Two major trails will be officially connected next Monday, better tying the District to Prince George's County and breaking through a very bike-hostile area. For more than a decade, the District has been slowly building the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ARWT), which currently runs from the Frederick Douglass Bridge north to Benning Road on both sides of the river, with an extension too the SW Waterfront and the 14th Street Bridge. It is represented by the yellow lines on the map below. It will eventually connect to the South Capitol Street Trail on the south, Buzzard Point on the west and to the Capitol via Virginia Avenue on the north (the green and yellow lines). The section through the SW Waterfront is currently under construction with that project.
Several years ago Maryland built the Anacostia Tributary Trail System (ATTS), which is a 24-mile-long network of six trails that connect several close in areas such as Silver Spring, Greenebelt, College Park, Bladensburg and Adelphi Park. The shortest of the trails was the Anacostia River Trail which extended about a mile from the confluence of the NE and NW branches to Colmar Manor Community Park. About a decade ago a bike/ped bridge was built across the Anacostia to the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, and in 2011 (as a Wilson Bridge environmental mitigation project) that was extended almost all the way to the New York Avenue Bridge.
The new trail is also named the Anacostia River Trail - making it more the DC extension of the Maryland trail than an extension of the Riverwalk Trail. It is represented by the pink and white line on the top map.
This trail is really a big deal.
Because of delays in building the full Prince George's County Connector trail between the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the NW Branch Trail, this is the only real trail connection between the ATTS and DC's trail network. The ARWT, in turns connects the ATTS to the future South Capitol Street, the Mt Vernon, the Rock Creek Park and the Capitol Crescent Trails. It really brings the trail into the regional network in a way that it hasn't been before.
It trims more than a mile from the trip between River Terrance and the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, compared to using Bladensburg Road and 1.5 miles compared to going via Cheverly. In fact from anywhere in DC east of the river or east of 15th street NE and south of Benning Road, it will be the new shortest route.
It will certainly become a commuter route. I used to bike to the ATTS from Capitol Hill via Blandesburg Road, but taking the new ART instead take almost exactly the same amount of time (if I use the Deane Avenue shortcut). Whilt it doesn't save any time, it is so much nicer than Bladensburg Road. Bike commuters can avoid the harmful car exhaust fumes and likely have a safer ride the whole way. The trail isn't lit, so commuters will need to bring bright lights and slow down in the winter (when it's also unlikely to be plowed), but even if it is only a fair-weather route, I expect it to get consistent commuter traffic.
It's also a really nice recrational trail. Though not officially open until Monday, I - and many others - have already been taking advantage of it. The south and north sections run along the river and the north section is particularly tranquil as it runs through the Kenilworth aquatic gardens before going underneath the Amtrak and New York Avenue bridges. I used to see wildlife on it every time I rode, before traffic picked up, and I suspect those riding at low traffic times still will.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, the newly-formed Capitol Trails Coalition will host Trick or Trail on Monday. Register here.
Groups of riders will be leaving from two locations in DC and Maryland on connecting trails to form a costumed caravan of cyclists for the official event at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. There will also be a popup pitstop with coffee and treats at Bladensburg Waterfront Park!
Popup Pitstop at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, 4601 Annapolis Rd, Bladensburg MD 20710: 7:30am - 9:15am
Bladensburg Waterfront Park Caravan: Meet at 8:30am, Leave for ribbon cutting at 9:15am.
DC Caravan: Meet at 9am, leave for ribbon cutting at 9:15am. Meet in the grassy area off the trail at the intersection of Benning Road and Oklahoma Ave. NE. The closest GPS address is 2615 Benning Rd. NE.
Ribbon Cutting at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC 20019: 10am