Escapes: Wet on the river

D.C. might not be an outdoorsman’s paradise, but this big city has more to offer than concrete jungles and asphalt gardens. The nation’s capital is actually an extremely outdoor-friendly city, with miles of trails, parks and waterways. So, interested in crossing a stream rather than 23rd Street? Or want to ditch the cab for a bike? Here is the second in a series of stories profiling some of D.C.’s accessible and appealing outdoor adventures.

It’s no surprise that a lot of people might have some hesitations about jumping into the Potomac River. It has lots of foul and floating

things. The river, however, is usually calm and well-suited for some amateur paddling.

The Thompson Boat Center, at the intersection of Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Avenue (only a few blocks from the Hall on Virginia Avenue), rents canoes, kayaks and rowing punts for relatively good prices.

Canoes and single kayaks cost $8 per hour to rent and double kayaks are a little pricier at $10 per hour. Daily rates for all of the boats are around $25 per day. Boats can be rented at the hourly or daily rates starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. While boats must be returned by 6 p.m., there is still plenty of time to explore the bottom of Rock Creek, Theodore Roosevelt Island and still spend some time just paddling around.

On my most recent excursion my friends and I made our way to the remains of an old bridge that once ran over the Potomac. The low aqueduct bridge remains only as a rough, stubby pillar emerging from the river in the shadow of the Key Bridge. My three friends and I had already had a picnic on Roosevelt Island, so we decided to try to climb the stub of a peak.

With life jackets on, of course, three of us managed to scramble up and down. But, my last friend wasn’t so successful. She slipped trying to get out of the canoe and we all tipped over. I really shouldn’t recommend tipping over, since the Potomac is not for swimming, but it is lots of fun.

So, when you go on an excursion of the Potomac, take a picnic, watch for some nice views and don’t be afraid to get a little wet.

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