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The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is an important component of the transportation network in the nation's capital and a priority project under President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. The planned 28-mile trail, spanning both sides of the Anacostia River, will connect DC residents in 16 waterfront neighborhoods to their workplaces, schools, shopping, recreational amenities and the outdoors.
Currently, 15 miles of the trail have been completed, providing access to Diamond Teague Park, the historic Navy Yard, RFK Stadium, and Anacostia Park. The trail's newest section, through the beautiful Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, was completed in 2016 and connects to the Anacostia River Trail in Maryland, which is part of a regional network called the Anacostia Tributary Trail System.
Once fully completed, the trail will also be a popular tourist attraction, providing access to a number of national treasures, including the Tidal Basin (famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring), the National Arboretum, and the National Mall (gateway to the US Capitol, Smithsonian museums, the Washington Monument and other iconic landmarks).
One cautionary note: For the time being, the portion of the trail that goes from the Navy Yard to 11th Street SE will only be open during business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday).
Nearby Metro train stations provide convenient options to access the trail, as well as bike racks and bike-sharing. The closest Metro stations to the trail are the Navy Yard Station (200 M Street SE) on the Green Line and the Potomac Avenue Station (700 14th Street SE) on the Orange/Blue Lines.
For those who are driving, paid parking lots can be found around Yards Park (10 Water St SE) and Nationals Park (1500 South Capitol Street SE).
My wife and I wanted to find a fairly easy, scenic ride and that's what this was. We used public parking near the stadium, went to the water and headed North. It's easy to find the trail from there, but it's kind of weird riding on the sidewalks initially. After the first section you have a long, "walk the bike" section in front of Navy Yard.
After that the original trail is closed so you have to go left at ML King Ave, up to Water Street and the right to follow Water. The trail shares the road for a bit, but it has very little traffic.
We then rode up just past the DC United stadium. This has some nice shady areas and places to pull off. You can go up farther and cross the river, but we turned back and crossed at the Sousa bridge and went South on the other side. There are restrooms available in the Anacostia Fields section of the park. This part of the ride is very sunny.
We continued to the Frederick Douglas Bridge and crossed back over the the stadium. The trail maps don't show a connection, but if you come off the bridge and go right on Potomac Ave, you will be right back where we started.
We walked 3/4 of the trail with our dog and got a good workout. The bike/ped bridges are really nice with great views. Needs mile markers.
Today, 5 of us rode our Trikkes on this trail.
This trail has a variety of surfaces, terrain and views. Parts of this trail are lovely... others, not so much.
We parked at the Anacostia Recreation Center parking lot (38°52'24.3"N 76°58'54.3"W) where there were open port-a-potties. This was good, because after that we encountered no restroom facilities (except a set of port-a-potties that were locked).
Along the river, on the eastern edge, the trail has nice views of the river, the marina, and the path is smooth and of decent width.
Near the northeast side, the trail gets rough, with broken patches and grass growing in the cracks and in large patches in the center of the path as it passes through a park.
Heading south on the west side, we had to ride on the street, because the trail is narrow and over grown.
The riverwalk in front of the naval yard is absolutely beautiful, although no wheeled transportation may be used/ridden in that section. (I am really glad we didn't have any roller-bladers with us. They would have had to take them off and walk barefoot, or turned around and not completed the loop.)
The pedestrian sidewalk crossing the Frederick Douglas Bridge (South Capitol Street SW) is very narrow. If 2 people, walking their bikes encountered each other, they might not be able to pass.
If the path were consistently maintained, and if there was another place on the western side with bathrooms, this could be a 5-star trail.
I rode a loop from first and Q southeast, over the South Capitol Street Bridge, past the East Capitol Street Bridge on the east side, then back over the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge to the west side.
The ride is interesting, and will get better as the various parks are completed. And the bridge over the railroad tracks near East Capitol is both beautiful and interesting. But beware of the construction!!!
Right now (11/30/14), you cannot get to or past Benning Road going north on the east side. Moreover, while part of the barrier is marked, another branch is not. And as far as I can tell, once you go over the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge going west, there's no way to get back on the west side path until 11th Street. Riding through the neighborhood is fine--you just need to be prepared to do it.
On the other hand, previous bike bans at the Navy Yard and Yards Park have apparently been lifted. Do be aware at Yards Park, however, that some of the paths lead to stairs (down), and there's no warning. So go slow.
Another 2 or 3 years and this will be a fun way to see a part of the District most miss. But for now, it's
a tease for what will come--and a construction site.
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