Marco Pieri: Paddle boarding DC

Paddle Boarding DC

Instagram Handle: @marco_p_13

Location: Georgetown Waterfront Park, DC

Board:  ISLE Explorer

Story:

I’m a big fan of paddle boarding in DC. You have a multitude of options along the Potomac or the Anacostia to put in, but my favorite involves a carefree paddle, with a great mix of nature and urban paddling.

The Route: Fletcher’s Boat House to Georgetown

Find a spot to park along the Georgetown Waterfront Park around right near the boat dock.  Gather your ISUP, cooler, sunscreen and pump and call a ride or shuttle with a friend over to Fletcher’s Cove Boathouse, which is about 3 miles upriver.  Fletcher’s Cove Boat House has a dock for rental’s, but there is a large park with a put in location at the far end of the park.

Pump up your board, strap in your gear, and make your way on the river!

This is a down river paddle, so it’s really low effort, and makes for a great cruise to view the scenery and enjoy the nature.

As you are making your way down, you’ll see nothing but trees and maybe a few fishermen for the first half of the paddle.  The Virginia side of the river has an elevation gain of a few hundred feet while the DC side is fairly gradual grade, so if you want more flow, paddle closer to the Virginia side.

After you paddle around the first big bend after about 15 – 30 minutes, you will start to see DC’s monuments, the Key Bridge, the Rosslyn skyline, and the Washington Monument.  You’ll most likely start to notice some other boats docked in the water, and maybe some kids jumping in and swimming.

About half way between the first big bend and the bridge, there is a group of rocks that pop up in the center of the river called the “Three Sisters” It gets shallower around these rocks, but they are a good spot to stop and hang for a bit.

After the three sisters, you can paddle underneath the 185ft tall Francis Scott Key Bridge, relishing in its immensity.  Be sure to holler underneath for some echoes.   In front of you is the Georgetown Waterfront, Teddy Roosevelt Island, The Kennedy Center, The Watergate Building, the Washington Monument, and more.  Once you are done enjoying the view, you can take out near the steps, or the boat dock right at Washington Harbor at Georgetown.  The park has a lot of good grassy spots to pack up your board, and maybe a bar to grab a beer after.

Pro Tips:

-Best time to go is when it hasn’t rained a lot in the days leading up to it. The river is much clearer and prettier, and the currents are much smoother. The Little Falls Gauge should be under 5’ when you go (around 4’).

-Bring a camera.

-Don’t forget your pump.

-Bring a life jacket.

-Bring some cash for the “Nauti Dogs” Pontoon Boat for a grilled dog around three sisters area on weekends.