None of it would be possible without the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, a path that’s beckoning cyclists, joggers and strollers to wind their way along both sides of the river. The D.C. Department of Transportation has opened 12 miles of the 20-mile project, and work is about to begin on the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment, a four-mile stretch that will connect Benning Road to Maryland’s Bladensburg Trail. That’s likely to be the most scenic part of the route and the most significant: It will link the D.C. trail to more than 40 miles of trails in Maryland.
On the water
As folks are finally finding their way to the river, they’re learning that it’s pretty easy to get on it, too. Single sculls, racing shells and dragon boats have been plying the waters from the Anacostia Community Boathouse for two decades. That facility, which regularly hosts more than 1,000 athletes involved in rowing teams and clubs, is maxing out its capacity.
So other docks are popping up to help meet the demand for watersports — and make them more readily available to casual users. “We’re public access to the water,” says Nicholas Verrochi, manager of the Ball Park Boathouse, which became the District’s first kayak rental concession on the Anacostia when it opened July 20. “It’s a different side of the city and an up-and-coming area.”
Bladensburg Waterfront Park, an already well-equipped facility across the border in Maryland, just opened a wheelchair-accessible boat launch. The National Park Service has purchased a dock that’s almost ready to be installed at Kenilworth Park, and a few additional spots could offer access soon, says Cain, who has been busy preparing a map of the Anacostia Water Trail.
“This will show you where you can access it and experience it,” Cain says of his guide, set to publish by the end of the month. “The point is to drive usage.”
One place Cain would like to see another boat option is in the 11th Street Bridge Park, a project being run by the D.C. Office of Planning and set to be finished 2017. With the city building a new $390 million bridge between Capitol Hill and Anacostia Park, set to be completed in 2015, the old structure will be left behind.
“So this is an opportunity to rethink how we reuse this architecture,” says Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park project. The idea is to build a linear park — something akin to New York’s High Line — that will incorporate active recreation, environmental education and the arts. A bunch of ideas are being explored, including a ropes course, rock-climbing walls and ziplines.