We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Monday’s not-so-surprising flooding on the Georgetown waterfront, among other areas of the Potomac River, is a good reminder that although we Washingtonians live in an incredibly planned and built environment, Mother Nature can still pack a punch. Seasonal flooding has been going on for eons, which has helped carve one of the region’s most spectacular natural environments: the Potomac’s gorge between Georgetown and Great Falls.

The pictures you see here were taken in the District’s far western corner, near Chain Bridge, on March 18 of last year, a couple days after the river gorge flooded. It’s an area that I’ve explored extensively over the years, a conveniently situated wilderness below the bluffs where I used to live, overlooking Chain Bridge and the gorge.

If you hike in this area between the river’s channel at Little Falls and the C&O Canal in the next few days, you should expect to see boulders, logs, and other material that’s been washed downstream over the years, sitting amid a complex network of pools and rivulets. You’ll also see a fresh layer of silt. And if you get the timing right, you’ll see a brilliant green carpet of new life sprouting.

If you make return visits, you’ll see how this natural wonder changes over the seasons. It’s too bad more people don’t even know it’s there.

Photos by Michael E. Grass