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Northwest Branch Anacostia River

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Title: Northwest Branch Anacostia River  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Potomac River, Adelphi, Maryland, Hillandale, Maryland, Anacostia River, List of rivers of Maryland, Sligo Creek, Maryland Route 450, Maryland Route 193, Maryland Route 195, Maryland Route 650
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Northwest Branch Anacostia River

Northwest Branch Anacostia River
Country United States
State Maryland
 - left Old Orchard, Bryants Nursery, Norwood, Rolling Stone
 - right Bachelors Forest, Longmeade, Bel Pre Creek, Wheaton Park, Lamberton Dr, Sligo Creek
Cities Wheaton, Silver Spring, Hyattsville
 - location Sandy Spring, Maryland
Mouth Anacostia River
 - location Bladensburg, MD
 - coordinates N|76.944036|W|type:river_region:US-MD name=


Length 21.5 mi (35 km)
Basin 53.5 sq mi (139 km2)
Map of the Anacostia River watershed showing the Northwest Branch

Northwest Branch Anacostia River is a 21.5-mile-long (34.6 km)[1] free-flowing stream in Montgomery County and Prince George's County, Maryland. It is a tributary of the Anacostia River, which flows to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.


The headwaters of the Northwest Branch are located near the community of Sandy Spring. The stream flows southward for 21.5 miles (34.6 km) to its confluence with the Northeast Branch near Bladensburg to form the main stem of the Anacostia.[2]


The watershed in Montgomery County includes portions of the communities of Norwood, Bel Pre Manor, Colesville, Layhill, Glenmont, Wheaton, Hillandale, White Oak, Silver Spring, Kemp Mill, Four Corners and Takoma Park. The Prince George's County portion of the watershed includes Adelphi, Langley Park, University Park, Chillum, Hyattsville, Avondale and Brentwood. The total watershed area, including a small portion of land in Washington, D.C., is 53.5 square miles (139 km2), with a resident population of about 254,000.[3][4]

The middle section of the Northwest Branch is referred to as the Rachel Carson Environmental Area. It flows through a small gorge underneath the Capital Beltway between Colesville Road and Adelphi Mill. Located at the north end of the Northwest Branch Trail, near the home of noted environmental author Rachel Carson, it is deliberately left rustic and unimproved.[5]

The majority of the Northwest Branch stream valley is a riparian buffer, protected as parkland by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).[3] The Rachel Carson Greenway planned by M-NCPPC will extend the Northwest Branch Trail into northern Montgomery County as an unimproved hiking trail, connecting to the Anacostia Tributary Trail System in Prince Georges County.


Northwest Branch crosses the geological fall line between the piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain regions, which forms a small waterfall on the stream near White Oak.


The total stream channel length of Northwest Branch and all tributaries is 75 miles (121 km).

  • Bachelors Forest Tributary
  • Bel Pre Creek
  • Bryants Nursery Tributary
  • Lamberton Drive Tributary
  • Lockridge Drive Tributary
  • Longmeade Tributary
  • Old Orchard Tributary
  • Rolling Stone Tributary
  • Sandy Spring Tributary
  • Sligo Creek
  • Wheaton Park Tributary

See also


  • Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (MCDEP)(1997). "Northwest Branch Watershed Study." Rockville, MD. March 17, 1997.
  • MCDEP. "Countywide Stream Protection Strategy: Northwest Branch Watershed." Accessed 2009-08-30.
  • Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership (2008). "Anacostia River Watershed Restoration Plan: Interim Report Framework, September 2007–November 2008." Report to Congress.

External links

  • Neighbors of the Northwest Branch
  • Anacostia Watershed Society - Detailed maps and photos of stream conditions
  • Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership
  • Northwest Branch Trail - Montgomery County Dept. of Parks
  • Wheaton Regional Park - Montgomery County Dept. of Parks
  • Anacostia Tributary Trail System - Prince George's County Dept. of Parks & Recreation
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