Turkey Run Park is located along the Potomac River, just off of George Washington Parkway in McLean, Virginia and contains over 700 acres of forested land. Those who visit the park can find shaded picnic areas and access to many miles of hiking trails, including the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Turkey Run Park is available to hikers year-round, from 6 AM to 10 PM, and has numerous trail options.
Each season brings its own sights, sounds, and wonders to the park. In the spring you will be able to see wildflowers, while the summertime brings the sounds of woodpeckers high in the trees. At the beginning of autumn, you will see the tree leaves starting to turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow.
Turkey Run Park can be accessed from the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It might behoove visitors to bring a printed version of the trail map along with them since the signs at the park are a bit faded. Soon after heading down the start of the trail, visitors will reach a fork. The path on the left leads you on the Turkey Run Trail which is about half a mile long and heads through upland forests. This trail is longer but is less steep than the right pathway. The pathway on the right will lead you down to the river via a steep dirt path with rough stone steps.
If you decide to take the pathway on the right, when you come to the bottom of the hill, you will reach the Potomac Heritage Trail, which follows the Potomac River in both directions for several miles. While the trail along the river is narrow and a bit rugged, it is mostly level, and you’ll get to enjoy a continuous view of the Potomac River. If bird watching is something that intrigues you, this is also an excellent opportunity to see the wide variety of birds that frequent the river, such as great blue herons, turkey vultures, hawks, and songbirds.
After about a mile you’ll see the River Flood Gauge and a trail that will take you back up the hill and through the park. The climb here is a lot easier because the trail is more open and less steep than the one you took on the way down to the river.
Dead Run is just west of Turkey Run Park and is considered to be one of the prettiest streams inside of the D.C. Beltway. Dead Run is at its peak during the springtime with several small pools and waterfalls as it flows into the Potomac River. Visitors can get spectacular views of the stream from a 3.8-mile loop along the Potomac Heritage Trail. If you decide to visit this trail in the spring, you will also have the opportunity to see the beautiful Virginia Blue Bells in bloom. This hike is great for those who would like a chance to take a break from city life and step into nature but don’t have a lot of time to get out.