By Angela Hazuda Meyers
This segment of the Anacostia River Trail is a wonderful 8 mile loop that starts on the East Bank Trail, heads south crosses the Frederick Douglas Bridge and the return brings you up the West Bank Trail and back across the Benning Road Bridge.
To start the hike, there is street parking at the intersection of Benning Road and Anacostia Ave near the Anacostia Recreation Center. The trail starts down along the river and is very well-marked. As you travel along the East Bank Trail heading south, you will be treated to original, hand-painted murals along the river bank. As you continue along the trail through Anacostia Park, the trail hugs the river for the majority of the trail, providing views of the Gangplank Mariana, the Washington Yacht Club, and the Navy Yards. There are very few turns along the trail, but each are well-marked with substantial signage, follow signs towards Frederick Douglas Bridge. The trail is minimally used, when you do encounter people along the trail, they are usually bikers. It is wonderful to have the solitude of exploring the trail on your own.
When you reach the end of the East Bank Trail, you will be at the entrance to the Frederick Douglas Bridge to the left. Take the trail to the left and then access the bridge by taking the high trail that goes up and over on the bridge, not under the bridge. As you cross the bridge you will be at the halfway point. Immediately across the bridge you’ll find a hidden oasis: Bardo Brewery. Invited to overtake the space and provide amenities to the nearby residents, Bardo went above and beyond simply occupying the space. They created a unique, artful, outdoor beer garden that can’t be missed, and it’s dog-friendly. Upon entering, you are immediately greeted by a car atop a shipping container and a Bardo sign – and it is this moment you know you found something special. Bardo Brewery has a long and varied history in the DC Metro. This newest incarnation showcases their agility and highlights their creative, funky side. There are new areas to explore around every corner, from being greeted by large than life art while visiting the loo, to the corn hole games under the shade of construction netting, to the use of reclaimed wood throughout the entire space. This construction space was thoughtfully redefined, providing an inviting, unpretentious, alluring and comfortable escape. Their amenities include a long list of tasty “guest-made” brews, rotating food vendors (often delicious BBQ and Pizza), waterfront tables, fenced dog park, outdoor entertainment including corn hole and music and it’s dog-friendly. My visit was all too short, but it shall be repeated. They are only open til the weather turns, so plan to soon and check their website for days and hours before your visit.
After this perfect pitstop, you can head out of the brewery by exiting through the fences along the water. This will take you past the new apartments and the new DC Sails kiosk along the waterfront. (**If you stay along the street, you will continue down the sidewalk, past Bardo and past the first apartment building, then take a right toward the water until you connect with the pier, where you will turn left onto the pier to continue the trail.)
Continuing along the pier will take you past the new construction of apartments, shops, restaurants and boat rentals. If you recall from our last issue, the Capitol SUP DC and the Yards Marina are dog-friendly. If you want to take a paddle this is a great time.
You are passing through the Navy Yards now, you’ll see the Nationals Stadium to your left, you’ll pass through some lovely landscaped gardens. These gardens are complete with lounge chairs, a shady canopy of trees, interesting plant life and are a great spot for a nice rest and water break. After rejuvenating, as you continue along the pier, you will find you are now permitted to pass along the front of the navy facility and continue out the north side (this was previously not possible), so stay on this trail and continue north along the water through the various sets of gates. You will hug the water, passing the Washington Yacht club and the District Yacht Club. The trail will connect with the road for about 1/2 mile, when it returns to the trail you will head towards a bridge shortly afterwards, as you pass under the bridge you want to take the dark red wooden bridge to your right that escalates over the water, but not across the water. This trail will keep you on the west bank trail. You will continue along with trail hugging the water for another mileish, then you will pass RFK Stadium. After another ½ mile, you will also pass the entrances for Heritage and Kingman islands (see the next issue for detailed hike notes for Heritage and Kingman Islands). The segment after the Navy Yards through here is secluded, you will pass very few people on the trail. Stay on the trail following it until you are able to access the bridge to take you across Benning Road. You will turn right to cross Benning Road bridge and immediately you will be at the intersection of Benning Road and Anacostia Ave. You’ll turn right on Anacostia Ave straight back to your car.
About Your Guide
Angela Meyers is the owner of both NOVADog Magazine and a lovely pup named Maggie.
Distance: 8 mile loop, remove the gravel trails
Best time to go: Anytime, if you want to enjoy a few hours at Bardo, plan to leave the trailhead by 10AM.
Access: Street parking (free) at the intersection of Benning Road and Anacostia Ave.
Rated: 1 Paw. The trail is easy and flat, it is a bit long, but with a nice break at the halfway point it is still a very doable and relaxing walk.