Hiking north out of Riverbend in morning, it is possible to have the Potomac River entirely to yourself. There are few access points along the trail, which eliminates a lot of traffic, and makes this segment one of the quietest along the PHT in the Washington, D.C. area.
The hike begins at Great Falls visitor center. Or you can join the hike at a convenient place along the River Trail in the park (To begin this hike at the end point of the previous one, start at the boundary of Great Falls Park at Difficult Run). The hike follows the River Trail north into Riverbend Park, then bends west with the river on lands managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and Fairfax County Park Authority. In places, the trail uses private lands on which property owners allow public access to provide a continuous route for hikers; the best way to show your appreciation is to stay on the trail! In Loudoun County the trail passes through a golf course on an easement managed by the Regional Park Authority, then enters Algonkian Regional Park.
The trail remains in intimate contact with the river in what is, by and large, a leisurely hike. There are a few modest climbs over knobs and around streams.