A new four-mile trail just opened along the east bank of the Anacostia River. It joins two trails that were already there to create one big, continuous path that runs from where the Anacostia meets the Potomac to a number of places well into Maryland.


The new segment of the Anacostia River Trail provides stunning views of the river. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

The trail situation along the Anacostia can be a little tough to follow. In Maryland, there’s the Anacostia River Trail, which runs for two miles through Bladensburg. It’s the southern tip of the the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, a network of a half-dozen connected trails (more than 25 miles worth) that extend into Wheaton, Adelphi, and College Park.

In DC, there’s the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which is actually two trails along both sides of the Anacostia in DC, running between Benning Road and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge with numerous connections to neighborhoods on each side of the river.

And until now, there’s been a gap in the trail between these networks. What recently opened is a new trail, shown in green below, that bridges this gap and makes one seamless 40-plus mile trail system throughout the Anacostia watershed.


The Anacostia Tributary Trail System. The green portion is the new part of the Anacostia River Trail.

The new segment will be officially called part of the Anacostia River Trail. It weaves through the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and connects to DC’s Mayfair and Eastland Gardens neighborhoods. DDOT’s Anacostia Waterfront Initiative team built the segment over the course of two years.

DDOT plans to construct a more direct route through the Kenilworth area, which would provide a more direct trip along the river and a new bridge connecting to the National Arboretum. But this proposal faces an uncertain future, largely due to the fact that the National Park Service needs to clean up the land the route is supposed to run through, as it used to be a hazardous waste dump.

The new trail sure is gorgeous

While the trail had its official grand opening on Monday, it’s been open for use on recent weekends and I was able to check it out.

Starting at Benning Road NE at Anacostia Ave NE, a short ramp curls around to a new underpass of Benning Road. After a short stint along the river, the trail enters the Mayfair neighborhood, using a designated sidewalk section to pass along Thomas Elementary School.


The new segment starts with an underpass of Benning Road and the metro tracks. View looking south.

Users then loop around Mayfair Mansions using a curb-protected cyclepath until a new bridge crossing the Watts Branch and entering Kenilworth Park.


Curb-protected Hayes-Jay Street bikeway around Mayfair Mansions, one of the first portions of the new segment to be constructed.

The next three miles of uninterrupted trail through the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens offers an array of woodland, meadow, and wetland scenes that are among the best scenery of any trail in the region.

The heavily wooded section adjacent to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens provides ample shade and benches alongside the trail allow a chance to rest with views of the Gardens’ wetlands


Wetlands at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens from the trail.

An extensive concrete boardwalk offers panoramic views of the river. You can also see Amtrak and MARC trains where the Northeast Corridor crosses the Anacostia.


The trail where Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor crosses the Anacostia River.

Also, meadow and wetlands line large portions of the trail between the DC-MD border and Bladensburg Waterfront Park.


Several meadow areas are visible from the Anacostia River Trail in Maryland.

The newly unified trail network through the Anacostia watershed should provide recreation and enjoyment for years to come. And now, you can get out and enjoy it today!