One with nature: Fall excursions you shouldn’t miss


Not many places have the ability to undergo each of the four seasons to the full extent, however in Virginia, the weather becomes cold and the leaves turn red as summer transforms into fall. There are many places for outdoor activities that let people enjoy the current season and connect with nature. Among those places, Great Falls Park and the Shenandoah National Park are two areas common for outdoor gatherings.

Great Falls Park is a half-hour drive from Arlington, and the road to get there is full of huge trees that display a myriad of colors, ranging from green and brown to orange and red. The falls rush over rocks and empty out into the great river, and a variety of outlooks offer breathtaking views.

The trails there can take you on the edge of the river along huge rocks or amongst the forest with bridges and creeks far from civilization, and you can also take a picnic to spend the day with friends in the designated areas. “We have great scenery, there’s a lot of history here, and we have the ruins of the old Potomac Canal,” Park Ranger Mike O’Neill said. “People come here to see the falls and then they learn something more about culture and history as well.”

On the other hand, the Shenandoah National Park is a two-hour drive from Arlington. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the trails, and there are a number of outlooks along the way. The trails there range from beginner to expert, and fall is the perfect time to enjoy the views and the cooler weather. “Connecting back to nature, to what it means to be a human being, is the best thing about hiking,” outdoor excursionist Charles Crowley said. Hiker Katie West seems to agree with Crowley, “The best thing, in general, is getting away from the city and being in nature.”

If you are looking to get away from the city for a while, or to connect with nature, activities like these may be something you might want to explore. They are easy excursions for a day and experiences you can share with friends and family. At the end of the day, you can feel the changes in you. West said, “It helps reset your soul.”