At a Glance

Hours: Grounds: sunrise to sunset (daily). You may park near the gate & walk in if the gate is still locked in the morning. The gate is locked at posted closing time – be sure to leave before then. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Weekends can be very busy, even in winter.

Best Seasons: Spring and Fall migration; early summer.

Local MOS Chapters: Patuxent Bird Club

Bladensburg Waterfront Park & Anacostia River Trail

4601 Annapolis Rd, Bladensburg, MD 20710
(301) 779-0371

Bladensburg Waterfront Park, a property of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (the Parks and Recreation Department for Prince George’s County), is located on the east bank of the Anacostia River in the historic town of Bladensburg.  In colonial times, Bladensburg was a major international port, until siltation rendered the river unnavigable by large craft by the mid-1800s. To this day, periodic dredging is necessary to keep the river open to even small craft. The dredged material is piped to ponds on the west side of the river.

At the Waterfront Park, there is an outstanding water viewing area from a raised bank along the river.  The Anacostia is tidal at this point, and so there may be mud flats visible at low tide, offering feeding and resting habitat for gulls, terns, and shorebirds; a tide table is useful for timing your visit. From the main part of Bladensburg Waterfront Park, you can walk south along the newly completed Anacostia River Trail, a paved hiker-biker trail that connects with an extensive trail system in Washington, DC, whose border is just a mile or so away. Or, from Bladensburg Waterfront Park you can walk across the prominent footbridge to explore the west side of the river, where Colmar Manor Community Park offers more hiking trails. A portion of Colmar Manor Community Park has been designated as the Dueling Creek Natural Area.  This part of the park was historically the site of duels and many deaths occurred here. Today, the 60-acre Colmar Manor Community Park is home to beavers, bluebirds, ducks, herons, and turtles and includes wetland ponds, fields, and forested lowlands.

Amenities at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park include canoe, kayak, bike, and trike rentals; paddle boat, rowboat, and fishing rod rentals; interpretive pontoon boat tours on the river; Battle of Bladensburg Visitors Center; picnic pavilions; a fishing pier; boat ramp and canoe/kayak launch; a playground, and restrooms.

Birdlife:

Over 165 species have been reported on eBird from Bladensburg Waterfront Park.  Breeding birds include Bald Eagle, Osprey, Wood Duck, Green Heron, and Black-crowned Night-heron, Warbling Vireo, and Yellow Warbler. Warm month visitors include a few shorebirds and terns including Least Tern.  Sparrows may be found in migration and during the winter in Colmar Manor Community Park and along the Anacostia River Trail south toward Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  During the winter of 2017-18, a Harris’s Sparrow took up residence along the river south of the Waterfront Park and was seen by hundreds of birders from throughout Maryland and the region.  Bladensburg Waterfront Park is also known as a good place to see gulls in the winter.

Parking:

Ample paved parking, almost the entire length of the Waterfront Park.

Special Features:

The Anacostia River Trail is wheelchair-accessible, as are some of the other features at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. ◾ Kayaks and canoe rentals are available on site at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. ◾ The park houses the Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center, near the site of the battle that occurred in 1814. The devastating American loss allowed the British to proceed into Washington, DC, where many government buildings were burned including the U.S. Capitol and The White House. ◾ The Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center and the Waterfront Park are part of The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. The visitor center uses photos, artifacts and other media to tell the story of the war in Prince George’s County. ◾ Via the Anacostia River Trail, Bladensburg Waterfront Park is within walking distance of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, on the edge of DC (See trail map). ◾ Check out the good work being done by the Anacostia Watershed Society, a non-profit organization that conducts hands-on water and habitat restoration projects, public education, and nature programs. You can stop in for one of the events shown on their calendar. ◾ Bladensburg Waterfront Park is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Patuxent Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.

Directions:

From points east in Maryland: take US Route 50 west toward DC. Exit at MD Route 202/Landover Road west toward Bladensburg. In 1.5 miles, bear left onto MD Route 450 Annapolis Road westbound. Route 450 will bring you directly into the town of Bladensburg. Immediately after passing under the highway overpass for MD 201 and another for a railroad track, make a left into the park entrance. If you arrive at a traffic circle at the prominent Peace Cross monument, you’ve gone a little too far. Simply go around the circle to return to MD Route 450 in the other direction and enter the park, now on your right. ◾ From downtown Washington, DC: take US Route 1/Rhode Island Avenue northwest toward Mount Rainier and Bladensburg. In Mount Rainier, turn right onto MD Route 208/38th Street. Go 0.3 miles and turn left onto Bladensburg Road (also signed as US Route 1). Immediately after crossing the bridge over the Anacostia River near the Peace Cross, bear right to go onto MD Route 450/Annapolis Road eastbound. The park entrance is ahead in just 0.2 miles from the bridge, on the right (south) side of the road. ◾ From Montgomery County and other points in Maryland north and west of DC, get onto the I-495/Capital Beltway toward College Park. Take Exit 22B for the Baltimore-Washington Parkway southbound. In 4.0 miles, take the exit for MD Route 450/Annapolis Road westbound toward Bladensburg. The entrance to the park will be on the left (south side of road) in 1.3 miles, immediately after passing under the highway overpass for MD Route 201 and another for a railroad track.

Nearby Sites:

National Arboretum; Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens; Anacostia Park.

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ParkLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseReclaimed Industrial Site Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchBoat RentalsFishingHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesLake, Pond, Bay, River, OceanNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature CenterObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkCommunity and Urban ParksHiker-Biker Trails (Paved)Historical SitesThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails