Anacostia River Water Trail (Image courtesy: Chesapeake Bay Program)

Anacostia River Water Trail

Discover the natural abundance of the Anacostia River as it threads through the heart of Washington, DC. Watch birds on Kingman Island or dock at the National Arboretum and roam the forest. Paddle to Diamond Teague Park and catch a ball game or tie-up at Yards Park and explore new restaurants. The Anacostia River corridor has lots of options for outdoor fun and the Anacostia Water Trail can help you find them.

The trail covers a nine-mile stretch of the Anacostia River, running from Bladensburg, Maryland, through Washington, DC, to its juncture with the Potomac River about two miles south of Capitol Hill. Along this trail, the character of the river varies remarkably. Upstream you’ll find forests, wetlands, and wildlife that seem amazingly removed from the city. Downstream are hubs of riverfront recreation, with community parks, restaurants, and sporting events.

The Anacostia Water Trail offers a way to explore the river and its resources.  Its public access sites, programming, and orientation information is helping both residents and visitors find new adventures on the Anacostia and discover other treasures that have been there all along.


Dawn to dusk.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)




Long before the arrival of European explorers, the abundance of fish, game, and other natural resources along the Anacostia River drew a vibrant American Indian culture to its shores. In the 1600s, the Nacotchtank Indians — prosperous farmers, gathers, hunters, and traders — lived along the eastern shore of the river. Jesuit priests later Latinized the Algonquian place name of Nacotchtank to Anacostia. Englishman John Smith explored the Anacostia in 1608. His arrival heralded both the rapid settlement of the land east of the river by English landowners and the rapid decline of the Nacotchtanks.

The Anacostia has changed dramatically over the last 400 years – from a place of quiet natural abundance and American Indian settlements to a colonial seaport and bustling corridor in the nation’s capital. Water quality has suffered, but strong partnerships and community support are helping the river rebound. As development thrives along the southeast waterfront, interest in the river’s recreational potential has been renewed.


  • Paddling
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Native plant walks
  • Rowing
  • Environmental education programs
  • Bird-watching
  • Wildlife viewing

Water Trail Map & Guide

The Anacostia Water Trail map and guide has information on historic and cultural resources, access sites and other features associated with the Anacostia River. The trail covers a ten mile stretch of the River extending from Bladensburg, Maryland through Washington, DC to the Anacostia’s juncture with the Potomac River, about two miles south of Capitol Hill. Download a copy of the map and guide and learn more about recreational opportunities on the Anacostia River by visiting the Anacostia Watershed Society.


Various sites along the Anacostia Water Trail include: Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Dueling Creek, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, US National Arboretum, Kenilworth Park, Watts Branch, Kingman Island, Anacostia Park, Aquatic Resources Education Center, The Anacostia Community Boathouse, Yards Park, Diamond League Park, James Creek Marina, East Potomac Park, and Gangplank Marina. 


Leashed dogs allowed.

Main image: Anacostia River Water Trail (Image courtesy: Chesapeake Bay Program)
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