“This rugged segment of the PHT is natural surface singletrack that hugs the Potomac River.”
— Brian Smith
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Starting from Scotts Run Nature Preserve, the PHT continues out the back of the parking lot next to Scotts Run on its way down to the Potomac river. Cross Scotts Run on a fair-weather crossing a series of concrete posts and continue straight ahead. Turn right and recross Scotts Run on another fair-weather crossing and ascend a steep hill. From the crest of the hill, descend steeply toward the Potomac River.
Turn to the right and follow the trail downstream parallel to the Potomac River. Trail veers to the right and follows a small stream uphill, then turns left and climbs a set of stone steps. Follow the turquoise blazes along the bluff. Cross a trail heading uphill to the right, leading eventually to the upper parking lot of the Scotts Run Preserve.
To the left and downhill is a large rock outcrop providing superb views of the Potomac River and Stubblefield Falls. Continue following the turquoise blazes along the bluff, cross a small stream and head straight ahead. At the next trail junction, turn right and head steeply uphill following an old road. Turn left at the four-way trail junction at the top of the hill.
Swing right and pass around the back side of tennis courts and a swimming pool. Cross facility parking lot onto Live Oak Dr. Turn to the left and follow Live Oak Drive downhill to the cul-de-sac. At the cul-de-sac, find the signed trailhead on the right and follow the turquoise blazes downhill, then turn right across a small bridge.
Pass under the Capital Beltway bridge and continue downstream along the Potomac River. Cross Dead Run on large stepping stones and ascend to the opposite bank. To the right is a yellow-blazed trail heading up the Dead Run canyon and eventually rejoining the Potomac Heritage Trail at Turkey Run Parking. Reach the Turkey Run and trail heading uphill to the right. Descend stairs to reach Turkey Run. Cross the stream on rock steps and turn left on the opposite side toward the Potomac River Veer to the right and ascend up the hillside away from the Potomac River. Descend from the crest of the hill and follow the turquoise blazes in the wooded strip between the GW Memorial Parkway and Crest Lane.
BE ALERT. The PHT traverses a GW Memorial Parkway and Rte. 123 cloverleaf intersection. Trail crosses traffic merge lane then passes under Rt. 123 overpass. Turn left and climb away from the parkway and follow the turquoise blazes as the trail undulates through the woods below a residential subdivision. Parking - Fort Marcy. Emerge from the woods onto the paved parking lot at Fort Marcy Park. Section starts in the Fort Marcy Park parking lot. The PHT goes out of the back of the parking lot and descends steeply toward Pimmitt Run.
Cross Pimmitt Run on large stepping stones and turn left, following Pimmitt Run downstream. Bear left at Y junction. A short trail to the right provides access to a small parking area off Glebe Road. Pass under the Glebe Road Bridge. Turn right and ascend steeply up a set of stone stairs in the hillside. Veer to the left and walk up a bare-earth slope under the GW Memorial Parkway bridge.
Follow turquoise blazes along a scenic bluff high above the Potomac. Cross a small bridge and then reach a lookout over the river. Descend to the right, following several switchbacks to Gulf Branch. Turn left and descend a very step and rocky trail parallel to Gulf Branch as it drops toward the Potomac River.
Turn right and cross Gulf Branch on large boulders. Follow the turquoise blazes downstream as the trail climbs and descends across a major rock outcrop and reaches Donaldson Run. Cross a footbridge over Spout Run and follow the blazes parallel to the GW Parkway. Follow the trail behind a stone wall, emerge to follow the grassy verge along the parkway and cross under Key Bridge. Pass under the pedestrian and bicyling bridge leading up to Rosslyn and follow the paved sidewalk through the parking lot.