The Anacostia River is cleaning up its act, and every year brings new ways to enjoy this once-neglected body of water. My favorite: an easy 2.9-mile river loop that takes you along a segment of the peaceful Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.
For the simplest parking, start on the south side of the Anacostia, in the small lot on the riverbank below Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (also called South Capitol Street Bridge) or along Anacostia Drive. Walk east about a mile on the paved trail—keeping an eye out for ospreys, great blue herons, and beavers—then cross the new 11th Street Bridge, where you can take in the view from an observation platform. This is the future home of the elevated 11th Street Bridge Park, which will include fruit orchards, performance spaces, and playgrounds.
On the other side of the river, walk along the historic Washington Navy Yard, where you can see cannons and the decommissioned destroyer USS Barry before it’s removed in the coming months. Cruise the boardwalk through Yards Park, with its fountains and wooden benches, and detour to Ice Cream Jubilee (301 Water St., SE; 202-863-0727) or Bluejacket brewery (300 Tingey St., SE; 202-524-4862). Continuing over the footbridges toward Nationals Park, you can cap off a river tour by renting a kayak at Ballpark Boathouse (Potomac Ave. and First St., SE; 202-337-9642) before crossing back over the Douglass Bridge.
For more information and maps, visit the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Under “AWI Transportation Projects,” click on “Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.”
This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.