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Greenbelters Biking the Anacostia River Trail

posted in: Sports/Recreation


Greenbelters are discovering and even commuting to work via the bike path from Bladensburg Waterfront Park into D.C. or farther south along the river, thanks to the section south of Bladensburg that opened in October of 2016. It’s the much-anticipated completion of the Anacostia River Tributary System of trails. And it’s beautiful!

Info and maps

Former Governor Martin OMalley riding on the boardwalks south of Bladensburg.

Starting in Old Greenbelt

What’s new and commute-changing for some bike-loving Greenbelters is that they can now commute by bike all the way into DC without having to navigate through traffic. They can begin the trip from Old Greenbelt, or drive a bit, park and ride from there. Here are some options.

From Old Greenbelt, a new trail segment that opened just last month means riders can now reach the trail at Lake Artemesia safely, with no riding along main streets.

  • Starting in Roosevelt Center, take Crescent Rd to Kenilworth Ave. Cross at light to MDOT driveway, then turn right on paved walking path; follow up the hill, pass Old Line Bank on right, to T at Ivy Lane.
  • Turn left on Ivy Lane (good bike lanes) and follow to tee at Cherrywood Lane.
  • Turn left on Cherrywood and follow over Beltway, past Metro station, past Franklin Park Apts., to stop sign at Breezewood Dr.
  • Turn right onto paved path into wetland, veer left at first fork, then turn left at T on wooden bridge. Follow path to end at Branchville Rd. Turn left and follow Branchville Rd., which becomes Ballew Ave., to Lake Artemisia parking area.



Left: looking upriver on the Anacostia River. Right: looking southward on the trail under the AMTRAK bridge.


South from Lake Artemesia

Some Greenbelters begin their journey by driving to Lake Artemesia, leaving their car in the lot there. Whether starting there or continuing south from there:

  • From Lake Artemesia, cyclists take the Indian Creek Trail to the Northeast Branch, which then joins the main stem at the top left corner.
  • From there, they cross the pedestrian bridge into Bladensburg Waterfront Park and cycle through the park to get on to this new segment of the trail.


South from Bladensburg Waterfront Park

Other Greenbelters drive to Bladensburg Waterfront Park, park their car, and begin the trail ride there. If you DO drive to this park, it’s safer to take the BW Parkway than Kenilworth Avenue, in order to avoid a scary left turn onto Route 450 from Kenilworth Ave.

Riding south from Bladensburg:


  • At the number 8 mark the trail enters the neighborhood, just at the point where the trail also branches to the Marvin Gaye Trail. Some riders prefer riding on Deane Avenue through the park, reconnecting south of the number 9. However, that is an unmarked, roughly paved route through an area without lighting or security. It is an access road, not a trail. Some prefer it because it’s quicker and avoids the neighborhood streets and sidewalks.
  • From there, the rider can choose between the East or West Bank Trail. East is nice until you have to cross Frederick Douglass Bridge. West is nice unless the Navy Yard has closed off the access, which can happen randomly.

Commuting into DC

Tom LeaMond is one Old Greenbelter who commutes along the trail to his job in downtown DC, and writes:

I start my ride in Hyattsville and I ride 10 miles into DC (14th and F Streets) and 10 miles back (20 miles round trip). I cross from the Anacostia River Trail into DC on the Benning Road Bridge, right before RFK Stadium. I ride through the RFK Stadium parking lot and then I take D ST. NE to Union Station, and then E Street to 14th.
I really like the ride in the morning because it gives me time to reflect (it is meditative) and transition to work, I see lots of wildlife, and I am fully energized when I get to work. In the evening it is nice because the last six miles along the Anacostia trail help me transition from work to home.


Riding for Fun

Greenbelters NOT on their way to work in the city can continue southward along the Anacostia to, for example, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. (A nice alternative to getting there via the stress-inducing Route 295).


No Bike? No Worries! They Rent

Bladensburg Waterfront Park rents a nice assortment of bikes, for $10 an hour (for county residents), helmet and lock included. Available 9-4, year-round. I chose the 12-speed cruiser and found the gears super-easy to operate. More rental information here.


To help riders passing Blandensburg Waterfront Park on the new section of the trail, the parks authority installed two handy features, inches from the trail and from the bathrooms – a Hydration Station and (in dayglo green), a Dero Fixit Repair Station.

Free for Seniors – Who Knew?

On Mondays in May through September, all equipment rentals (bikes and boats) are free at Bladensburg Waterfront Park for residents 60 and up. (Good to know, since $10/hour and no day rate is kinda pricey for a bike rental.) The park makes no mention of this on its website or brochure but thankfully Steve Skolnik knew about it and let me know. What Steve didn’t know, despite his many trips to the park, is that they rent bikes. And no wonder –  the park’s sign about rentals makes no mention of bikes, just boats. And the bikes are stored out of sight.

Thanks to those who contributed to this article: Aaron Marcavitch for Maryland Milestones. Avid cyclists Steve Skolnik and Tom LeaMond.

Photo credits: Top and collage photos by Aaron Marcavitch. O’Malley photo by State of Maryland. Other photos by the author.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

2 Responses

  1. Susan Harris
    | Reply

    Hydration station in blue, repair station in green.

  2. Jeff
    | Reply

    That is the bluest day-glo green I’ve ever seen. 🙂

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