Great Falls : Kid Friendly Outdoor Recreation and Nature

 

great falls national park outdoor recreation and nature

Perfect weather on an October weekend in Virginia meant we were taking it outside to a favorite destination, Great Falls National Park.  Great Falls is a unique treasure so close to the urban center of DC.  A trip to the waterfalls and hiking trails makes you almost forget the traffic and fast paced life of the surrounding areas.  The Great Falls National Park is nestled right off the beltway.  The national park encompassing over 800 acres along the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland boasts some of the most majestic nature and stunning vistas in the DC area.  It also provides  excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation and historical explorations.

The Virginia side is officially named Great Falls Park, while the Maryland side is actually part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  The main attraction, which is the gorgeous cascading water of the Mather Gorge, visible from both sides, makes it all considered Great Falls. And it absolutely lives up to the name.

great falls national park outdoor recreation and nature

Activities available at the parks include hiking, rock climbing, biking, horseback riding, fishing and kayaking.  Both sides of the park have their own Visitor Centers which is nice to stop in with children.  There are interesting exhibits and hands-on activities for discovering more about the nature, wildlife, and history of the local area.

great falls national park outdoor recreation and nature

The Billy Goat Trail on the Maryland side is the most well known in the park.  It is just under five miles, winds through trees, outcroppings of large rocks, and along  paths in the area between the C&O Canal and Potomac River. This fun yet rugged trail offers awe inspiring views, but it tends to get crowded and includes parts that could be a bit difficult for young children.

great falls national park outdoor recreation and nature

There are designated overlooks of the falls on both sides Great Falls Park. In Maryland, there is lookout  just a short walk from the parking lot, where you can take in views of different parts of the Mather Gorge. In Virginia, overlooks with views of the gushing rapids and falls are right off the trail, not far from the Visitors Center. Both offer equally beautiful views of the Gorge.

As with many activities near DC, there can be crowds.  On a nice weekend the parking lots tend to fill up early and there can be a line of cars waiting at the entrance.  If possible try and visit on a weekday, or at least arrive early on a weekend.

great falls national park outdoor recreation and nature

Some useful tips to note if planning a visit;

  • wear good shoes for hiking, there are rocks and uneven footing on the trails
  • restrooms are located at the Visitor Center on both sides of the park
  • swimming is NOT allowed
  • Concessions are available but it is much more fun to bring a picnic

great falls national park outdoor recreation and nature

Great Falls Park is open daily from 7am to 30 minutes after sunset. The Visitor Centers are open 10am – 4pm. The Snack Bar is open March through October 10am – 4pm. Admission, good for three days, is $10/vehicle, $5/individual on foot or bike. Entrances are located at 9200 Old Dominion Drive in McLean, VA, and 11710 MacArthur Blvd in Potomac, MD

Looking for other day trips to take, check our apple picking guide in Virginia and a review of Great Country Farms.

OVER TO YOU

Have you been to Great Falls?  Where else do you go hiking in Virginia?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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The Ultimate Fall Lactation Cookies

Honestly I didn’t think I would be eating lactation cookies 13 months into my third baby’s life!  I’ve been going back and forth about when to wean.  But this past weekend he came down with a fever, a really really high fever.  Like 103.9.  He didn’t want to eat.  Would not drink water.  And was so lethargic.  But he would nurse, and nurse, and nurse.  And to quote my dear friend it was “Nursing for the win!”.  I knew he was getting nutrients and staying hydrating so it helped me to worry a little bit less.

However the problem was that my supply of milk had really diminished during the last couple months as nursing sessions decreased.  So my body was trying to keep up with the sudden demand, and I was struggling.  So I dug up my favorite lactation cookie recipe, and gave it the perfect fall boost.  Pumpkin and chocolate.  I also threw some all spice and cinnamon to really kick it up a few notches.  Honestly I had never tried this combination in a cookie until last fall.  My friend made the most amazing cookies that I seriously hoarded in my bedroom and wouldn’t share with my kids.  Or my husband.

The great thing about my recipe is that they are actually pretty healthy for you.  And it makes a really large batch so it actually lasts a couple days in my cookie loving household.  I actually encourage my kids to eat them since they have a pretty great nutritional punch.

Don’t worry, the milk ingredients won’t affect the other people who eat them.  But they will help a nursing mama.  I usually eat three the first day, then 2 each day after and then magic, milk supply increases!

 

The milk enhancing ingredients are Brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, and fenugreek.  All of these items can locally be found at Wegman’s or MOMS Organic.   They can also easily be ordered from Amazon.  You can usually find flaxseed and fenugreek at places like Walmart, Target, local food store.  The oats in the recipe are also an ingredient to help milk supply, so having all 4 in one recipe should be golden.

So go ahead and make some for your family, yourself if you’re nursing, or a a new mama who needs a special treat.  Experiment with different add ins such as nuts, chia seeds, spices, let me know how they turn out.

Make sure to Pin this recipe so it doesn’t get lost in cyber space.  Pinterest seems to be the only way I can keep track of awesome new recipes I want to try.

 

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Pumpkin chocolate chip Lactation Cookies

These work!  These lactation cookies really help boost your milk supply thanks to key ingredients.  They are freezer friendly, delicious, and a breastfeeding mama's best friend.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Author Nicole

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brewer's yeast (main ingredient for milk production)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 8 capsules fenugreek empty and discard capsules
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla or orange extract
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

    2. Mix flaxseed meal and water; set aside

    3.  Stir together flour, brewer's yeast, salt, baking soda, fenugreek, chia seeds, all spice and cinnamon, set aside.

    4.  Blend coconut oil, sugars, and pumpkin puree well.  Blend in eggs.  Stir in flaxseed mixture and vanilla, mix well.

    5.  Add dry mixture.  Mix until combined.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

    6.  Scoop 2 Tbsp of dough, 1 to 2 inches apart on a silicone lined baking sheet.  You may want to flatten dough slightly.

    7.  Bake for 9 to 10 minutes.

    8.  Once cooled wrap in plastic wrap and place in container in the freezer.  Eat at least 2 cookies the first day, and one each day afterwards.  They can be rewarmed quickly in the microwave.

Recipe Notes

*Recipe altered from Dinnernowdessertlater.com

Warning: Consult with your doctor before making and eating this recipe.  Discontinue use and consult with doctor if there are adverse reactions.

 

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