9/8/09

The Alexandria, National, Anacostia (ANA) Loop

Anacostia is a historic region located east of the river it is named after. Following the construction of the Anascostia freeway and the postwar flight of whites to suburban areas, Anacostia underwent a transformation. From then on, the neighborhood changed into the predominantly black district it is now.

Although the crime rate in Anacostia has fallen from its peak in the 1990s, many Washingtonians still consider Anacostia "the most dangerous neighborhood in DC." But for bikers looking for an interesting bike route looping through Virginia, south Maryland, and DC, Anacostia's beauty cannot be overlooked.

(Part of Anacostia's renaissance was the revilitization of previously neglected housing, which turned many aspiring homeowners' dreams into reality. As a resident of Anacostia, I am a daily witness to the promise the up-and-coming neighborhood exudes and disappointedly, the bad rep it receives from other Washingtonians.)

Chapter 20: Living in the City

The following is the ONLY complete loop that goes through DC, MD and VA. There are scenic and serene places to stop for sightseeing and reflection along the way:



Southeast DC

  • The ride kicked off from the front steps of my house on Bruce Place, Congress Heights in SE DC.
  • A casual ride down Alabama Ave (passing the redeveloped Henson Ridge, the new Giant, IHOP)
  • Then Alabama meets Martin Luther King as we continue downhill down this historic street. On MLK day, Southeast hosts Washington's major MLK parade.
  • MLK merges into South Capitol St which takes us all the way to the border of DC and Prince George County, MD.

Southern Maryland
  • Once in MD, South Capitol turns into Indian Head Highway. You actually ride on the highway -- but relax, there's a wide lane off the highway where you can ride -- approx 5 minutes.
  • There's speeding traffic, but keep your head on a swivel, and you should do fine. (Recommend not riding this part during rush hour. Off peak and weekends are best)
  • Once you past 295, make a right onto Oxon Hill Road. Then take your immediate right onto National Ave.
  • The views of the Potomac at National Ave is utterly amazing.
  • At this point, you can veer left into National Harbor.
  • Or you can continue right over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
  • The Bridge is well laid out and spectacular with many spots that provides a great panoramic view.



National Harbor


Virginia

  • Once over the bridge, you pass the quaint St Mary's Cemetery, Then make a right onto Washington St.
  • If you like, you can hang a right onto Old Towne for lunch, snacks or ice cream.
  • Or enter the Mount Vernon Trail just prior to the National Airport.
  • You continue on the Trail until you ride under the 14th St Bridge.
  • This will bring you back to DC.
National Airport from Mount Vernon Trail


DC
  • In DC, ride through East Potomac Park
  • Then towards the Waterfront (if you like make a stop at the various fish markets.)
  • Once past the fish market, hug the shoreline as you ride along the sidwalk by the marina.
  • Near Ft McNair, make a left on O St towards National Park.
  • Then over the South Capitol St (Frederick Douglas) bridge.
  • Once over on Anacostia, stay on Howard Road.
  • Then hang a right on Martin Luther King Ave until you arrive at the top of the hill where Players Restaurant is located.
Summary
  • That's it -- the 17.3 mile loop around DC.
  • For anyone interested, you can start this loop almost anywhere in DC, MD and VA.
  • Plus it's relatively safe with broad streets and several metro stops along the route.
Let me know if you're interested in checking out this ride -- I might be willing to go with you.

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