great birthday choice! As we hiked some of the shorter loop trails in the area that first evening, Wheeler Peak never left my sight. It was almost like it was beckoning me! When I told my husband I wanted to hike Wheeler Peak for my birthday, he was stunned. Although we’d hiked trails longer and steeper than this, my sudden decision seemed a bit whimsical. But as always, he was right there with me when we set off on the trail in the early morning light. I will not tell you that the trail is easy. It requires stamina, good footing and lots of water and snacks! Once you get above the treeline, the rocky trail with loose gravel and boulders gets tricky. But what I loved most about it was that the peak never leaves your sight, which is a great motivator! Unlike most trails in national parks, this trail offers quiet and solitude. We stopped occasionally to chat with fellow hikers who hailed from various cities and countries. The young people we met left me with a sense that even in my older age, goals and dreams are so important. Once at the top, I felt a true sense of accomplishment as I viewed the world around me. When we got back to our camp in early evening, dinner consisted of a nice dose of ibuprofen and off to bed! There will be other days to celebrate. But today, I hiked Wheeler Peak at age 65!

Michele Sinagra

Great Falls Park

At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park only 15 miles from the nation's capital.

State(s): Maryland Virginia,

Established: 1966

“They are a way to connect with nature, to appreciate the incredible beauty of this planet and to feed our souls.”

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