Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
The merit of an off-road trail can be assessed using various criteria: its connectivity, its functionality, its physical beauty, and its harmony with its surroundings. By all of these measures, the new spur of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which closes the gap between Benning Road and Bladensburg, Maryland, is magnificent. The extension provides both recreational and transportation access to communities immediately adjacent, but it’s also another piece in the much larger puzzle of regional connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians. Its proximity to both the Anacostia River and the Kenilworth wetlands exposes users to vast and underappreciated natural resources. And the trail’s occasional transition to an on-street protected bike lane hopefully presages a future of superior facilities for the non-motorized. No longer a missing link, this trail connection is poised to be so much more.