Tag Archives: Anacostia River Trail

Bike the Anacostia River Trail to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (to see the big bloom!)

On the way to see the bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens


I always make a point of going to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this time of year to see the lotus flowers and water lilies in bloom. It’s absolutely stunning, and definitely my favorite of all the big blooms in the area (yep, I even love it more than the cherry blossoms). As I’ve noted before, that partly has to do with its location in Northeast DC, next to a residential neighborhood and not far from 295. You just don’t expect a fairyland of a park full of ponds covered in lily pads and with gorgeous white and pink flowers sprouting from them to be there.

This year, I decided to bike to KAG for the bloom. It’s not too far from where we live, about a five-mile ride from our house on Capitol Hill, and the Anacostia River Trail leads right to it. I’d never ridden on that stretch of the bike path, and it turned out to be a nice little jaunt. Owen and Sasha are away at camp for a couple of weeks, so this was a solo adventure, but I know they would enjoy it, too. I’d also recommend the ride for younger kids who are comfortable biking several miles at a time (accompanied by adults, of course).

The ride mapped out

The first stretch of the ride

I caught the trail at Benning Road, just past RFK Stadium, then rode along the Anacostia River for a scenic mile or so. That section ends at Lee Street, then you ride on the street for a bit until signs lead you back onto the trail that runs through the Mayfair and Eastland Gardens neighborhoods.

Following the path through a residential area

The turn into the Aquatic Gardens area

Another mile or so on that, and you come to the area of the trail that leads to the Aquatic Gardens. The paved path lined by black-eyed Susans (Maryland’s state flower, for a bit of trivia) and other wildflowers traverses a meadow before winding into the woods, the KAG marshland visible through breaks in the trees.

The trail flanked by wildflowers

There are a few small areas with benches where you can stop and take in the sights. I saw several great blue herons wading, turtles swimming, and what looked like many cardinals flying by. It’s lovely and peaceful, though the trail is somewhat isolated so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings.

Into the woods

Stop and sit for a bit

A heron sighting

Of course, this ride can be done anytime you want to visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The locale makes for a nice outing all year round, it’s just especially pretty now during the bloom. However, it does get hot and buggy during the summer, so a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant are recommended!


After crossing a couple of small bridges, there is a dirt path to the right that leads to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens entrance. Sign posts are at the trailhead so you can’t miss it. From there, it’s less than a quarter mile to the bike racks. Lock up, make your way to the ponds, and be ready to be dazzled.

A first look at the bloom

For more about Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, see this post. For more about the lotus flower and water lily bloom, see this one. And note that the annual festival celebrating them will take place July 13-14 this year, and it’s a fantastic event for families. In the meantime, here are more scenes from the ride and bloom — I can’t let photos that capture the beauty of it all go to waste!

From here to there and there to here…


Lotus flower close-up


Stop and take in the marsh views along the way


The plants from another perspective


Pinks!


A lily pad laden pond


Another view from below


A lotus beginning to open


Taking it all in from a footbridge


A pretty and peaceful part of the Anacostia River Trail



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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Nature, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Riverside Recreation at Bladensburg Waterfront Park

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On the recommendations of a couple of friends, our family visited Bladensburg Waterfront Park this past weekend. We didn’t know much about the park, except that it was located — as its name indicates — in Bladensburg, Md, on the Anacostia River. So, we packed some lunch and planned to picnic and do some hiking.

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I probably should have done a little more research before heading over because we realized upon our arrival that it’s not much of a hiking kind of place. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just not what we expected. Bladensburg Waterfront Park is actually about a quarter-mile stretch of paved area along the river with a few grassy sections, a small playground, a couple of gazebos, a picnic pavilion, some opportunities to learn about the history of the area, and a dock for a pontoon and rowboats and paddling vessels.

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You can rent boats there to explore the river, and apparently you can paddle to the National Arboretum. There was a rowing event going on while we were there, and it was somewhat busy around the boating area, so we kept our visit on land. Bikes are also available for rent, and the Anacostia River Trail runs right through the park for a pretty and easy cycling route alongside the water.

They also offer pontoon boat tours to visitors both during the week and on weekends, though times are limited. From April through October, 45-minute rides start at 12pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 5pm. Cost is $2 for PG County residents and $3 for non-residents.

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After taking a short walk across the steel bridge spanning the river, we picnicked in a gazebo, and the kids enjoyed the playground for awhile. Then we checked out the rest of the park, reading about the Battle of Bladensburg and the former dueling grounds, a 19th century army encampment, and the region’s prehistoric past within Dinosaur Alley.

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We also took a walk out on the small dock before heading over to an old train caboose that is open to climb aboard and explore. There’s also a Visitor Center with exhibits about the Battle of Bladensburg, but that was closed during our visit. Something to do next time along with some fun on the river.

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Bladensburg Waterfront Park is located at 4601 Annapolis Road in Bladensburg, Md. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and the Visitor Center is open 10am – 4pm. Admission is free.

Boat and bike rentals are by the day, both starting at $10. Visit the website for a complete list of rates.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend