Recreation and Access

Recreation is growing on the Anacostia. A group of 9 kayaks in the water a the sun set, with an eight person racing scull in the background

With improving water quality and infrastructure along the river, the Anacostia has become a water recreation hot spot in the DMV.

From boating to fishing, the Anacostia is a recreation destination for DMV residents and visitors. However, due to a history of environmental injustices along the river, access to the Anacostia has often been restricted or even physically closed off to some of its communities.

At Anacostia Riverkeeper, we believe the Anacostia is a shared resource that should be open to and enjoyed by all. This is why we advocate so hard to build equitable access along the Anacostia. We work to open more river access points, offer free on-river recreation programs like Friday Night Fishing, and encourage all residents and visitors to join us on free boat tours and kayaking adventures on the river.

Ways to Enjoy the Anacostia

Fishing

The Anacostia has been a sought after site for anglers ever since the Nacotchtank people were pulling Shad out of the river by the basketful. Today, the Anacostia supports many different species of game fish from catfish and striped bass to the District’s state fish, the American Shad. The Northwest Branch tributary even supports Golden Trout! Unfortunately, due to contaminants from past misuse of the River, there is a fish consumption advisory for fish caught in the District. Thankfully, cleanup efforts are ongoing to make the Anacostia fully fishable once more for catch-and-release fishing and subsistence fishing.

Catch-and-release fishing offers the trill of catching a fish while giving the fish population a chance to grow.

Boating

The Anacostia is a prime destination for boaters. Kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, or small motor boats can experience almost the whole length of the mainstem Anacostia depending on the size of the vessel. With more access points like docks and marinas being built each year, the potential for exploring the little-known portions of the Anacostia has never been greater!

Anacostia Riverkeeper connects people to the river through boat tours to various sections of the river. Pictured here is the Riverkeeper boat loading passengers at the dock before heading out on the river.

Biking and Hiking

Did you know there is a 20-mile continuous hiking and biking trail on both sides of the mainstem Anacostia? The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is just one in a series of biking and walking trails that criss-cross the watershed and allow for visitors to see all parts of it. Bike from Navy Yard to Bladensburg along the Riverwalk Trail. Explore the history of the Underground Railroad in the watershed via the Underground Railroad Experience Trail along the Northwest Branch. See the link below for a map of all trails across the watershed!

Wildlife Viewing

Despite its urban environment, the Anacostia is one of the best locations in the mid-Atlantic for wildlife viewing, especially when it comes to birds. It was often said that naturalists from across the globe would descend upon the nation’s capital and the Anacostia for the sole reason of viewing the abundant wildlife along the river. Grab some binoculars and scan the skies for osprey or bald eagles, or even join a free boat tour up the river to get a glance at deer, fox, and maybe even an otter or two.  

Nesting bald eagle pair on a platform overlooking the Anacostia
Sunset over the Anacostia near Nats Stadium with a lone kayak floating peacefully in the water.
A woman in a lifejacket with outspread arms exuberantly enjoying the boat ride on the Anacostia.

What is equitable river access?

Access to the Anacostia has not always been simple for community members who call the watershed their home. Many District and Maryland neighborhoods used to have direct access to the river. However, that access has been completely removed in some places due to highways and other infrastructure, and development along the shoreline.

Not surprisingly, these neighborhoods were not part of the planning process during redevelopment along the river. In fact, many saw river access points like docks and marinas relocated from their communities or on the opposite bank of the river from them.

We at Anacostia Riverkeeper believe that our shared natural resources should be exactly that—shared, and open to all who wish to enjoy them. Equitable river access underpins and influences everything we do as an organization. And we will always work to ensure that it’s a top priority when decisions are being made about our river.

THE Seafarers Yacht Club is an historic club that gave Anacostia neighborhoods access to the River for boating and fishing.

River Recreation Resources

Anacostia River Explorers Boat Tours

Friday Night Fishing Program

Current Anacostia Water Quality

Anacostia Tributary Trail Map

River Access and Dock Map

Fishing Locations Map