If you are seeking a place to drink alcohol, swim or wade in the water, or climb on rocks, Scotts Run Nature Preserve in McLean is not the place.
The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) will be working collaboratively with the Fairfax County Police Department to ensure only permitted activities take place in this natural area, that people can recreate safely and that rules regarding alcohol and use of the preserve are observed.
Starting Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement and FCPA staff will be enforcing these rules:
• No coolers are allowed. No alcohol or glass bottles are permitted in Scott’s Run. Bags will be checked at parking-lot trailheads.
Enforcement will be stepped up at the waterfall area. The beauty of the falls masks its peril, FCPA officials said. This area is subject to dangerous currents and submerged rocks can combine with those currents to make entering the water a deadly decision. Rain upstream can raise water levels astonishingly quickly.
• No swimming, wading or boating allowed at Scotts Run. Crowds in the water threaten the many invertebrates and the remarkable and rare plant species that call the preserve home.
• Parking is limited to 50 cars in the designated parking areas. No parking is permitted in adjacent neighborhoods or along the roadway leading to the park.
• Dogs must be on a leash while in the park.
Fairfax County Park Authority has 420 parks available for recreational use, but swimming is limited to pools and RECenters. Police will enforce all applicable laws. Park Authority employees and authorized volunteer staff have been trained and are obligated to enforce these rules and regulations.
Park users who fail to abide by these rules may be ejected from the park immediately and prohibited from future use of park property, facilities or services.
Park Authority officials are trying to avoid the kinds of antics that occurred at the park two years ago when the pandemic just had begun and the public had few recreation options. Scotts Run Nature Preserve ended up hosting about 3,000 per day during this period, or about 10 times more than the park was designed for, FCPA leaders said.
Youths in bathing suits whooped it up and swigged alcohol at the park’s scenic waterfall, while other patrons spray painted graffiti, hung up rope swings and deposited copious litter. Some park users parked illegally along Georgetown Pike, prompting safety concerns because of the lack of sidewalks there for pedestrians.
Authorities began stationing more police at the park and adding no-parking zones outside its entrances to improve safety and protect nearby residents.
Scotts Run Nature Preserve, located at 7400 Georgetown Pike, is a “fantastic natural resource to be enjoyed by those looking for a quiet place to enjoy a hike; to gaze at the waterfall and streams, as well as the shoreline of the Potomac River; and to take in the rich abundance of local fauna, woodland creatures and natural resources,” FCPA officials said.
For more information about the park offerings and regulations, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/scotts-run.