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The Northeast Branch Trail, Lake Artemesia Trail, and Paint Branch Trail combine to form an 8.3-mile segment of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System in Prince George’s County. Connecting in the south with both the Anacostia River Trail into Washington, D.C., and the Northwest Branch Trail into Silver Spring, Maryland, and in the north with the Little Paint Branch Trail into Laurel, Maryland, the trails represent a well-traveled section of off-road routes around College Park. They are also part of the Capital Trails Coalition, a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy TrailNation project that aims to develop an 800-mile trail network connecting the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan region.
The 3.5-mile Northeast Branch Trail follows the levee along—you guessed it—the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River. Starting in the south from Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Hyattsville, head northeast following the Northeast Branch about 2 miles to the popular Riverdale Community Park, which has playgrounds, ball fields, restrooms, and a water fountain. One mile north, a short spur to the left connects to a trail parking lot and access to Campus Drive, which leads to the College Park–U of MD Metro Station on Metro’s Green Line; access the station by heading west on Campus Drive for 0.3 mile and turning right onto River Road.
Back on the trail, you’ll travel north under Campus Drive and skirt the edge of the College Park Airport—the oldest continuously operating air-port in the world—which features an aviation museum. About 0.5 mile farther north lies scenic Lake Artemesia, which has taken on a de facto role in the area as a trail hub and a community meeting spot. It is named after local resident Artemesia Drefs, who donated the land in the 1970s to allow for the lake to be expanded and a nearby natural area to be pre-served. The lake is popular with birders and fishers and boasts a renovated ADA-accessible fishing pier. An approximately 1.3-mile paved trail circumnavigates the lake and is a favorite spot for daily walkers and bi-cyclists. The trail has many benches for sitting and relaxing, as well as a bathroom facility.
The 3.5-mile Paint Branch Trail originates at the southwestern end of Lake Artemesia, traveling underneath Metro’s Green Line tracks and through a forested area toward the University of Maryland. At the crossing of Baltimore Avenue/US 1, you can either cross at grade or take a tunnel underneath the busy road. The next 0.5 mile of trail travels through the eastern end of the University of Maryland campus, passing by the Clark School of Engineering and the Xfinity Center, where the storied men’s and women’s Big Ten basketball teams play. The trail also connects to commercial areas and high-rise student housing along Baltimore Avenue, and students can be seen rushing to and from class along the trail.
Traveling north along the Paint Branch Trail from the university, you’ll pass the College Park Dog Park and the Paint Branch Golf Complex before intersecting with the newly finished College Park Woods Connector, complete with a boardwalk highlighting species native to Maryland that can be seen from the trail with a keen eye. The Paint Branch Trail ends 1.5 miles farther north at the Cherry Hill Road Community Park on the north side of Cherry Hill Road. From there, you could continue northeast toward Laurel, Maryland, for about 1 mile on the Little Paint Branch Trail, which currently exists in two non-contiguous sections.
Parking is available in Hyattsville at Melrose Park (4700 Rhode Island Ave), in Riverdale there are two lots at the Riverdale Recreation Center (5400 Haig Dr), in Berwyn Heights by Lake Artemesia (55th Ave & Berwyn Rd) and a number of locations in College Park: Herbert W. Wells Ice Skating Center (5211 Campus Dr), College Park Community Center (5051 Pierce Ave), Acredale Community Park (4200 Metzerott Rd), and Cherry Hill Road Community Park (4620 Cherry Hill Rd).
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