Oxon Run Parkway is a 126-acre federal parkland adjoining the Ward 8 neighborhoods of Congress Heights, Shipley Terrace, and Washington Highlands as well as the Maryland state line. It covers the broad stream bed and flood plain of Oxon Run, the only stream in Ward 8 to flow into the Potomac River rather than the Anacostia. Winding channels, extensive sandbars, islands and deep pools make this little river endlessly interesting.
Like adjacent Oxon Hill, Maryland, the stream got its name because the area reminded early English colonists of Oxford, England, hence the unusual spelling.
Near Southern Avenue (and the Metro station of the same name) is a pristine upland forest of beech trees and mountain laurel. A stream running downhill doesn’t quite make it to Oxon Run, draining instead into a rare ecosystem known as a magnolia bog, where the forest floor is covered in delicate ferns.
Once part of the Camp Simms military reservation, these woods also conceal the ghostly remains of a World War II-era shooting range. On the parkway’s borders are United Medical Center and THEARC, a focal point for youth programs in Ward 8.
West of 13th Street is Oxon Run Park, a larger landscaped area that includes fields, picnic areas, sport facilities and a recently rebuilt bike trail. This park, distinct from Oxon Run Parkway, is maintained by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.
Although the geography of Oxon Run Parkway has protected it from illegal dumping on the scale found in other wooded areas in Ward 8, littering along Mississippi Avenue and Southern Avenues is a persistent problem. The swift current of the stream carries litter from its source in Landover, Maryland and points in between. Much of this trash gets up caught in the natural dams that form around fallen trees.
We envision Oxon Run Parkway as a place for hiking, running, contemplation, and environmental education, complete with well-marked trails and organized activities.