Oxon Run Parkway consists of 126 acres of Federal parkland adjoining the Ward 8 neighborhoods of Congress Heights, Shipley Terrace, and Washington Highlands, and the Maryland state line. It encompasses the broad stream bed and flood plain of Oxon Run, the only Ward 8 stream that flows into the Potomac River rather than the Anacostia. Winding channels, extensive sandbars, islands and deep pools make this little river endlessly interesting.
The stream’s name, like that of nearby Oxon Hill, Maryland, refers not to plow animals but to Oxford, England, to which early English colonists saw a resemblance
Parallel to Southern Avenue (and the Metro station of the same name) is a pristine upland forest of white oaks and mountain laurel. A stream running downhill from there drains 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. More recent human structures, on the parkway’s borders, are United Medical Center and THEARC, a focal point for youth programs in Ward 8.
West of 13th Street, landscaped Oxon Run Park encompasses fields, picnic areas, sport facilities and a recently rebuilt bike trail. This park, distinct from Federally managed Oxon Run Parkway, is maintained by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.
Oxon Run Parkway’s geography has protected it, fortunately, from illegal dumping on the scale seen in other wooded areas in Ward 8, yet littering along Mississippi Avenue and Southern Avenues remains a problem. Oxon Run’s swift current begins sweeping up litter at its source in Landover, Maryland, and continues along its way. The trash collects in natural dams that form around fallen trees in the stream’s course. The garbage that passes through flows out into the Potomac Much of this trash gets up caught in the natural dams that form around fallen trees.
We envision a cleaner future for Oxon Run Parkway, as a sanctuary for hiking, running, contemplation, and environmental education, home to well-marked trails and organized activities.