Index to Kayaking In and Around Washington, DC

Always make sure to check in advance to make sure that the water level, tide and weather will make for a safe kayaking trip. Many of these kayaking destinations have actual personnel manning the phones and can give you specifics about their particular location. Bill and I also always check the internet to find real time information as well as the daily forecast. Be smart and be safe to you can live to kayak another day!

Bladensburg Waterfront Park
4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, MD 20710
Directions: From the Capital Beltway, take Kenilworth Avenue
(Rt. 201) south, and exit at Route 450 west/Bladensburg. Turn
left onto Route 450, go 300 feet and turn left into Bladensburg
Waterfront Park at the sign. This entrance is 500 feet east of the Peace Cross Memorial.
Park Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-5 pm
Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center: Daily, 10 am-4 pm
Phone: 301-779-0371; TTY 301-699-2544
GPS Coordinates: 38° 56' 00" N 76° 56' 19" W
Floating docks and free launch site is outstanding!

Anacostia River Trail

Benchmarks While Kayaking Down River

The Anacostia River Trail, at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, encompasses many kayaking benchmarks in the following order. You start at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Dueling Creek, Lower Beaverdam Creek, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Kenilworth Marsh, National Arboretum, PEPCO Power Generator, Kingman Lake, Anacostia Park Boat Ramp, Anacostia Park, Washigton Navy Yard, Hains Point and then into the Potomac River. You can go up river if you are a strong kayaker and have lunch or dinner in Georgetown. It is a long wa to paddle!

Bill and I really enjoy paddling here. We paddled to the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens which is about a 3 hour round trip paddle. In the month of July the Aquatic Gardens are in full bloom with the water lilies and lotus flowers sporting their blooms. It is breathtaking. There are other flora, as well. We saw many water birds such as blue herons and egrets. "Kenilworth Park is a site of Anacostia Park, a land use mosaic along the Anacostia River. It is a park of recreation fields, marshes, magnolia bogs, and landscaping. No where is this more obvious than at the northern end of the park. Like a time capsule from the past, one finds remnants of Washington's nature legacy here. Marsh plants that fed local civilizations for thousands of years survive, mink skitter on the islands in winter, and colorful summer butterflies fill the sun light and shadow with beauty. By preserving a part of the flood plain of the Anacostia River, Congress authorized a park that serves the public by filtering water, reducing flood damage, and preserving the biological and cultural resources that let us see from the past into the future."

Kenilworth Park Aquatic Gardens

Bill and I launched at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park and paddled to the Aquatic Gardens. However, there is a kayak launching area actually at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. However, know that it is quite a hike from the parking lot to a tiny launching site that you would miss if you did not know. If you decide to do this make sure to ask where it is and how to get to it before you start out with your kayak. Bill and I would suggest that you have a kayak attachment that allows the rolling of the kayak. We have those but decided to paddle down and back from Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

Aquatic Gardens/Washington, DC Aquatic Gardens/Washington, DC

Aquatic Gardens/Washington, DC Aquatic Gardens/Washington, DC

Aquatic Gardens/Washington, DC Aquatic Gardens/Washington, DC

"The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna once native to the region before urban sprawl took the surrounding land. Amphibians, birds, fish, and insects congregate in the marshland in numbers along with various plants and wildflowers. According to a species count by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, there were 650 species of insects, 150 species of land plants, 76 species of birds, 18 species of fish, 9 species of mammals, and 8 species of reptiles along with other organisms such as algae, lichens, mushrooms, and worms. The Audubon Society also does an annual bird count around December and the most recent count in 2007 came up with 59 different species of birds. All in all, 257 different species of birds have been sighted for all four seasons including herons, shorebirds, sparrows and a host of less commonly seen birds. Mammals sighted in the park include beavers, muskrats, minks, deer, foxes, and even coyotes. In addition, other wetland plants besides the lilies that thrive abundantly include wild rice and the all-season cattail. Unfortunately, many invasive species such as snakeheads have also been found in the ponds and marshland within the park." Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

There are a number of other destinations to paddle from Kenilworth Park. They include the Arboretum, Dualing Creek and Beaver Creek. The Arboretum has a small area where you can take your kayaks out of the water. Bring something to secure them as you have to walk in to see the Arboretum and must leave your kayaks. We have seen people secure their kayaks with a lock and then take their paddles with them. If there are two of you kayaking you can secure the kayaks together with a locking device. Dualing Creek has an entire history to enjoy. "Bladensburg Dueling Grounds is a small spit of land along Dueling Creek, formerly in the town of Bladensburg, Maryland, and now within the town of Colmar Manor, just to the northeast of Washington, D.C., United States. Dueling Creek, formerly known as Blood Run, is a tributary of the Anacostia River.

From 1808 the grove witnessed approximately fifty duels by gentlemen, military officers, and politicians, settling "affairs of honor". A formalized set of rules dealing with dueling etiquette referred to as a Code duello was usually enforced by the duelers and their seconds, even though dueling was illegal in the District of Columbia, and in most American states and territories.

Following the Civil War, dueling fell out of favor as a means of settling personal grievances and declined rapidly; the last known duel was fought here in 1868.

Notable Duels

There is not a great deal to see at Beaver Creek.

Visitors to the Bladensburg Waterfront Park will find a picturesque park in an urban setting. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. It is nestled among the Port Towns of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Edmonston and Cottage City, Maryland. It provides a unique recreational, natural and historical resource for visitors and residents. The park, formerly known as the Bladensburg Marina, is located on the Anacostia River, east of the Peace Cross Memorial. This Waterfront Park features a paved riverside walk, picnic pavilion, public fishing pier, free boat ramp, free pontoon boat tours, community boat storage, and canoe, kayak, paddleboat, and rowboat rentals. Visit the Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center or take a walk on the Anacostia River Trail.

In 1742 the town of Bladensburg was created on the banks of the Anacostia River. The river's depth at that time was approximately 40 feet. This port town was named after Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen. The town was a vibrant commercial port with wharves, taverns and stores. Some of the historic properties still exist: The George Washington House, a tavern during the 1700s and currently the headquarters for the Anacostia Watershed Society; Market Master's House; Bostwick House; Magruder House; and Free Hope Baptist Church. The success of Bladensburg as a port town during the 1700s was due largely to Christopher Lowndes-a merchant, and shipyard and ropewalk owner-who was the town commissioner for 40 years. By the 1800s the port town began to decline due to flooding and the silting of the river. In the 1850s tobacco shipping ended when the river became too shallow for seagoing vessels. Flooding remained a problem in Bladensburg until 1954 when the Army Corps of Engineers began a flood control and navigation project. This project involved straightening parts of the river, dredging, and the construction of levees, bridges, pumping stations and highways. In 1996 the old Bladensburg Marina began to be transformed. The waterfront was redeveloped with a new public boating facility, visitor center, waterfront walkway, historic interpretive panels, a picnic pavilion based on a ropewalk, playground, floating docks and parking. It was re-opened to the public in 2000. In 2005, a pedestrian bridge linking Bladensburg and Colmar Manor was completed, connecting hiker-biker trails on both sides of the river."

First posted: Aug 19, 2014
Last update: Jan 21, 2020